Spring Cleaning Your Car for the Non-Mechanic

A young son helping to clean the family car with his dad.

Now that salted roads, cold temperatures, and ice are a distant memory and we’re fully planted into springtime, it’s time to wipe away the neglect and grime that built up during the winter. It’s time treat to your car to a spa day!

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Simple Car Care

You don’t have to be a mechanic, or have a mechanic in the family, to take on these spring cleaning tasks:

Get rid of the garbage

Remove all the junk that has accumulated over the last few months. Get under the seats, go through all the pockets, and don’t forget the glove compartment too.

Vacuum

Vacuum the upholstery paying special attention to pleats and seams, the dashboard, and console that has a knack for attracting dust and crumbs into the nooks and crannies, and finally, the floors: pull out and vacuum the mats, then the floor itself. Don’t forget to move the seats to get at those hard to reach areas.

Clean the carpet and upholstery

Stains and yes, sometimes smells, need more than just a good vacuum to get rid of; there are many upholstery and carpet cleaners designed specifically for cars that can help you get rid of that lingering reminder of a few too many meals on the road.

Scrub the winter floor mats

The build-up that happens naturally with slush, snow, and road salt takes its toll on all-rubber floor mats. Chances are you’ll need more than a power-wash to clean the dirt and grime; you’ll need a good scrubbing brush too.

Wipe down the windows

Months’ worth of grime on the inside of the windows can be tricky to clean. It may take a couple of tries to get it streak-free. Also, it’s important to use the right cleaner. Ammonia-based cleaners may be harmful in the long-run to some car surfaces, and if your windows are tinted, you’ll want to make sure that the cleaner won’t ruin your tint.

Don’t forget the trunk

Everything you did for the inside of your car, do for your trunk too.

Tip: If you have a car safety kit, don’t put it in storage. Most people think they only need it for winter, but you really should keep it in your car year-round. You never know when you might need that flashlight or jumper cables.

Wash the exterior of the car

Now that the inside is clean, move to the exterior. Washing the vehicle should be done regularly and more frequently if: driving on roads with road salt; driving in coastal areas; or if tar, soot, bird poop, insects or tree sap are stuck to the painted surfaces.

Mechanic Not Needed, Just the Owner’s Manual

Some car care requires a little more knowledge, but if you pull out your handy owner’s manual, you can:

Change your wiper blades

If the wiper blade rubber had deteriorated over the winter, it will leave streaks making it tough to see while driving. Wiper blades should be changed a couple of times a year, and what better time than during a spring-cleaning spa day?

Top up your window washer fluid

Murphy’s Law says, you’ll run out at the most inopportune time — when you need it most — which can be dangerous, so always keep a spare container of window washer fluid in your trunk.

Check your tire pressure and treads

Check your tire pressure regularly (including the spare) and keep it at the level recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Also check your tire tread wear: tires are manufactured with wear bars and when the bar becomes exposed, it’s time to look into replacing them.

Not Everything Can Be A DIY Project

Mechanics are there for a reason, so don’t forget to take your car in regularly for a tune-up, oil change, and an overall good looking over. Filters, hoses, belts and fluids will all get the attention they need, and a spring spa day is incomplete without at least making an appointment with your mechanic.

Professional vehicle maintenance will ensure that your car is good to go, when you’re ready to go.

Spring Clean Your Auto Insurance

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