As warmer weather begins to set in across South Africa, now is a good time to spring clean your vehicle in preparation for a hot summer. Statistics show that South Africans spend up to three hours per week on average in their vehicles, so keeping the car in good condition is essential.
“There are many advantages to spring cleaning both the interior and exterior of the car. Firstly, keeping the exterior clean ensures the bodywork and paint are maintained, protecting the value of the vehicle, while keeping the interior clean ensures dirt doesn’t accumulate around equipment. Moreover, driving in a clean vehicle is always a more pleasurable experience for you and your passengers,” says AA.
Critically, the Association notes, the mechanics of the vehicle also need attention. Apart from spring cleaning because spring is around the corner, colder winter months can have adverse effects on a car, as low temperatures can interfere with the complex systems, parts, and connections that work together to keep the vehicle moving. Metal parts can constrict and shrink, fluids can freeze, expand, and contract, and rubber seals, gaskets, and belts may become stiff and brittle.
Some useful tips for keeping your vehicle spring-ready include:
- Rotate the tyres: Tires are vital safety features on vehicles and need to be kept in the best condition possible. The lifespan of tires can be extended by ensuring that they are rotated seasonally and inflated according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
- Replace windshield wiper blades if necessary: Cold winter temperatures are rough on rubber compounds like windshield wipers. Spring is a good time to inspect and replace your wiper blades if necessary. Don’t be caught in a downpour with ineffective wiper blades; not being able to see through the windshield in rain could have serious consequences. Be sure to also check that windshield wiper fluid is replenished.
- Inspect the brakes: In addition to tires, brakes are also essential safety features on vehicles. Like windshield wipers, brakes can take a beating during the winter months. Listen closely for any grinding, clanking, or squealing noises. The AA recommends inspecting brakes at least every quarter.
- Replenish fluids: Check all automotive fluids and replenish as needed. Winter forces a vehicle’s engine to work a bit harder, thus causing condensation and moisture build-up that can create wear. Any drop in fluid levels could indicate a leak somewhere, and it is best to have this checked before a bigger problem arises.
- Preserve the interior of the vehicle: Remove and wash floor mats and liners, then vacuum and replace floor mats and liners once they are completely dry. Wipe down the windows and steering wheel with car-safe cleaning products.
- Check steering and suspension: Potholes are part of our reality. Hitting these obstructions can interfere with the vehicle’s steering and suspension and cause the tires to be out of alignment.
- Thoroughly wash the vehicle: Dirt such as mud can build up in winter and is bad for paintwork and may cause rust and corrosion. Spring is the ideal time to wash away any winter grime. The AA recommends that owners wash their vehicles at least once every quarter as this also gives them an opportunity to properly inspect the vehicle for any damage.
- Improve driver safety: Cleaning the windshield and all windows thoroughly, inside and out, can guarantee visibility for the driver, passengers, and even other road users. Marks and blemishes can be dangerous as the glare of the sun can easily catch any slight marks on the windshield, obstructing visibility. It is also important to ensure that all lights (headlights, brake lights, and indicators) are completely clear of stains and marks.
- Service the vehicle: Don’t skimp on vehicle servicing; take it in when it is due. Some good reasons for regular services include that a well-looked-after vehicle will use the optimal amount of fuel, and a vehicle with a service history not only ensures its lifespan is extended but also that its resale value is maintained.
“Vehicles are expensive assets and should be well looked after and maintained properly. This not only ensures a better driving experience but also means the vehicle is safer. Spring is the ideal time to give a vehicle a good once-over,” concludes the AA.