Post-winter car checks

Posted on April 21st, 2015 by Rob Marshall


Now that spring is in the air and the weather is improving, it is a good idea to reward your car for getting you through winter safely. Not only will your vehicle look and feel better, treating it to a spring clean will also help to enhance its value.



Paint tends to suffer badly in wintertime. Treat it to a wash, using plenty of water and start from the roof and work down. Always use a good quality car shampoo and sponge (never use domestic cleaning products, including washing-up liquid, which contains salt). Remove small scratches with a mild paint cutting compound, applied and buffed with soft cloths, and seal the paintwork from strong sunlight, with a suitable automotive wax. It is also a good idea to spray the underside of the car with water to remove any road salt that will promote corrosion (the engine compartment excepted and do not use a pressure washer).


Check that the tyre pressures are correct and that the tread has at least 2mm remaining, for optimum performance. Inspect the sidewalls for damage, too. Once the outdoor temperatures exceed seven degrees Celsius regularly, consider removing your winter tyres and fit replacements that are optimised for warmer conditions.


If your air conditioning has not been used, over the winter period (doing so brings safety benefits), it is possible that the system might not work, when re-awoken. Having your air conditioning checked and its gas recharged by a specialist (the cost can be as low as £40), is a wise idea, in readiness for summer. Consider having the pollen filter changed too, if not done so at your last service.


Vacuuming the carpets will remove grit that has entered the interior, from passengers’ shoes over the winter, which will abrade the fabric and result in bald-spots, particularly in the driver’s foot well. Cleaning (or fitting) protective mats is also prudent. Wipe plastic surfaces of dust and clean the glass. Attend to any stains on fabric seats and leather surfaces will also benefit from treatment, to prevent them from drying out and cracking, as the weather warms.


Although checking all levels under the bonnet should be a weekly exercise, do not forget to continue to add screen-wash fluid to the washer bottle. Although anti-freezing properties tend to less relevant, it will help to prevent legionnaires ’ disease from developing in the bottle. Special summer-grade solutions are available, which are optimised to remove bugs and traffic film. Brake fluid also absorbs moisture, which reduces its boiling point, therefore it is prudent to have the system flushed through, if you are planning any long drives, especially those that involve lengthy descents.