Spring is officially here, which means at long last, another winter is history. Summer, complete with pool parties, abundant sunshine and road trips is fast approaching. Is your car ready for the warmer months ahead?
Preparation is critical for getting your car or truck through the frigid months of the year; Old Man Winter is all too willing to strangle the life out of your vehicle with his icy death grip. And he doesn’t just do this because it’s his job, he manically laughs all the while because there’s nothing he loves more than bursting radiator hoses, draining batteries or causing unprotected steel to rust before your very eyes.
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But just because summer is more agreeable, it doesn’t mean your vehicle doesn’t need a little TLC to help it cope with the season’s heat. Now that things are thawing out, here are eight valuable tips on how to revive your car after a long winter.
8. Check the Fluids
Go ahead, pull that little lever in the driver’s side footwell and open the hood. Maybe you haven’t looked under there since the last presidential election, but that’s OK. Everything is probably fine, though it’s smart to inspect all of your vehicle’s vital fluids as the seasons change.
This means checking the oil; is it a dark tar-like consistency or gritty feeling? If so, you’re well past a change. Also, give the coolant level a look-see. Is it a bright, clear color or rusty brown? If it’s the latter, get it serviced. Also check the brake fluid, as well as the power steering and automatic transmission fluid, if equipped. Should anything seem suspicious or look out of place, take your vehicle in for service.
Reiterating these points, Cathy Markovitz, marketing manager for 3M auto care said, “The idea of just changing your oil … You can’t go wrong.” Remember, a little maintenance now can save untold headaches (and dollars) down the road.
7. Don’t Forget the Tires!
Properly inflated tires ensure your car or truck handles, brakes and rides as intended, improving overall safety. Beyond this, they can even reduce fuel consumption, saving you money at the pump. Keeping your vehicle’s tires topped-up to manufacturer-recommended specs is smart in more ways than one. Remember, they gradually lose air over time, so periodic checks are important. Especially if your summer tires have been in storage for a few months, they may not be in the same condition as when you left them.
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6. Low-Sodium Diet
Vast swaths of North America get pummeled by the full brunt of winter every year. Many municipalities salt the roads to minimize ice and improve traction. This leads to scaly coatings on your vehicle’s paint, underbody rust and even interior stains. But there’s a way to get the sodium out.
“We just launched a 3M foaming salt remover,” said Darcy Backman, global product marketing manager for 3M auto care. This product is specially designed to help remove stubborn salt stains from floor mats and carpeting. It comes in an easy-to-use aerosol can and “works in minutes.”
“It’s a simple spray on,” explained Backman. You just let it sit and then wipe it off. He said there are plenty of carpet cleaners on the market but not many are specifically designed to remove salt stains.
5. Control the Climate
With scorching summer heat just a turn or two of the calendar away, you’ll probably want to make sure your vehicle’s air conditioning system is up to the task of keeping you cool. Accordingly, it’s advisable to visit a service center to have everything checked out. They can recharge the system if necessary or repair other faulty components so you can drive in comfort all year long.
4. Maximize Visibility
Visibility is important while driving, that’s a given. If you can’t see where you’re going, you’ll soon end up somewhere you don’t want to be — the opposing lane, a ditch or even wrapped around a tree, all of which are unfortunate options.
Accordingly, Markovitz said, “[Make] sure you’re cleaning your windows inside and out.” Over time, a chemical scum can form on the interior side of your vehicle’s glass, blocking visibility. Take a few minutes to wipe this nastiness away for enhanced outward vision.
“Another thing is check your wiper blades,” said Markovitz. Winter’s chill along with UV rays can destroy soft rubber components. Spend a few bucks and throw some fresh blades on to ensure you can see during inclement weather.
3. Lighting the Way
Another mission critical component is your car’s lighting system. Obviously, headlamps allow you to see at night, which means they’re kind of important.
Unfortunately, like most other things, they can require maintenance from time to time. Older vehicles often suffer from “automotive cataracts,” a condition that causes the headlights to become rough and chalky feeling, something that dramatically impacts their efficacy.
If your vehicle has lighting assemblies that suffer from this condition, it’s wise to correct it. Numerous companies sell kits that allow you to polish the lamp assemblies back to their factory shine. They’re affordable and the process is quite simple, so there’s no reason to put it off any longer.
2. Splish-Splash, Give it a Bath
To remove accumulated salt, dirt and road grime, give your car or truck a much-deserved bath. Take it through a carwash to remove these contaminates and make it shine once more. Paying a little extra for an undercarriage cleaning isn’t a bad idea, either. Unfortunately, the first wash of the season can be an eye-opening experience.
Markovitz said that in winter “your car gets dinged up and when your car is dirty … you don’t necessarily [see it].” Winter filth can disguise myriad paint finish and body issues.
For drivers who live in areas like California where water conservation is top of mind, 3M offers a waterless wash and wax. Backman said, “This product can be used on all surfaces, clear-coat paint, windows, metal tires, rubber, wheels, chrome.” Just liberally spray this foaming product on your vehicle and then wipe it off for a water-free clean. Like detailing your ride, it’s best to do one body panel at a time.
It also has a silicone wax Backman said, which should provide a deep shine and protect your vehicle’s paint.
1. Make it Shine
“You can easily develop scratches on one’s paint,” said Backman, the depressing result of snowfall, ice and winter debris. Fortunately, the average driver can remove these surface imperfections from their vehicle with the 3M Trizact scratch remover, a professional-grade tool that’s finally been made available to consumers.
According to Backman, it features “micro-replicated structures,” specifically, a pattern of tiny pyramids. “That’s different than other abrasives,” he said.
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“Because it’s engineered precisely, it provides consistent results,” said Backman. Accordingly, it’s been used in the aerospace, auto body and even dental industries for many years.
“Think of it as a very user friendly and safe-to-use abrasive that you use to refine out scratches and scuffs,” said Backman. Just wet the vehicle’s surface and rub any imperfections out. “It’s almost like a magic pad that can remove scratches before your eyes.”