can be tough on lots of things, including cars and trucks. Cold
temperatures, snow and ice, road salt and pothole-causing freeze-thaw
cycles put car batteries, tires, brakes and suspensions to the test.
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration vehicle crashes due to neglected maintenance cause more than 2,600 deaths a year. Spring is the time to rid vehicles of winter's sins in time for summer
Since 1970, Americans have more than doubled their vehicle miles
traveled, according to federal statistics. In summer, many of those
miles are logged on driving vacations far from home, the last place
motorists want to risk a breakdown.
"Regular vehicle maintenance and inspections can help improve a vehicle's fuel efficiency, achieve peak performance and even help avoid major repairs down the road," says Peter Lord, executive director, GM Service Operations.
Winter's "major deadly sins" can affect just about all vehicle systems, but some are especially vulnerable. Vehicle owners can follow these tips to ensure their vehicles are ready to roll:
Batteries: They work harder when it's cold, and winter can compromise their cranking performance up to 60 percent. Test and replace old or weak batteries, especially those more than three years old. It can be cheaper than a tow and replacement on the road.
Tires, wheels: Cold weather can reduce tire pressure, so make sure all tires, including the spare, are properly inflated and balanced, and wheels are properly aligned. Inflate tires to their recommended pressure - check the inside of your car door to find out what the proper air pressure should be.
Under-inflated tires can reduce fuel economy by up to 3.3 percent, cause premature tire failure and are a safety hazard. Tire failures and blowouts, often a result of under-inflation, contribute to 414 deaths and 10,295 injuries each year in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In addition to tire pressure, check for tread wear and any obvious damage caused by potholes or sharp objects.
Belts and hoses: Inspect and replace worn or cracked belts, as well as hoses that are blistered, brittle or too soft. Belts and hoses older than five years, even if they look intact, might need to be replaced.
Brakes: A spring checkup can uncover any winter damage. Inspect the brake system, including lines, hoses, and parking brake. Inspect brake fluid for proper level. Low brake fluid can be an indication of excessive brake wear or fluid leak. Have the brake linings/pads inspected and measured.
Suspension: Deep potholes aren't friendly to shocks and struts. An inspection to determine wear or leaks can alleviate bigger issues down the road.
Other items to have inspected in the spring
Inspect the antifreeze/coolant level, making sure the coolant used meets the specifications listed in the vehicle owner's manual.
Check oil level regularly and change the oil every three months or 3000 miles, whichever comes first, for top performance and longer engine life.
Check the transmission fluid for correct level. Check the owner's manual for the right type of transmission fluid to use and the proper interval for service and replacement. Watch for leaks that can cause your transmission to fail.
Inspect power steering fluid for proper levels. Low power steering fluid can cause damage to the power steering system and lead to premature power steering failure.
Inspect windshield wiper blades for wear and cracks, ideally each spring and fall. GM recommends replacement of blades that look worn. Also inspect and replace the rear wiper blade, if equipped. Don't forget to check the windshield washer fluid.
Inspect and replace the engine air filter and the cabin air filter as necessary.
Inspect steering components and steering linkage.
Goodwrench is the service brand for GM vehicles. For more information, visit the GM Goodwrench Web site at www.goodwrench.com. In addition to the items above, GM Goodwrench offers exhaust system, transmission, drive shaft and u-joints, radiator, heater and air-conditioning hoses, interior lights, exterior lamps, brake lamps, turn signals and hazard warning lights inspection services.