Now is the time to spring clean your vehicle

A good spring clean is key to safe summer driving

Reuben Van Niekerk
Consumer advice
vehicle maintenance
car care

As warmer weather arrives across South Africa, now is a good time to spring clean your car, in preparation for summer. Apart from cleaning your car after winter, spring is also a good time to inspect the vehicle mechanically. Cold winter months can have an adverse effect as lower temperatures can interfere with complex systems, parts, and connections. Metal parts can constrict and shrink, fluids can freeze, expand, and contract and rubber seals, gaskets and belts can become stiff and brittle.

Clean your car thoroughly

Statistics show that South Africans spend a minimum of three hours a week in their car, so keeping your car clean is a great way of improving the driving experience.

Keeping the exterior of your vehicle clean ensures the bodywork and paint are maintained, which is vital in protecting the value of the vehicle. Dirt such as mud can build up in winter, which is bad for paintwork and can also lead to rust and corrosion of untreated components. Spring is the ideal time to wash away the winter grime. While thoroughly cleaning the vehicle inspect it for any damage or components that might be loose or in need of replacing.

Maintaining interior cleanliness ensures that dirt doesn't accumulate around equipment. Most importantly, driving in a clean vehicle ensures a more pleasurable experience for you and your passengers. 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 the steering wheel with car safe cleaning products.

Rotate the tyres

Tyres on the front and rear axle will wear differently and rotating the tyres periodically is a great way of prolonging the lifespan of the set of tyres and ensuring that they all wear down relatively evenly. Tyres are a vital safety feature and need to be kept in the best condition possible. It is also critical to ensure that your cars tyres are always inflated to the correct pressure for the load you are carrying.

Replace windshield wiper blades

Cold winter temperatures are rough on rubber components like windshield wipers. Spring is a good time to inspect and replace your wiper blades, if necessary, before the summer rains arrive. Getting caught in a downpour with ineffective wiper blades is extremely dangerous as not being able to see sufficiently could have serious consequences. At the same time be sure to check that the windshield wiper fluid is replenished and add a bespoke cleaning fluid to further improve its effectiveness.

Inspect the brakes

As with tyres, brakes are also an essential safety feature on vehicles and can take a beating during winter months. Listen closely for any grinding, clanking or squealing noises and have your brakes attended to by a professional if you suspect any potential shortcomings.

Check steering and suspension

Potholes are a common feature on South African roads and hitting these obstructions can damage a vehicles steering or suspension components or cause the wheels to be out of alignment. Driving with misaligned wheels can cause premature suspension and tyre wear. Vibrations or off centre steering are sure signs that you should have your wheel alignment check by a specialist, who will utilise sophisticated measuring equipment to ensure it is returned to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Replenish fluids

Check all fluids and replenish as needed. Winter forces a vehicle’s engine to work a bit harder, causing condensation and moisture build up that can create unnecessary wear. Any drop in fluid levels could indicate a leak somewhere and it is best to have these checked before a bigger problem arises.

Ensure optimal visibility

Cleaning the cars windscreen and all windows thoroughly, inside and out, guarantees visibility for the driver, passengers and other road users. Marks and blemishes can be dangerous as the glare of the sun can catch these marks and obstruct visibility. Any chips or cracks should be attended to, either by windscreen chip treatment or having the windscreen replaced as higher summer temperatures will cause these cracks to expand, further reducing visibility.

It is also important to ensure that all lights, including headlights, brake lights and indicators are in working order and completely clear of any stains or markings.

Service the vehicle

The manufacturers service intervals and recommendations on which parts need to be replaced at these service intervals are carefully calculated to ensure the reliability and longevity of your vehicle. It is therefore important not to skimp on vehicle servicing and to have your vehicle service in line with these recommendations. Well serviced vehicles will use an optimal amount of fuel, will remain reliable for many years, ensure occupant safety and protect the resale value of the vehicle and spring is a great time to have your vehicle service if it was neglected over the winter months.

Read more about keeping your well maintained on the blog.