April marks National Car Care Month, and it’s a good time of year to make sure you’ve taken care of any winter-related damage and gotten your car ready for spring and summer driving. Auto maintenance costs may seem unwelcome, but given that accidents caused by unperformed maintenance top $2 billion in costs each year, heading down to your local auto repair shop now is probably actually a bargain in the long run.
Some springtime maintenance you can take care of yourself, such as getting all the salt off your undercarriage before it causes corrosion. But there are a few things you’ll want professionals to take care of, as well. Here are five of the most important:
- Get the Oil Checked and/or Changed
This is a good time of year to check your oil (and other fluid) levels and get it changed if necessary. If you had winter-formula oil put in for the cold months, then you’ll obviously want to switch back to a warm-weather formula at this time.
- Take Off Winter Tires or Rotate Tires
Leaving winter tires on your car will lead to unnecessary wear and cut into your fuel efficiency, so you should take them off promptly now that the snow and ice have most likely melted. If you left your all-season tires on during the winter, then you’re probably due for a tire rotation; tire rotations should be done every 7,500 miles or so, or as often as the auto manufacturer recommends.
- Test the Alignment and Suspension
Winter potholes can do a number on your alignment and suspension. Especially if you feel your vehicle pulling to one side or the other, that’s a sign you should get it checked out by a professional.
- Have Your Tire Pressure Checked
Tire pressure tends to change drastically twice a year with temperature changes: once in the fall and once in the spring. One study conducted by Indiana University found that 1.4% of auto accidents are caused by under-inflated tires; that may not sound like a lot, but it’s silly not to check since it’s such an inexpensive problem to fix. You’ll get better handling and fuel efficiency driving on properly inflated tires, anyway.
- Ask Any Auto Repair Questions You Have
While you’re taking your car into the shop this spring, take the opportunity to educate yourself a little, as well. Ask any auto repair questions that you’ve been wondering about, and ask the technicians for a list of maintenance tasks you can learn to do yourself on a more regular basis.
What sort of auto repair questions do you have? Join the discussion in the comments.