Quality car maintenance is a necessary expense that will save you big moving forward. Don’t neglect your car, call J & F Motors Ltd and tell us about that last time you checked items like your tires, brakes, and cooling systems. To schedule an appointment or if you have any questions contact us or call 703-671-7757.
Prepare your ride for warmer temps, from your undercarriage to your roof. Then roll the windows down and enjoy these longer, sunnier days.
Winter—with its blizzards, potholes, road salt and crazy temperatures—can be brutal on your vehicle. Leave it behind with this easy checklist to help make sure your vehicle works well (and looks sparkling!) inside and out.
Start with the easy stuff: Clean the interior.
It’s not as much fun to drive when you’re surrounded by a sea of trash. First, throw out all the wrappers, napkins, receipts and random junk that’s gathered on the floor and between seats. Remove any winter tools like brushes, ice scrapers and shovels. (Keep non-seasonal emergency items like a flashlight, jumper cables, blanket and a tool kit.) Check the glove compartment to make sure your insurance and registration papers are up to date.
Vacuum and scrub the upholstery.
Use a handheld vacuum for the seats, floor and trunk, and use crevice attachments to get into nooks and crannies, like underneath seats. Wipe off the dash and other hard surfaces, such as cup holders, with a wet cloth or a OEM dusting cloth, which polishes surfaces with a special wax. Use an upholstery cleaner or fabric-safe stain remover on non-leather seats—or rent a steam cleaner from your local grocery or home store. A mild detergent and scrub brush is all you need to get salt off the floor mats and carpeting. If your floor mats are worn out, replace them here.
Work on your windshield.
You may be shocked at how grimy the interior of your windshield and windows can get from fingerprints, but it’s nothing a little ammonia-free glass cleaner can’t fix. Once you’ve finished the inside, head outside to check your windshield-wiper blades for wear and tear. They tend to suffer the most damage in the winter months, when ice and snow can warp the rubber, decreasing their effectiveness. Change your own windshield wiper blades or take your vehicle to your local dealer for replacements.
Details, details, details.
Inspect the exterior for problem areas, like tree sap, bird droppings or paint chips. Before you wash the entire car, treat the trouble spots with detailing spray or OEM bug and tar remover, if necessary. Note any chips, swirls or dents, and get them treated at your dealer.
Give it a wash and wax.
Scrub your vehicle from the top down using a lambs wool mitt and a bucket of OEM detail wash. Attack stubborn dirt with a nylon or natural-bristle brush and a little elbow grease. After you’ve rinsed your vehicle and allowed it to dry, apply wax in a circular motion using a microfiber or foam applicator pad, then remove any dried wax with a microfiber or all-cotton cloth. For more car-cleaning tips, read this.
Remove salt from the undercarriage.
The beginning of spring is a great time to get a thorough car wash—just make sure it includes an under-spray. The winter’s road salt can seriously corrode your car, because it accelerates the formation of rust, which can damage exposed parts. It’s also bad for your vehicle’s finish. As a preventive measure, consider having the car professionally waxed and sealed.
Focus on fluids.
Now that your car is squeaky clean, it’s time to move on to the exciting topic of fluids. Don’t skip this part, because coolant, in a 50/50 mix with water, is vital to your engine. Too little fluid or the wrong ratio can seriously damage your engine, so it’s important to keep your levels up. Consider using OEM coolant for the best results. Next, you’ll want to fill up your windshield washer fluid. You may need to adjust the dilution from season to season—more alcohol helps keep the washer fluid from freezing. Read the product instructions to find out the proper amount to use.
Check your tires.
After a bumpy winter barreling over snowy potholes and lumpy roads, head to your Ford Dealer Service Center, where trained technicians can check your alignment with state-of-the-art equipment. If you’re using winter tires, swap them out for summer ones. At the very least, check the tire pressure to help with efficiency. Use a digital gauge for a more accurate reading, and fill the tires to the proper level as listed on the vehicle certification label found on the driver’s doorjamb.
Change your oil.
Don’t forget to have your oil changed. For optimum efficiency, most vehicles need an oil change every 7,500 miles or six months.
Hit the road and enjoy a beautiful spring drive. Enough said.
The coolant in your radiator doesn’t last forever. Over time it can break down and start to corrode the inside of your radiator. This can lead to cooling problems and radiator repair. A radiator flush once a year is cheap insurance against radiator repairs.
Replace Your Air Filter
You should replace your air filter twice a year, so now’s a good time to get that 5-minute job out of the way.
Summer traveling could mean driving in the rain. The tread on your tires must be adequate for rainy weather or you could end up in a ditch, or worse. Checking the tread depth on your tires take one minute. While you’re at it, you should check your tire pressure, too.
Replace Your Windshield Wipers
Winter weather can be brutal to your windshield wipers, making them almost useless if you get caught in a summer rain shower. Replace them at the beginning of the summer and you won’t have to worry.
Inspect Your Brakes
It’s a good idea to inspect your brakes twice a year just to be sure everything is up t snuff. Car safety should always be a top priority. Go ahead and check your brake fluid while you’re at it.
Check Your Battery
Corrosion is very likely to build up during winter weather driving. Check your battery posts and cables to ensure you’ll have no starting problems.
Check Your Headlights
Sometimes you don’t notice that you have a bulb out. Now’s a good time to take a look to see if you need to replace a headlight bulb. Not only is it unsafe to drive with one headlight, you can get a ticket!
Remember that car safety begins with you. It also ends with you, since you’re the one driving the car. That means not doing anything stupid like speeding or driving drunk. Do all of us a favor and skip those dangerous activities.
Winter Specific Maintenance
In addition to the added perils of winter driving, the change in weather can bring peril to your car’s systems.
Freezing temps, salted roads and wintery precipitation can gang up on your car if you don’t give it a baseball-bat sized maintenance session. These winter maintenance jobs will keep you out of trouble:
Check your antifreeze
Your antifreeze (the juice that goes in your radiator) is an essential part of your car’s winter protection. Your car contains a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze. Make sure the level is full and the mixture is close to 50/50. Many auto service stations and repair centers will check this mixture free, or you can buy a tester for around $5. You did remember to perform a radiator flush last spring, didn’t you?
Inspect your tires
The last line of defense between you and an oak tree are your tires. Winter is not the time to get cheap about your tires, so take the time to check the tread depth. The National Highway Transportation Safety Board says you need at least 2/32″ of depth to be safe. It’s been my experience, especially in winter weather, that anything less than 4/32″ (1/8″) be replaced soon. The old penny test is as reliable as anything to find out whether your treads are ready for winter action. Also, be sure to check your tire pressure. Believe it or not, they lose a little pressure when it gets cold, so pump ’em up. Do you need snow tires?
Replace your wipers
Wipers? What do your windshield wipers have to do with winter weather? Two things. First, anything falling from the sky is going to end up on your windshield, and unless you have a team of beavers riding on the hood of your car the task of clearing it falls on your wipers. Second, in areas that see snowfall in the winter, you’re also driving through that soupy muck that’s left on the road once the highway department does their thing. This muck includes a lot of sand and salt, both of which end up on your windshield. It takes wipers that are in top shape to keep your windshield clean and safe.
Check your windshield washer fluid
You’ll be using lots of washer fluid as you try to keep your windshield sparkly. A mile stuck behind an 18-wheeler will have your windshield looking like a Desert Humvee if you’re low on washer fluid. *Tip: Don’t fill your washer fluid reservoir with anything except washer fluid, it won’t freeze!
Annual Maintenance Procedures
On top of the checks you need to perform to ensure safe winter driving, now’s a good time to do some annual maintenance. These aren’t necessarily specific to winter driving, but it’s a good point on the calendar to get around to doing this stuff.
Clean your battery posts
Starting problems are a bummer any time of year. Regularly treating your battery to a cleaning can keep electrical gremlins at bay.
Inspect your spark plug wires
Cracked up plug wires affect performance, gas mileage and general reliability. Be sure yours are in top shape.
Inspect your brakes
Brakes are not a good area to cut corners. Be sure your brakes have enough meat left to get you through the season.
Check Your Engine Oil
This should go without saying and should be done at least monthly. But in case you’re an amnesiac … you should also do an oil change!
Cold weather safety should be a concern for anybody living in a cold climate. These tips will give you the upper hand when Old Man Winter tries to put a chill on your winter travels. If you’re extra curious about staying generally safe in winter weather, the National Weather Service has an excellent Winter Safety & Awareness guide that covers everything from how storms brew to a list of history’s billion dollar winter wonders.