Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Vehicle

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There are any number of memes available if you need to feel better about how you’ve been treating yourself during the pandemic. Affirming quotes are a good way to not stress out over the dirty clothes that have piled up on your barely used new exercise bike, but we’re here to tell you that there does come a time when you’ve just got to tackle boring old routine vehicle maintenance.

April is a good time to do this, since there might be other spring cleaning you’re doing around the house and you can just add on some work in the garage or driveway. As a bonus, it is one of two National Car Care Months, according to the mysterious forces that decide these things. October is the other. And, of course, we believe in caring for your car every day, but let’s not quibble over made-up stuff here. Instead, let’s get to the tips.

Getting back on the road?

If you’ve got a warm-weather-only ride that’s been sitting in storage the last few months, then you’ll want to add new gasoline to the tank (assuming you’re driving a traditional gas-powered vehicle, of course). When the coronavirus lockdowns hit last year, Consumer Reports noted that fuel can become less useful in around three months, since some of the volatile components of gasoline evaporate during that time. While it’s too late to change what you did before the winter, keep two tips in mind for next fall. First, filling up the tank is helpful since it reduces the amount of oxygen in the tank, which reduces the amount of volatile chemicals the gas can lose. Second, think of adding a fuel stabilizer.

What about EVs?

One of the benefits of an electric vehicle is that you don’t need to worry about checking the traditional engine fluids under the hood. But that does’t mean there aren’t some spring cleaning items that are applicable to any vehicle. This means now is a good time to check your tire pressure, cabin filter and washer fluid levels. You likely won’t need washer fluid as much as the weather warms up, but as the snow and ice disappear, insects come out, and you won’t want to be low when they start splattering across your windshield.

Check Your Shoes

Some spring cleaning tasks are difficult to forget, like putting your all-season or summer tires back on your car if you had winter boots on there during the cold months. Depending on how you swapped the tires in the fall, it wouldn’t hurt to check the tread of both sets: if you find the tread is less than 2/32 of an inch, they should be replaced. If the summer tires are worn, now’s the right time to get a new set. If the winter tires took a beating, you can spend the summer looking for good deals for your next set that will go on in the fall.

Wipe Away Winter

The ice and snow of a rough winter can be rough on your wiper blades, so it’s a good idea to see if they need replacements. Since one of the tell-tale signs of worn wiper blades is the streaks they leave on your windshield when it’s wet outside, a rainy spring is a really good time to replace them if they need it. And speaking of warmer weather, it’s worth turning on the AC just to make sure that still works, so you’re not surprised the first time the temperature climbs.

Unsalted, Please

In areas where the local governments salt the road to keep them safe in the winter, getting the corrosive gunk off of the underside of your car is a smart move. The easiest is a run through the car wash, but that’s most effective if you do it regularly through the winter. For Spring Cleaning, NAPA recommends something with some acid in it, even something simple like a spray bottle full of a 50-50 mix of hot water and vinegar.

Pitch It

If you do go the automatic car wash route for the underside, that saves you the effort of hand-washing your car. While you’re there, it’s the perfect time to throw out any trash that mysteriously gathered itself into a pile in the back seat. After a run around the interior with the vacuum, it’s worth it to check that all of your lights are still in working order. A second person is helpful here, but we leave it up to you if that means asking for help from a stranger at the car wash or taking advantage of the low-cost labor pool at home. AAA offers a few more tasks before summer road trip season kicks into gear.

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