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Spring car care checklist

Eventually, the cold weather will break and the snow and ice will melt. Spring weather is easier on your vehicle than the harsh winter, but it’s a short reprieve before the arduous summer arrives. It’s the perfect time to assess how your car fared over the dreary winter and get it prepped for the heat.

With attention to your vehicle during spring car care, you can put off costly repairs from unexpected problems. The costs are relatively modest, and a well-kept car often needs under $150 in maintenance to keep it going for another couple of seasons. Here are ten things you should do to keep your vehicle in good shape this spring.

Check your windshield wiper blades 

Check your windsheild wipers

Wiper blades can freeze to the windshield in a snowstorm, and ice and snow on the glass can act as an abrasive on the rubber edge. Check along the flexible rubber edge of each wiper blade for nicks and cuts. If you see damage, or if your wipers leave streaks behind after a pass, replace them both.

Inspect and top up the fluids 

hand adding transmission fluid to their car
Inspect and top fluids

Fluids can have moisture intrude or form from cycles between hot and cold temperatures. Contamination can occur, and oils can break down and lose viscosity. Check the color and level of each fluid including:

  • Engine oil
  • Transmission fluid
  • Engine coolant
  • Brake fluid
  • Power steering fluid
  • On 4WD and AWD vehicles, differential and transfer case fluids

If they’re in poor condition, flush and fill them with the appropriate fluids. Also, top up the windshield washer fluid.

Check the air filters

engine air filter being removed from the housing
Check the air filters

Although dust storms and bugs aren’t the norm in the winter, the air still carries particles that will get caught in the air filters. Inspect the engine air filter as well as the cabin air filter to ensure they aren’t coated in debris. Check that light passes through the pleats, indicating that air can still make its way through efficiently too. If the filters are dirty, smelly, or you can’t see light through them, replace them. It’s usually necessary every year as part of your vehicle maintenance schedule.

Test the battery

multimeter being used to test battery 1
Test the Battery

Harsh, cold weather strains a car battery, especially during start cycles, and if the battery has died in the winter and required a boost, there’s a good chance its capacity has diminished at least a little. Test the battery before the summer heat and strain from high energy consumption takes its toll too. AutoZone offers free battery tests in-store and, if it fails, you’ll find your new battery from America’s #1 battery destination.

Check the brakes

Duralast rotor box duralast brake pads brake job being performed in background
Check the brakes

As summer approaches, your brakes will need to be in good condition to bring your vehicle to a halt, and higher temperatures can cause brake pads and rotors to wear a little faster too. Make sure you’re starting the season out right and that your brake pads have at least 3/16ths of an inch remaining at each wheel for both the inboard and outboard pad. Brake rotors shouldn’t be gouged, and they shouldn’t have ridges or pockmarks of rust on either side. If they’re not in great shape, change them out.

Inspect the tires

Inspect the tires

Your all-season tires should have at least 4/32nds of an inch of tread depth remaining as you start the spring driving season, and there shouldn’t be any uneven wear across the tread or feathering. Since air pressure changes with the temperature, adjust the air pressure in your tires.

Perform a tire rotation

If your tire tread depths are uneven, it might be time for a tire rotation. There’s some debate about where to put the best tires during a tire rotation for car maintenance, but the prevailing idea is to install the best tires on the front. That ensures you have the best traction for steering and stopping.

Check the suspension and alignment

Have you heard any rattling or clunking over the winter? Does your steering feel loose or tight? Look for leaks at the shocks and struts, play in the sway bar links, suspension bushings, and ball joints, and look for cuts or leaks at the CV joints. Also, if your steering wheel is off center as you drive straight or your car pulls to the side when you’re driving on the highway, a wheel alignment should be scheduled.

Do a spring cleaning

Do a spring cleaning

Sand, salt, moisture, and a host of other things will find their way onto your carpets, upholstery, paint, wheels, and glass during the winter. At the first sign of spring, it’s a great time to wash away all the grime. A thorough spring cleaning requires only a handful of detailing supplies that you can use year after year. A good car wash, a deep vacuum, and a wipedown of all the plastic and glass will make your car look good as new and prevent corrosion while you’re at it.

Perform a tune-up (if required)

If it’s been a while since your last tune-up, your Check Engine Light has come on, or your odometer has crossed a significant milestone like 50k, 100k, or 150k miles, it could be time for a more in-depth car maintenance process. Spark plugs, ignition cables, and fluid flushes may be due. It’s best to follow the maintenance schedule provided by the manufacturer for major services.

If you complete the items on this spring car checklist, you’ll help minimize the overall cost of repairs and prevent untimely issues from occurring. Shop at AutoZone for all your spring car care needs, from detailing products and spark plugs to air filters, fluids, and more.

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FAQ/People Also Ask

How often should I do a spring car care checklist?

Every year, once the winter weather gives way to spring, you should complete a car care checklist. It prevents unwanted surprises during summer drives and keeps the cost of ownership down.

What should I do if I don’t feel comfortable doing the tasks on the checklist myself?

A certified technician is the best person to take care of your spring car care if you aren’t comfortable doing them yourself. Let AutoZone help you find qualified professional mechanics through our Shop Referral Program.

Can I save money by doing the tasks on the checklist myself?

Absolutely, you can do most of the spring car care checklist as DIY tasks. It saves on the cost of labor at a shop.

Are there any tasks on the checklist that are especially important?

While all aspects of car care are important, be sure not to neglect items that could affect safe driving such as the tires, brakes, and steering systems.

Is it okay to skip any tasks on the checklist?

If you’re switching off a set of winter tires for summer or all-season tires, it’s not necessary to rotate the tires.

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on AutoZone.com and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

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