Jim Rink (313) 336-1513
A long Michigan winter can take its toll on all kinds of vehicles. Cold weather, snow and ice, potholes and road salt place a heavy strain on many critical components, including batteries, belts and hoses, shock absorbers, tires, and brakes. AAA recommends the following auto maintenance tips to help motorists prepare for the spring and summer driving seasons ahead:
- Preventative car care can help protect both your safety and the investment made in your vehicle. To locate a quality service facility in your area, visit AAA.com to find a nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair facility.
- Locate the recommended tire pressures either in your owner’s manual or on the placard on the doorjamb. Use a tire pressure gauge at least once a month to check pressure when your tires are cool.
- Make sure your tires have adequate tread depth; it’s critical for optimal traction and maneuverability.
- If your battery is more than a couple of years old, check its load strength.
- Monitor and change your engine’s oil and oil filter at the manufacturer''s specified intervals, and be sure to follow the more frequent "severe service" recommendations if your driving habits meet any of the conditions described in the owner’s manual.
- Regularly wash and wax your vehicle so bugs and grime don’t have a chance to prematurely age the paint. Be sure to wash underneath your vehicle to get rid of winter’s salt and debris.
- Inspect belts and hoses and replace if they are brittle, cracked or too soft. Belts and hoses that are five years old or older may need to be replaced, even if they pass visual inspection.
- Perform a walk-around inspection of your vehicle’s lighting systems. In addition to the basic running lights and side markers, make sure the headlights work on both low- and high-beam and check for proper operation of the brake lights and turn signals.
- Check your car’s wiper blades and clean them every few weeks with a soft cloth or paper towel dampened with windshield washer fluid. If they’re worn, cracked or rigid, the wipers will not adequately remove the rain, grime, and other debris that can easily compromise your vision.
- Keep the washer fluid reservoir full. Check the washer fluid monthly and top it off with a washer solution formulated to aid in the removal of insects and other debris.
- Check the coolant level. With a cold engine, the radiator should be completely full and the coolant level in the remote reservoir should be at or above the "cold" level marking. Have the system flushed and refilled with fresh coolant at the interval specified in the vehicle owner’s manual. Always top off the system with a 50/50 mixture of coolant and water to avoid altering the antifreeze level.
- Inspect the brake fluid level. If the level has fallen below the "low" mark on the fluid reservoir, it usually indicates major brake wear or a leak somewhere in the system; have the brakes inspected as soon as possible.
- If your vehicle continues to bounce up and down more than a couple of times after hitting a bump, have the shock absorbers and struts inspected for wear and leakage.