7 Tips to Prepare your Car for Spring

March 6th, 2024 by

Now that the Winter months are coming to a close, warmer and rainier weather is coming, and so is the need for proper Spring vehicle care. Spring is a perfect time to put in the work to keep your vehicle running as good as new. Think of it as Spring cleaning for your yearly maintenance checklist.

1. Check your vehicle’s cooling system

This is a great thing to take care of ahead of the rising temperature, especially in a place like Charleston where we’ll be expecting 80-90 degree temps before the summer even begins. To check your coolant level, first, make sure that your engine is cool and not recently used. Remove the radiator cap and check that the coolant level is just below the filler neck on the radiator or at a designated level on a remote coolant reservoir. If the level is low, you can manually add liquid coolant to the reservoir. Additionally, you should check to make sure the system is intact. This includes checking that connections are tight and checking for cracks or breaks.

2. Inspect your tires

Ensuring that your tires are equipped to handle slick roads during Spring and Summer rain is very important. Additionally, winter potholes can get your car out of alignment faster than normal. This means two important maintenance tasks after Winter include checking tire tread and getting a tire rotation. There is a handy penny test you can use to ensure that your tire tread is sufficient. This is done by placing a penny head-first into multiple grooves on your tire to see how far it goes. If the penny goes in far enough that Lincoln’s head is covered, your tread is still good!

Tire rotations are typically timed to be done with oil changes, so this is also a great time to check that off the list as well. Tire pressure is also affected by changing temperatures. Cold overnight temperatures often leave tires with less pressure than is recommended. If you haven’t kept up with this during the winter months, you will want to check and adjust your tire pressure going into warmer months.

3. Replace your windshield wipers

On a similar note, having fresh windshield wipers is a good idea going into Spring. Between the rainfall and pollen that will collect on your windshield, you don’t want to be left with a smeared and yellowed windshield while driving around. Between ice, snow and salt, your wiper blades likely end up worn down after the coldest months of the year. Well-functioning windshield wipers will heavily reduce your risk of accidents on rainy days, which will be more common in the coming months.

4. Check and test your battery

Hotter weather is harder on batteries, so taking care of your car’s battery before the hot weather hits will help prevent any unexpected failures. In warmer climates like here in Charleston, batteries are expected to last between 2 and 4 years. So going into spring months, it’s worth taking your battery to get checked. At home, you can manually clean your battery terminals and ensure that the connections are secure. If your battery is rattling around, components can come loose and damage each other, reducing the battery’s life.  Finally, take your car to your local service center to have your battery load tested. It’s always best to replace a close-to-dying battery at a shop before it stalls you out on the road.

5. Top off your fluids

While you’re busy spring cleaning the parts of your car that need tending after winter, you should also take this chance to top off all other fluids. Many of these can be checked while getting your car serviced, so it can time well with getting your tires inspected and your cooling system checked. Have the technician check your fluid levels for your power steering, brake, transmission and windshield washer.

6. Change your cabin air filter

Most drivers will likely be doing more travel during the Spring and coming warmer months, so air filters will be putting in more work. Also, with the annual flood of pollen, our cabin air filters are getting quite worn down this time of year. If your air filter isn’t prepared to filter out the pollen of the season, it can get into your engine and other crucial components. On top of decreasing your car’s performance, this pollen can reduce the air quality inside your vehicle.

When you change the air filter, toxic impurities, including dust, dirt, and pollen, are efficiently trapped within the filter. After a replacement, the air that circulates in the cabin is fresh, clean, and healthier.

7. Clean your vehicle underbody

In colder cities that experience more snowfall in the Winter than Charleston tends to, cleaning your vehicle underbody is a must coming out of Winter. This is primarily because of the salt that can collect on the underbody from roads that have been salted to melt down ice. However, this maintenance task is also recommended for residents of the Lowcountry for a very different reason, and Spring remains a good time to do it.

Here in Charleston and other nearby low-lying cities, we have to worry about flooded streets in just about any season throughout the year. Particularly when driving downtown, this means our cars often end up driving through deep puddles of water overflow. The problem with this is that this water is often part salt-water and can corrode undercarriages over time. So before Spring rainfall leads to even more flooding, be sure to get your underbody washed and cleaned while you’re taking care of your spring car maintenance checklist.