April is National Car Care Month, and it’s the perfect time to get some basic maintenance out of the way. This last winter was brutal for most of the country, and that means many vehicles were neglected during the coldest months. It’s about to get very rainy, so don’t let that little issue turn into a big problem at an inopportune time. Here’s five easy things you can do during National Car Care Month to save you some cash and give you piece of mind.
Check Your Fluids
An engine is only as good as its fluids. The best built, high-end exotic engine will quickly wear out if you run it out of fluids. Take the time to make sure your engine oil and antifreeze/coolant are at proper levels. If your transmission has a dipstick, check that too. Take a look at longer-lasting synthetics. The higher initial costs will be paid back by longer intervals between changes, and possibly even some gains in miles per gallon.
Check Your Tires
Tires are the only thing keeping your vehicle on the road, and now is a good time to look at them. Check for any cracks or dry-rot. Look at the tread for anything stuck in the grooves, or to make sure there are no nail/screw punctures just waiting to cause a leak. Use a $2 tire gauge to check the air pressure, and make sure it is within manufacturer’s specifications. Also consider rotating the tires, as that can help prevent early wear.
Check Your Filters
A dirty air filter will make your engine work harder, reducing MPG and increasing wear. Fortunately, air filters are cheap (around $15), and super easy to replace. Engine air filters are about the easiest maintenance item on modern vehicles, usually requiring zero tools and about a minute of work. This is also a good time to check the cabin air filter. This is also usually very affordable, and when changed on time, keeps the outside grit and funk from entering your vehicle.
Check Your Electrics
The frustrating experience of trying to start a car with a dead battery is usually the only time many owners think about their vehicle’s battery. Avoid this issue entirely by testing your battery. Auto parts stores sell volt meters for as little as $10. If your battery tests less than 12.5 volts, it is probably time to start looking at replacements. Also, most auto parts stores and service centers will test your battery for free.
Check the Outside
All that nasty ice probably chewed up the wiper blades, so replace those before monsoon season hits. Make sure your headlights, tail lights and turn signals are all working properly. You don’t want to get a fix-it ticket, or worse, cause an accident. Consider a wash and wax. The winter takes a beating on the vehicle’s finish, and a wash and coat of wax will make it look new again. Remember that a little elbow grease and investment now will go a long way towards a more reliable ride with a higher resale value.