It's Spring cleaning time and once you're finished with the house, it's time to take a look at what's in the driveway. Few things will benefit more from a seasonal once over than your car.

From the tires to the interior, your car has had a tough slog through the winter -- no matter where you are. Severe temperature changes, salt covered roads and sitting out in the cold takes its toll on a car's paint, rubber seals and interior.

Just a few minutes of maintenance this Spring will help ensure your vehicle gives you reliable transportation, better fuel economy and keeps you rolling through those dog days of summer and into the fall.

Here are five areas to check to keep you safer, happier and a little more road worthy.

Tires

Tires

Why they are important: This is where the rubber meets the road, literally. For the past six months, your tires have undergone stressful temperatures, driven over rubber gouging ice and trampled through extreme potholes. They deserve some extra TLC.

What to do:

1. Inspect them. Look for gouges, scrapes and cuts. Check the tread and ensure the wear on them is even.

2. Inflate them. When the temperature changes by more than 10 degrees, a tire can lose air pressure. If a tire is just 6 psi under inflated, it can fail on the road, according to TireRack.com. If it doesn't fail on the road, it will fail at the pump, costing you as much as 5 percent of your fuel economy. With gas running over $4.00 per gallon, that adds up to more than a few lattes.

3. Rotate them: In order to ensure proper wear on your tires, they should be rotated every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, depending upon the wheel.

Exterior

Exterior

Why this is important: Snow, ice or even rain have battered your vehicle during the winter months. There could be chips in the paint, cracks in the windshield or other pieces lose on the exterior could turn a minor inconvenience into a major hassle.

What to do:

1. Hand wash and wax your vehicle. The close, personal attention will point out any defects on the car such chips in the paint, loose mirrors or other little problems.

2. Touch up: Use touch up paint on little chips or scratches to prevent those spots from rusting.

3. Check your windshield and wipers: Small cracks and chips on the windshield are easy to fix when small and do not require a new windshield. Left unattended, save up for the new windshield. Also, winter is tough on wiper blades, check to make sure the entire blade still cleans the windshield and replace as needed.

4. Wax on / wax off: A good coat of wax in the spring will help the car during all of those sunny days that can fade a car's paint.

Fluids

Fluids

Why this is important: Your vehicle is a mechanical marvel that uses a number of different fluids to help the driver, lubricate the engine and otherwise keep the machine running smoothly.

What to do:

1. Check coolant level: Only do this when the engine is cold.

2. Check brake fluid level.

3. Check windshield wiper fluid level.

4. Check the transmission fluid.

5. Check oil level. Have oil and oil filter replaced every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Most cars will be around 5,000 miles or more. Don't make un-needed donations to the local oil change shop.

Engine

Engine

Why this is important: It's the engine, it's a car, enough said.

What to do:

1. Check hoses and belts. While the engine is off, check the hoses to make sure they are properly connected and no fluid is leaking out near any connections. Pull gently on the belts to make sure they are taut and not too loose. Inspect the rubber on the belts and hoses to make sure it not overly dry or cracking.

2. Check the battery connections to make sure they are not corroded and the cables are well connected.

3. Change your air filter. A well breathing engine is a happy engine. It's also more fuel efficient and runs better.

Interior

Interior

Why this is important: This is where you spend most of the time with your car. A clean, comfortable interior also makes for a safer driving atmosphere. Most of all, a little care now will help keep the interior newer looking and feeling better.

What to do:

1. Clean the carpet. A winter's worth of mud and salt were brought into the vehicle by everyone who climbed inside. Get it out. Your rugs, and feet will appreciate it.

2. Empty the trunk. Take all of those winter items stored in the trunk and put them in a box in your garage. You won't need an ice scraper, bag of kitty litter or that shovel, just in case. Plus, dumping that extra weight will help your fuel economy.



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