Spring Into Vehicle Maintenance With This Checklist

Spring Into Vehicle Maintenance With This Checklist

Now that winter is just a memory, millions of Americans will take to the roads to enjoy the warmer weather. It’s time to perform some Car care spring is the perfect time of year to make sure your vehicle is ready for the upcoming travel season.

Whether you’re driving across the country or driving across town,

Exterior:

  • Wiper blades play an extremely important role in increasing visibility. Replace every six months or when cracked, cut, torn, streaking or chattering.
  • Check the tires. A simple test to check tire tread depth is to insert a penny into the tread of the tire. If the top of Lincoln’s head sticks out, your tires are starting to show signs of wear and should be replaced. Also, check the tire inflation and inspect the tread for uneven wear, which could indicate the need for a wheel alignment. Also look for bulges and bald spots.
  • Give your car a good washing from top to bottom. Use a product specifically made for automobiles. Always clean the tires and wheels before washing the body, and don’t use the same mitt for both.
  • If you find minor paint damage, cover the paint chips as quickly as possible. For a quick fix until you can get some touchup supplies, dab a little clear nail polish on the scratch.
  • Spring is an excellent time for waxing, which not only protects the finish but also makes subsequent washing easier. Before proceeding, make sure there are no foreign particles on the paint.

Under the Hood:

  • A good rule of thumb is that a change of season equals a change of oil. Changing your car’s oil and filter every three months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first, will ensure that your car operates at peak efficiency.
  • Get a tune-up if necessary. As part of the 21st Century Tune-Up on today’s modern vehicles, the following systems should be inspected: battery, charging and starting, engine mechanical, powertrain control (including onboard diagnostic checks), fuel, ignition, and emissions.
  • Check all fluids. There are several fluids that require attention, including engine oil, power steering fluid, brake and transmission fluids, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant. The antifreeze/coolant should be refreshed every two years.
  • Check hoses and belts. A belt that fails can affect the electrical system, air conditioning, and power steering, as well as the cooling system. Cooling system hoses may be deteriorating from within, so old hoses and clamps that appear to be in marginal condition may need to be replaced.

Under the Vehicle:

  • Spring is a good time to check the entire brake system, including brake linings, rotors, and drums.
  • Check the shocks or struts for signs of physical damage, such as leaking, rusting, or dents. Also be aware of the warning signs that you may need them replaced: vehicle rolls or sways on turns, front end dives when braking, rear end squats when accelerating, vehicle sits lower in the front or rear, a loss of directional control during sudden stops, and the vehicle bounces or slides sideways on a winding and rough road.
  • If you notice any fluid puddles or stains under your vehicle, it is a good idea to have it inspected. There are several fluids that can leak from the vehicle including antifreeze/coolant, battery acid, brake fluid, clear water, diesel fuel, engine oil, gasoline, gear oil, power steering fluid, shock and strut fluid, transmission fluid and windshield washer fluid.

Lofton Motorsports offers inspections and all vehicle maintenance for your needs! Come visit us and we’ll make sure you’re safe on the road.

How To Add Liquid To Coolant Recovery System

If your car has a coolant recovery system, you can check the level of liquid on the side of the plastic reservoir. You just open the cap on the reservoir to check whether the coolant looks as though it needs changing or to add water and coolant. Many vehicles have a pressurized coolant recovery system called an expansion tank that makes opening the radiator unnecessary. These systems are considered “sealed” because the safety pressure cap is on the recovery reservoir rather than on the radiator.

  • If you overfill the system, the extra liquid gets hot, expands, and flows out of the overflow pipe. That may not seem too terrible, but because coolant is toxic, it can harm animals or children, who love its sweet taste.
  • If you don’t have coolant on hand and you just need to add a little liquid to the cooling system, plain old tap water will do. But try to maintain a good coolant level by adding a similar amount of straight coolant the next time you add liquid to the system.

You will probably never need to open the cap on the radiator, but if you have to open the cap for any reason, make sure to fill the radiator to the top with a 50/50 mixture of coolant and water before replacing the cap. This addition bleeds the system by forcing any air that may have gotten into the system into the reservoir and out through its overflow pipe when the engine heats up. Follow these steps when adding liquid to the coolant recovery system:

Adding cold liquid to an engine that’s hot can crack the engine block because the hot metal contracts sharply when the cold liquid hits it.

  1. Check the liquid level.

    Look at the outside of the reservoir to see where the level of the liquid in it lies relative to the “MAX” and “MIN” lines embossed on the side, as shown here.

    A coolant recovery reservoir (a) and a cap being removed safely from a radiator (b).

    A coolant recovery reservoir (a) and a cap being removed safely from a radiator (b).
  2. Lift the lever on the safety cap to allow the pressure to escape.

    To keep from burning your hand, place a cloth over the cap after you raise the lever. Then turn the cap counterclockwise to remove it.

  3. If the liquid level is low, add equal parts coolant and water to the reservoir.

    Add equal parts coolant and water until the level reaches the “MAX” line on the side of the container.

How to Get Your Car Ready for Summer

There’s no time of the year like summer. And there’s no time better to own a car than when the sun comes out and the summer months roll around.

For some people, summer is the time for road trips, beach getaways, and driving backroads just for the heck of it. For others, it’s the time to let the top down and turn the tunes up. And for still others, it’s the busy time of the year, when kids and their friends need chauffeuring to sports games, movies, and day trips. Whatever you use your car for, it’s important to make sure that it’s completely ready for the summer.

Part 1 of 3: Get the car ready for the sunny days

Step 1: Purchase a sun shade. Buy a sunshade for your vehicle.

Bright sun can easily damage the interior of your car. The strength of the summer sun can fade the color of your dashboard and your front seats. This not only hurts the aesthetic of your interior but can also greatly diminish the resale value of your car.

To protect against this sun damage, purchase a sunshade, and keep it in your car at all times. Unfold the sunshade anytime you’re parked in direct sunlight.

  • Tip: When driving in the summer, try to park your car in the shade as much as is possible. Also crack your windows slightly when you leave your car in a hot environment.

close up of person turning on their air conditioning

Step 2: Check your air conditioning. Make sure your air conditioning is running well.

Chances are, you’ll need to be using your air conditioner a fair amount during the summer, which means you should make sure it’s working well. Even if your air conditioner appears to be working, it may not be working at full speed, which could be a problem during the hottest days of the summer.

Before the heat comes, have your air conditioner inspected by a reputable mechanic, such as one from Lofton Motorsports.

Part 2 of 3: Get the car safe before the summer driving

person hand checking their tires

Step 1: Check your tires Check to make sure your tires are in good shape.

By the time summer rolls around, your tires may be in poor shape. Driving in adverse road conditions during the winter, or driving with chains on, can sometimes cause unnatural wear and tear on your tires. You also may have winter tires and may be switching back to your summer tires.

Be sure to give your tires a visual inspection, to make sure they’re in good shape. If they’re not, purchase some quality tires before hitting the road this summer.

  • Tip: While checking your tires for wear and tear, make sure that they are properly inflated as well.

Step 2: Check your brakes. Make sure your brakes are in good pads.

It’s common for your brake pads to get worn out during the winter. This occurs for a number of reasons, mainly that there’s more traffic, a greater disparity between the resting temperature of the brakes and the operating temperature, and because you’re more likely to ride your brakes in adverse weather conditions.

When the summer comes, it’s a good idea to inspect your brake pads to make sure they’re in working condition. If you feel comfortable, you can check the pads yourself, or you can hire a trustworthy mechanic to perform a brake inspection.

Step 3: Get a comprehensive inspection. Get a comprehensive inspection for your vehicle.

While brakes and tires are the most important elements of your car to have inspected summer, a comprehensive safety inspection is also a good idea.

As you’re likely to drive your car more in the summer, you want to make sure that your oil is clean, your fluid levels are all sufficient, and all the electrical components of your car are operating properly.

Part 3 of 3: Get your car fun for the summer

person washing car

Step 1: Wash and detail your car. Get your car washed and thoroughly detailed.

Whether you have a second-hand sedan with a bunch of miles or a hot new convertible, you should get your car looking good for the summer.

Take your vehicle to a trusted auto detailer, and have it washed, waxed, and detailed, so it looks, feels, and smells like new.

  • Tip: The start of summer is also the best time to go through your car and clean it out.

Step 2: Add some fun to the interior. Add a little fun personality to the cabin of your car.

Since it’s summer, you’ll likely have a lot of people in your car, so it’s a good time to put a touch of your personality inside it.

Add a fun air freshener to your car, and maybe even some new seat covers. Stock your glove compartment with good CDs and you’ll be ready for the summer.

trunk with items in it

Step 3: Keep some summer essentials. Stock your trunk with summer essentials.

When the summer comes, it’s a good time to keep some essentials in your trunk; you never know when you might need them.

Put some water bottles or sports drinks in the trunk, along with some sunblock. If you’re going to spend the summer driving around your kids, fill the trunk with spare clothes, snacks, and maybe some emergency toys.

  • Tip: It’s a good idea to always keep a spare pair of sunglasses in your car during the summer. Sunglasses not only protect your eyes but can be an important safety measure when you are driving in bright conditions.

With just a few preparations, you can have your vehicle ready for whatever the summer throws at you. Summer is the best time of the year, so you want to make sure that your car is never holding you back from enjoying it to the fullest. Have one of Lofton Motorsport’s certified technicians inspect your battery and get it replaced if it is not holding a charge or giving you problems on a regular basis and be sure to have routine maintenance performed to keep your car in top shape.