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Spring Clean up!

Posted by: Paul Brian

The grass is turning green (finally) and our spring/summer driving time is upon us. Many who write us via AskPaul@DriveChicago.com or call on Saturday mornings on Drive Chicago on WLS have questions about what they should be doing before those warm-weather month miles start to click off. I asked Paul Benedetto, Service Director of O'Hare Honda to give us his advice.

Wash the car: If you are able to, begin with a "do it yourself" hand wash of your vehicle. This will provide you with an opportunity to look the vehicle over carefully. Over the winter chips to paint and glass may have been overlooked. If chips in the paint or glass do exist, consider getting them repaired or touched up in short order. Small chips turn into rust spots quickly, and glass chips can spread into a replacement-sized cracks. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A good undercarriage bath is also recommended to remove salt that could be eating away at the underside of your vehicle. You can use a lawn sprinkler to accomplish this task, however; a professional undercarriage bath at the local car wash is the best method.

Check the tires: During the winter, the tires take a lot of punishment: snow ruts, potholes, curb strikes and the like. Check the tires for cracks or splits in the sidewall. Check for bulges or bubbles in the sidewall, and measure the overall tread depth. Rotate the tires and set the pressure to the recommended pressure. Be sure to replace all tires that have sidewall damage. Remember that properly inflated tires improve fuel economy!

Check the wiper blades: Over the winter your wiper blades have been under much more strain that in the spring and summer months. On average, wiper blades should be replaced every six months. But at a minimum, fill your washer reservoir and try them out. Finding out the wiper blades are not up to task is not something you want to discover during an "April Shower."

Check the Battery condition: When it is cold outside, we tend to hurry in and out of the car without giving thought to looking at the obvious things on our vehicles such as tires and wiper blades. And certainly unless there is trouble, we won't stop and open the hood. During the winter, the battery has been under extra strain and needs an inspection. Open the hood and look at the battery and cables. Do you see corrosion? Are the battery connections tight? If the battery is more than three years old consider having it tested and replaced it if necessary.

Change the oil and filter: Recommendations vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, however, very often during the winter; oil becomes "gas washed" due to extended engine cranking time and engine flooding in winter. Gas in the oil has the effect of thinning the oil out, thereby reducing the protective properties of the oil. Check your records, the oil level, and the oil condition. If it appears dark, smells of gasoline, or if it has been more than four months or four thousand miles since the last time it was changed, it is time to do it again. There is hardly any vehicle maintenance expense cheaper than an oil change--your engine will thank you by lasting longer and operating cooler and more efficiently.

Check the air filter: That summer vacation trip is almost here and a clogged air filter can reduce fuel economy by as much as 10 percent! Want to improve your mileage and beat the gas mileage standard for your vehicle? Make certain the filter is clean have a new filter on hand and compare it to the one in your vehicle. How does the old look versus the new? That will provide the best answer to the question: "Do I need a new one?"

Check the Cooling System: Engine coolant should be checked for cleanliness and protection capacity. At the same time, the cooling system's radiator, hoses and clamps should be inspected for leaks, cracks, and wear and tear. There are organizations that recommend flushing the coolant every two years or 24,000 miles on your vehicle. However; nearly all manufacturers are using some type of "Extended Life" Coolant/Antifreeze. These longer life coolants/antifreeze's can last up to 5 years or 100,000 miles, so it is best to consult your owner's manual and follow their specific recommendations.

Cabin Air Filter: Most vehicles are equipped with a Cabin Air Filter. This filter catches dust and small airborne particles that can make their way into the passenger compartment. Over the fall and winter seasons, these filters become saturated. When saturated they do not perform well, and they can also cause a musty odor when operating the air conditioning and heating systems. Check them and replace them as necessary. If you are an allergy sufferer, you will especially benefit from a clean cabin filter!

Check the Big Three: Check your transmission fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid for proper levels and overall cleanliness and condition. Hot summer temperatures are going to put a strain on all the systems that are cooled and lubricated by these fluids. Don't risk damage to any of the related components. Maintenance of these systems is inexpensive, invest a little now and save big later.

Safety Check/The Forgotten Items: Last but not least:

  • How safe is your vehicle?
  • Are all lights, 4-way flashers and turn signals working?
  • Does the horn work?
  • Are all the mirrors in good operating condition? Do they have any cracks? Do they adjust up and down and in and out?
  • Do all doors lock and unlock properly?
  • Is there an emergency first aid kit in the trunk?
  • Have you checked the spare tire and jack and tool kit? Is it all there? Do you know how to operate it?
  • Is the owner's manual in the glove compartment where it always should be?


If you can answer "yes" to these questions, your chances for a happy stress free summer driving experience are greatly increased.

Our thanks to Paul Benedetto, Service Manager of O'Hare Honda for these Spring and Summertime Tips for keeping your car in top operating shape! You can contact Paul by writing pbenedetto@ohareautogroup.com or calling 847-553-3167 (Direct Business).

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