April is National Car Care Month

Cold temperatures and winter driving conditions put our vehicles to the test — so spring is a great time to give your car some TLC in conjunction with the National Car Care Month! According to the Car Care Council, community inspection events last year revealed that 84% of vehicles inspected failed at least 1 inspection component. Considering that 2,600 deaths a year occur from neglected vehicle maintenance according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, that figure is not only alarming but also emphasizes the importance of being proactive.

Some parts are more vital than others, and it can be overwhelming if you’re not familiar with vehicle maintenance. As a starting point, the National Institute for Automotive Excellence (ASE) suggests you read the owner’s manual and follow the recommended service schedules. They also point out some of these important tips to follow for a springtime checkup:

• Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs.
• Check and replace worn wiper blades and keep plenty of washer solvent on hand to combat summer’s dust and insects.
• Check the condition of tires, including the spare. Always check tire pressure when the tires are cold.

CarCare.org also advises drivers of these maintenance procedures to make sure their vehicles are running at peak performance for the summer driving season:

• Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
• Check the hoses and belts to make sure they are not cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or showing signs of excessive wear.
• Check the battery and replace if necessary. Make sure the connection is clean, tight and corrosion-free.
• Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.

And it’s not just the mechanical parts that need attention after winter! Yankee Ford explained ways to address the interior and exterior during a spring cleaning:

• Clean the interior: It’s easy to use your car or truck as a storage area for all kinds of things (including useless junk and garbage), especially in the cold months when you don’t feel like cleaning your car in the freezing cold. Take the time to declutter your car, losing the extra weight can significantly increase your gas mileage too. It’s worth it.
• Clean the exterior: Take special care to address the undercarriage where road salt can eat away or corrode the metal. A thorough cleaning at a car wash should do the trick; then be sure to follow with a protective coating of wax to your vehicle’s exterior.

Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council, said, “Since most Americans rely on their vehicles nearly every day to get to work, school and everywhere in between, taking a little time for car care now can save headaches and money in the long run.” In other words, preventative maintenance costs less than repairs! ♦

By Amber Foley, March 22, 2016

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