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It’s not just the house that can benefit from some TLC. Winter weather takes its toll on cars too – and we’re talking performance as well as cosmetic appearance.
So, if you want to get the best out of your car, it’s important you take advantage of the improving weather and give it a seasonal spruce-up.
We asked Mark Barclay from car parts retailer Autosessive to share his top tips on giving your car a proper spring clean.
Remove unnecessary weight
One of the quickest and easiest ways to improve the efficiency of your car is by removing unnecessary items that might be weighing it down.
It’s easy for clutter to accumulate, especially in winter. Spring is a great time to ask yourself whether everything that in the boot and footwells should really be there.
According to the RAC, every extra 50kg you’re lugging around increases fuel consumption by 2%. So removing unnecessary car seats, bike racks, roof boxes and general clutter will save money (and reduce the amount of pollution your car emits).
Wash the undercarriage
Many roads are heavily salted during the winter to keep them ice-free.
While this improves road safety, the salt can damage your vehicle by causing rust and corrosion if left unchecked.
Therefore, when winter comes to an end and the roads no longer treated, it’s important that you thoroughly wash the undercarriage of your car.
In the past, you might have had to jack up your car to gain access to its underside. However, there are now underbody lances you can connect to a hose or pressure washer and simply slide under your car to give it a thorough clean.
Clean your exhaust
If you have a petrol or diesel-fuelled car, its exhaust fumes will contain carbon dioxide, as well as smaller quantities of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.
Because of this, the inside of your exhaust pipe can become coated in carbon and turn black. If it’s left to build up this can prevent your exhaust from releasing the fumes properly, and can have a negative impact on your car’s performance and efficiency. Therefore, it’s important that you clean out your exhaust.
The first step of this process is to wash away any superficial dirt with soap and water. Use a round, hard-bristled brush to clean the inside, and an old cloth to wipe the tip.
You should then apply a degreaser that will help to dissolve any carbon deposits that are left.
Once you’ve left this to soak for the time specified on the product you’ve used, you can scrub off the degreaser in small, controlled circles with wire wool.
Depending on how long your exhaust has been left, you might have to repeat this a few times.
Clean your air filter
It’s important that you clean your air filter regularly, and replace it if necessary. By doing so, you can improve your fuel mileage, increase acceleration, and prolong your engine’s life.
This is also a relatively cheap and easy thing you can take care of without the help of a mechanic.
It’s difficult to predict how often your air filter will need to be cleaned or changed, but your car’s owner’s manual should give you a good idea.
People tend to clean their air filter with either a cleaning solution or a vacuum, and there a pros and cons to both approaches. While washing your air filter is likely to clean it much more thoroughly, it does take a lot longer.
This is because you need to wait until it is completely dry before replacing it, or you’ll risk damaging your engine.
Vacuuming, on the other hand, won’t it get it quite as clean, but you will be able to put it back as soon as you’re done.
Check your tyres
Winter roads can be tough on tyres, so it’s worth checking for scratches, indentations and other signs of damage.
You can check tread depth by inserting a 20 pence coin into the tread. If the rim of the coin is visible, your tyres are probably not legal – by law, you must have a tread depth of 1.6mm.
You should check your tyres are properly inflated every couple of weeks, all year round.
By adding these steps to your car spring cleaning routine, you will help your vehicle to run much more efficiently, and be able to prevent certain types of damage that are quite common at this time of year.