Northern VA Auto Repair


Spring Clean your Vehicle

Here are our Top 10 tips for getting your car ready for the spring. Some will help your vehicle look (and smell) better, but most are designed to help it perform more efficiently and get better gas mileage.

1. Clean Your Undercarriage.

Winter road salt can be a real problem by eating away at its undercarriage, not to mention the chunks of road debris that collects underneath your vehicle during the winter months. Head to the car wash and choose the undercarriage cleaning option, alternatively you can get a detailer to do a thorough cleaning job if you prefer. Spring is also a good time to check your entire vehicle for rust, which can worsen during the winter months.

2. Check Your Tires.

Tire pressure changes about 1 pound per square inch for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit change in outside temperature, so it's important to check tire pressure after weather changes. Also, potholes and rough driving surfaces during winter months can take a toll on your vehicle's tires. If you have a tire gauge, check tire pressure against the recommended pressure for your vehicle and particular type of tire. If you maintain the ideal pressure, you will save money at the pump and prolong the life of your tires. You might also want to consider a tire rotation or if the tread is low, purchasing new tires.

3. Check Your Brakes.

Mud and crud make your brakes work harder, perhaps even causing wear that you wouldn't normally think of, so it’s a good idea to have your brakes checked now.

4. Check Your Wiper Blades.

Your wipers work hard all winter removing dirt and debris, including all that salt spray. Since the average life expectancy of a wiper blade is six months, check that the blades are making full contact with the windshield and have not dried out. Next time you’re filling up at a gas station, grap one of those paper towels from the complimentary squeegee bin and wipe down the blades to remove any build-up. Then, test your wipers by spraying the washer fluid and see if you get a clean wipe. Don't wait for those April showers to discover your blades aren't performing properly. And check the rear blade if you have one!

5. Change Your Engine Oil.

For a typical driver in the DMV, you generally change the oil every 3 or 4 months, which corresponds perfectly with the change in seasons. Once Spring is here, schedule an oil service with Craftsman and receive a complimentary car care digital inspection which includes topping off of fluids. Proper fluid levels are critical for your vehicle's best performance. Change the oil filter each time you change the oil, since it's obvious that a dirty filter won't keep the new oil clean!

6. Change Your Air Filter.

The air filter prevents dust and other impurities from getting into the combustion chambers of the cylinders, that if clogged, can result in wasted gas and weaker engine performance. According to the Car Care Council, replacing a clogged filter every 6 months can improve mileage by as much as 10 percent. Our Air Induction Service can improve fuel economy, reduce environmentally damaging exhaust emissions, and restore the great fun of like-new driveability to your vehicle.

Don’t forget the Cabin Air Filter! The cabin filter removes pollutants that can cause health problems from the air before it flows into your car. Things like allergens, mold, pollen, and dust are caught before you can inhale them.

7. Flush and Fill Your Cooling System.

This is a great insurance against possible engine failure, simply draining your radiator is not enough; you need to clean the system with a radiator flush product, not just plain water, to remove stubborn rust, grease and sediment. Then, replace the fluid with a 50/50 mixture of coolant and water.

8. Check Your Alignment.

Potholes and less than optimum driving conditions can throw your vehicle out of alignment. If your vehicle is pulling to one side or displays any signs of veering off to one side, you should have Craftsman check your alignment and readjust once spring arrives. Check out this page to see why an alignment is so important -

9. Check Your Battery and Spark Plugs.

Winter weather can cause problems for your battery's connections. Check posts and connections and make sure they are free from any dirt, grime or corrosion. Spark plugs fire as many as 3 million times every 1,000 miles. That's a lot of wear and tear in the form of electrical and chemical erosion. Dirty spark plugs can cause misfiring, erroneous check engine lights and WILL waste fuel.

10. Clean Your Car Interior.

Discard the debris that's been hibernating under the seats all winter. Your floormats and carpets have probably seen better days after salt, grime and winter debris are constantly brought into your vehicle. If you have special all-weather floormats, a simple hosing off will do wonders. If your floormats are carpeted, vacuum them and leave them out for a day and let the carpet breathe to help remove moisture and odors. Use a spray vinyl cleaner and a soft cloth on the dashboard, steering wheel, door panels and seats.

And about that “Junk in your Trunk”

Carrying extra weight around in your car can cause unnecessary wear and tear on everything from your tires and suspension to your engine. If you’ve been carrying winter gear around, now is the time to clear it out. Also, take inventory of your Emergency Road Kit and remove any winter items.

Bonus Tip: Headlight Refinishing

Sunlight, road debris, dirt, and salt will cloud your headlights over time, but especially during the winter. A simple headlight refinishing service is a quick and inexpensive way to restore them to their original brilliance.

OK all done! Finally, you're ready to wash and wax. Late March or early April is a good time to give your car a good wax. Spring rains will roll right off and your vehicle will be much easier to clean the next time you decide to wash it!


Auto Care