HOUSTON - April showers may bring May flowers, but the winter months' effects on your vehicle may bring up something other than roses. As winter fades and warmer temperatures return, a 'spring cleaning' for your vehicle will help keep it in proper driving shape.
The car care experts at Jiffy Lube® recommend the following tips to help you shake your vehicle's winter blues.
The conditions in which you drive play a significant role in how often you should have preventive maintenance performed on your vehicle, especially when the oil and other vital fluids should be changed.
Vehicle manufacturers recommend different maintenance intervals for various types of driving conditions. "Normal" driving conditions typically refer to highway driving, when the vehicle is able to maintain a consistent speed for a sustained period of time. "Severe" driving is actually more common; it refers to stop-and-go traffic, frequent short trips that do not allow the engine to reach its optimal temperature, extreme hot or cold weather conditions, hauling heavy loads, and other conditions.
Vehicle manufacturers typically recommend more-frequent maintenance intervals for vehicles driven in severe service conditions, since oil components tend to degrade faster when the engine has to work harder. Refer to your manufacturer's recommendation for when your engine's oil should be changed, but a good rule of thumb is every three months or 3,000 miles.
Engine & Cabin Air Filters
A clean air filter helps the engine combust an optimal air-to-fuel mixture, making it run more smoothly and efficiently. When the air filter is clogged with debris, dirt or leaves that prevent air from passing through freely, the engine has to work harder. A good test is to hold a dirty air filter up to a light source. If you cannot see through it, it's probably time to get it changed. Check your vehicle owners' manual for the recommended replacement interval.
Cabin air filters are also important because they clean the air you breathe inside the vehicle. Many vehicles on the road today are equipped with them and most need periodic replacement. Check your vehicle owner's manual for the replacement schedule your vehicle manufacturer recommends.
Engine Coolant, Transmission & Other Fluids
Your engine produces plenty of heat that must be dissipated. A fresh and proper mixture of engine coolant and water is critical to that process. Check you owner's manual for the correct fluid and mixture. Avoid the risk of getting burned by refraining from opening the radiator cap unless the engine has cooled for at least few hours. Fill the radiator as needed and the supplementary reservoir tank to above the "low" or "cold" mark.
As the synchronizers, bearings and gears in your transmission wear out, metal particles can break free and float around in the transmission fluid. These particles prevent the transmission fluid from performing properly and can cause the gears in the transmission to grind and wear. Over time, additives in transmission fluid can also degrade and the fluid can become contaminated. Transmission fluid should be changed regularly according to the schedule recommended by the vehicle's manufacturer. The same goes for your vehicle's differential, power-steering and brake fluids.
Windshield Wiper Blades & Washer Fluid
Many drivers don't think about their windshield wiper fluid and wiper blades until they're caught in bad weather. Check and fill your fluid level at the reservoir tank under the hood.
Wiper blades should glide smoothly across the windshield without leaving streaks behind. They typically last about six to 12 months before they should be replaced. Run your fingers down the blade and check for nicks and tears; if there are any, you may need to replace the blades.
As the weather heats up, you want your air conditioner to keep you cool. When parts of the system that remove moisture are not functioning properly, moisture can gather in the A/C system, causing water droplets to leak into your vehicle's refrigerant and form corrosive acid. If the A/C system is not blowing cold air, it may be time to replace your A/C refrigerant and have your system checked.
Belts & Hoses
Before hitting the road, inspect your vehicle's hoses and belts to make sure they are not cracked, swollen or worn. Twist each belt to get a clear look at its top, sides, and bottom. Check for cracks, splits, missing chunks, peeling, and oil on the belt.
During the month of May 2007, participating Jiffy Lube® service centers and Pennzoil® are offering a buy-one, get-one-free promotion to give drivers extra incentive to care for their vehicles. Drivers who purchase a Jiffy Lube Signature Service® Oil Change with Pennzoil or Quaker State® motor oil will receive a mail-in coupon for a free, identical Jiffy Lube Signature Service® Oil Change. The offer is valid through September 30, 2007.
Keeping your vehicle on your spring cleaning checklist will help protect your investment and keep your vehicle running smoothly. More information about preventive maintenance and how cars work is online at www.jiffylube.com. Jiffy Lube® service centers across the country can also perform these and other preventive services quickly, conveniently and without an appointment.
Jiffy Lube®, with more than 2,200 service centers in North America, serves approximately 27.5 million customers each year. Jiffy Lube® pioneered the fast oil change industry in 1979 by establishing the first drive-through service bay, providing customers with fast professional service for their vehicles. Headquartered in Houston, Jiffy Lube® International is a wholly owned, indirect subsidiary of Shell Oil Company. Visit www.jiffylube.com to learn more about Jiffy Lube® and vehicle care.