Get Your Vehicle Ready Now for the Warmer Weather Ahead

Weather Talk
Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - 12:05pm

Proper maintenance and repair on your vehicle will help you save money and cruise safely through spring into summer!

I went to the local auto parts store yesterday to buy some oil, a filter some brake pads and have them hook up an engine computer monitor to find out what has not been functioning correctly. I am lucky my father in law is an excellent mechanic. Jesus has been fixing cars and trucks for over 40 years. I am very fortunate to have his expertise and help. I was driving back to the store this morning to purchase an oil pan I forgot, when I thought, I think we all need to recheck and maintain some things about our vehicles this time of year. In today’s “Weather Talk” I thought I, along with my father in law Jesus, would put together a maintenance check list of 8 areas you should check on your vehicle to get it ready for the warmer weather.

1. Check your tires

checking the air in your tires should be done at least once a month. Properly inflated tires help you save money on gas. Checking your tire tread is something you should do several times a year. It's important to make sure that you have adequate tire tread, and that the wear is even. To check tread depth, simply place the edge a penny into the tread of each tire, near the center. If the tread doesn't cover any portion of Abraham Lincoln’s head, you probably need new tires. Also, if there is excessive wear on the edge of any tires, it may be time for a new set and a four-wheel alignment.

2. Check your wheel alignment

For your vehicle to handle safely and properly you need to have your wheels in alignment. . This also will help your tires last longer so they will not wear out prematurely. Does your vehicle constantly pulls to one side or doesn't drive straight ahead when your steering wheel is centered? You may need to stop by a good tire or alignment shop. A $40 to $60 alignment can improve your car's handling, and prevent you from having to spend hundreds on a set of brand new tires.

3. Check your brakes

This is especially a good thing to do before taking long road trips during the spring and summer. You to make sure brakes have enough life left in them. If the brake check lamp is on your instrument panel, or if your car's braking is noisy or rough, then there's a good chance you need new pads. Sometimes the rotors need to be resurfaced or you may also need new rotors. Find a good local brake shop if you can or a trustworthy mechanic to do a thorough inspection.

4. Check your battery

This past winter here in the Borderland was not very cold, but colder weather can be harmful for car batteries. Your battery can lose power and deteriorate over a cold winter and become less reliable. Does you engine take a few seconds to start? Is your battery is more than four years old? You should take it or your vehicle to your local auto parts supplier to get tested. You may need a new one.

5. Check your spark plugs

Worn-out spark plugs can drastically reduce your fuel efficiency. Jesus, my father in law mechanic says it is always a good idea to check your spark plugs at least two times a year, before the winter and summer seasons. You should replace them if needed. You can easily shave off a few dollars in labor and part costs if you know how to replace them on your own.

6. Check your coolant

When the temperatures rise it's important to make sure your car's engine is getting adequately cooled. If the coolant light on your dash has been illuminated or if you simply haven't checked the coolant level in a while, open up the hood and make sure the fluid is at the proper level. Most cars have a fluid level gauge, so consult your owner's manual to find out how to check the level on your particular model. Make sure you only open the coolant cap when your car is cool. Opening the cap when your car has been driven can be very dangerous.

7. Check your wiper blades

Windshield wipers should be changed twice a year. You may want to take a good look at how your wipers are cleaning the windshield. If they're leaving streaks, even if it's just on the passenger side, it's about time for a change. It is definitely a good idea to swap them out before our “monsoon season” rainstorms. Most cars have specific-sized blades, so be sure to get the correct ones for your car. One-size-fits-all is not a good thing when it comes to wiper blades. Don't be afraid to spend a little extra on a good pair. It's worth it in the end.

8. Clean your vehicle!

Clean and vacuum the inside of your car. This just makes you feel better and you may even find things you have lost or some spare change! Break out the vacuum cleaner to and give the interior a nice big cleanse.
Now we focus on cleaning the outside of your vehicle. If you're washing it yourself, make sure that you have soap that's specifically meant for cars and never wash your vehicle in direct sunlight. Use a hose with a mist-spray nozzle to wet down the vehicle and wash away debris. Using a bucket with mild temperature water and soap, sponge down all areas of the car gently, rinsing the sponge frequently. Always do the fender and bumper areas as a final step. It is not a bad idea to blast the undercarriage and wheel wells with the hose to remove as dirt and debris as you can. Then, dry the vehicle lightly with a chamois or natural-fiber drying cloth.

Now we are ready to cruise safely and look good while we are doing it! I have learned a lot about vehicle maintenance and repairs over the past 5 or so years. The two most important lessons I have learned when it comes to vehicle maintenance are; One, making sure tires, brakes, batteries, etc… are kept in top condition, this keeps you, your family and your friends safe. Second, this regular maintenance and repair saves you big money in the long run.

Chuck DeBroder, Chief Meteorologist
KTSM, NewsChannel 9, NBC, El Paso, TX Chuck DeBroder NC9 @wxchuckNC9

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