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April is National Car Care Month (What About the Rest of the Year?)

NCCM_Color1As the title suggests, the Car Care Council has named the month of April “National Car Care Month,” and April has passed us by like a semi in the fast lane. Hopefully, April hasn’t passed you by without you taking a look at your car. After all, with winter behind us and summer ahead of us, April is the perfect time to get your car ready for those late spring drives and hot summer road trips. Here are a few things to keep in mind for your immediate car care needs:

  • Tires – If you haven’t swapped out your snow tires, do it now, before warmer temperatures cause them to wear abnormally. Make sure you have at least 4/32” tread depth remaining, to prevent hydroplaning, and that all four tires are set to the proper tire pressure.
  • Wipers – If you have winter blades on the car, now’s a good time to put on a new pair of summer blades. Spring rains can often come sudden, and you don’t want to caught with worn-out blades and no visibility!
  • Air Conditioning – If you knew that AC helps you defog your windows in the winter, then good for you: You probably noticed whether or not it was working, and your AC system is well-exercised for a harsh summer workout. Have your AC system performance-tested before the procrastinators take up all the service stalls.
  • Cabin Filter – If any of you suffer seasonal allergies, spring is a great time to replace that cabin air filter or pollen filter. Paper and media filters are good at capturing dust and pollen, while carbon filters help to filter out unpleasant smells.

car%20diagram_fullOf course, just because National Car Care Month is only the month of April, this doesn’t mean that you can forget about car care the other 11 months of the year! Indeed, while there are some car care items you only need to pay attention to once a year, there are some things that you should be attentive to every week, even every day:

  • Every Drive – Pay attention to warning lights on the dash, especially the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) and the check engine light, which are critical to the safety and fuel economy of your car.
  • Every Week – Check your headlights, taillights, turn signals, marker lights, brake lights, and reverse lights, as they enable you to see and be seen. Check your oil level and top off your washer fluid. Clean your car inside and out, to prevent corrosion, fading, and wear.
  • Every Quarter – If possible, check your transmission fluid, or at least look for leaks. Also check the battery and cables for corrosion, belts for proper tension and condition, and engine coolant hose condition. Check the engine air filter for excessive debris, and be attentive to exhaust leaks and excessive noise.
  • Every Six Months – Make sure your wiper blades clear your windshield properly. Don’t balk at spending “extra” money on new blades – It’s cheap visibility insurance! Check your brakes.
  • Every Year – Check your cabin filter – Spring is a good time for a fresh filter. Check your engine coolant level and condition, as well as power steering fluid, brake fluid, and clutch fluid, if you drive a stick. Spring is also a good time to have your suspension and wheel alignment checked, since winter is usually harsh on these components.

Your car has to be with you every day, whether you’re going to work, school, or vacation. Don’t forget to take care of your car every day, and your car will take care of you!

Here’s a Car Care Council infographic to help you keep things straight:

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