The winter months can be pretty hard on our cars. All the ice, water, cold temperatures and bumpy roads can be bad for engines, suspensions, tires and more. After a long winter comes to an end, it's a good idea to inspect and replace a few things on your vehicle. With any luck, other motorists will do the same, because a vehicle that isn't properly maintained is just as dangerous as inclement weather.
First and foremost, replace your windshield wipers. Those should be replaced every six months or so anyway, so now is a great time to do it after they've seen a lot of use during the winter. Worn out wiper blades aren't able to clear water and dirt off your windshield, blocking your vision and making driving unsafe.
Next, wash your car carefully. This may seem like a purely cosmetic move, but it's important to remove all the built up snow, salt and chemicals from the roadway that might have accumulated on and underneath your vehicle. These things can cause corrosion and lead you to a premature trip to the body shop.
Check your brakes and tires for excessive wear. Those also tend to take a lot of abuse when the weather is bad, so make sure your tread isn't too worn and replace your brake pads and rotors if necessary.
Finally, check all your fluid levels and make sure everything under the hood is in proper working order. You don't know what might have happened to your engine during the cold months, so now is a good time to find out before you get left on the side of the road.
Author's Note: 5 Hazards to Watch for When the Roads Start to Thaw
I live in a part of the country that rarely sees winter freezes, let alone thaws. As such, I didn't have much personal experience in how to drive in such conditions, so I actually learned a lot from writing this article. If you live in an area affected by harsh winters, just remember to drive safely and keep your vehicle in proper working order. Or you could move to Texas where you'll never have to deal with any of that, because we consider "cold" to be anything below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) -- and it generally never rains.
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- MotorTrendCertified.com. "Common spring road hazards." (March 13, 2012) http://www.motortrendcertified.com/article.php?id=800724056
- StreetDirectory.com. "Time for Spring Vehicle Maintenance!" (March 15, 2012) http://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/58423/car_repairs/time_for_spring_vehicle_maintenance.html
- Towne, Leigh Anne. "Potholes Already Causing Problems." Fox17Online.com. Jan. 27, 2012. (March 12, 2012) http://www.fox17online.com/news/fox17-freeze-and-thaw-cycle-affecting-roads-potholes-posing-problems-20120127,0,5360692.story
- Washington State Department of Transportation. "Tips for slush driving." Dec. 24, 2008. (March 15, 2012) http://wsdotblog.blogspot.com/2008/12/tips-for-slush-drivinggood-stuff.html
- Virginia Department of Transportation. "Thaw-freeze cycle begins." Jan. 31, 2010. (March 15, 2012) http://www.virginiadot.org/newsroom/lynchburg/2010/thaw-freeze_cycle_begins44850.asp
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