5 tips for a smooth drive into spring from the IAM
The clocks have gone forward and days are longer than nights for the next six months; it's time to get your car hale, hearty and 'beach body ready' in preparation for the spring. This week's tips give advice on getting your car ready for the warmer weather, from IAM RoadSmart's head of driving and riding standards, Richard Gladman.
Lose weight; clear out those coats, boots, scarves and bags that took up permanent residence during the winter months. They add weight as well as taking up space, and surplus weight means wasted fuel.
Cut down on the salt; modern cars are much less prone to rust than their forbearers, but corrosion-causing salt from gritted roads can build up under the wheel arches and the suspension. Use a hose pipe to flush the wheel arches clean; if you have a pressure washer, even better. If not, try washing the arches after driving on wet roads – the mud and grit will have softened. The neighbours might think you're peculiar but you'll reduce the risk of expensive repairs.
Test your vision; the demister puts a film of grime from traffic fumes on the inside of the windscreen which can spread bright sunshine into a blinding glare. Get the screen squeaky clean with water and detergent, dry with a microfibre cloth and crystal clear vision will be restored. Don't forget the other windows; clean screens rarely mist up so you'll need the heated rear window far less – another fuel saver.
Keep hay fever at bay; most cars have pollen filters, but they need changing periodically to remain efficient. Look in your handbook to find out how to get to the filter and if it looks bad, change it now. Some very good after-market filters are available online, often with a charcoal layer to filter out pollutants as well as pollen.
Don't get hot and bothered; air conditioning is a boon as the temperature rises, but it contains a special gas which can slowly leak away. If it gets too low, the air-con will blow warm instead of cold. Test it by turning the heater control to minimum, the heater fan to maximum and make sure the air-con is turned on (i.e., not in "eco" mode). If you don't feel an icy blast after a couple of minutes, the system may need "re-gassing"; a simple job which most garages have the equipment to do.
Richard said: "Treat your car to a spring clean. The efforts to wash and polish it will last a bit longer now the winter salt has gone. Now is a good time to spend a therapeutic Sunday morning tinkering."