With the snow season tapering off and the temperatures slowly climbing, there’s no time like the spring to get your vehicle in tip-top shape for the demands of summer. According to AAA, an estimated 7.9 million motorists become stranded between Memorial Day and Labor Day. We all know that Minnesota’s harsh winters can take a toll on your vehicle!
Increased rainfall paired with potholes (as a result of tough winter conditions) affect the number of road hazards you’ll need to avoid, not to mention the uptick in road construction necessary to fix these problems.
Without a doubt, spring is the perfect time to perform a basic vehicle check. Here is a list of steps you can take to ensure safe driving, before you head out on those long summer road trips.
Spring Vehicle Inspection Checklist
According to AAA, there are 1.1 million flats reported nationwide each summer. This is at least in part due to shifting temperatures, which can affect tire pressure dramatically. The National Highway Safety Administration warns that tire failures – especially blowouts – are typically associated with rollover crashes. Both under-inflation and overloading increase heat build-up in tires.
That’s why the 15 minutes or so you spend inspecting your tires today could end up saving our life tomorrow. First, use a good-quality gauge to check your tire pressure when they’re cold (meaning the car has not been driven recently). Be certain that all tires, including your spare, are inflated to vehicle manufacturer’s specifications. Next, inspect the tread depth, wear, and overall condition of your tires.
Check the condition of your battery visually first, looking for leaks or build-up on connections and inspecting battery cables to see that they’re securely attached to the terminals. If you spot signs of corrosion, clean the terminals, disconnecting the cables to remove external corrosion as well as cleaning hidden areas that may make contact with the battery terminals. Stop by your local auto shop and have them run a test on your battery to find out how much life you have left.
Just like with your skin, winter weather can leave your car feeling parched. Check the state of your oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, wiper fluid and coolant for signs of depletion or grime. Remember to check the oil when your engine is cold, in order to get an accurate reading.
Wiper blades take a beating in the winter and spring in Minnesota. The life of your wiper blades depends upon the amount of driving you’ve done in poor weather conditions, but typically 6 to 12 months is the average lifespan of their rubber inserts. If your blades are streaking, showing wear or making noise as they move across your windshield, it’s a good bet they need to be replaced.
You’re going to need a partner for this one. Test to be sure that all the lights on your vehicle are in good working order. Have someone watch as you test to see that your headlights, taillights, brights, hazards, and turn signals are functioning properly. Replace any bulbs that may be out or dimming and check all wiring to ensure that your malfunction is not a simple disconnection in the wires.
This is the most crucial check of all, especially for Minnesotans. According to the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center, Minneapolis-St. Paul uses 260 pounds of road salt per person each winter. This salt can lead to corrosion on your brake parts. If your brakes aren’t gripping the way they should, if your vehicle is pulling to one side when you hit the brakes, if there are squeaking or grinding noises, or your brake pedal feels too soft or loose, these could be signs that you need to have your brakes replaced or the braking system professionally inspected.
By doing your car inspection now in the spring, you can ensure your summer is worry-free and full of fun when you hit the road.