Spring Service Checklist for Your SUV

Published March 16, 2017 by Sean Jackson

With the warmer weather becoming constant in most areas of the country soon, now is the time to turn your focus to preparing your SUV for the changing climates. If you are like most, you’ll drive your SUV more during this season so it’s important it is in top shape to keep up with your demands. Most of the services outlined on the list are inexpensive and take a matter of minutes to do, but they can save you money by helping stay on top of maintenance. This ensures your SUV performs to the best of its ability, helping to deliver better braking, acceleration, fuel efficiency, and handling. Additionally, by properly cleaning it, you ensure it keeps its showroom shine for longer.

Clean Thoroughly

If you live in an area of the country with winter weather, then it’s likely you drive over salt covered roads. As you do so, the underbody of your SUV transforms from its body color to salt color quickly. The longer the salt sits on the body, the more damage it can do to the paint and body of your SUV such as creating rust which will plummet the value of your vehicle. With this in mind, you want to clean your SUV regularly, especially at the end of winter to remove excess salt. To do this, you have several options. For starters, you can run the SUV through an automatic car wash. If you select this option, you should choose the underbody spray. After it goes through the wash, inspect your SUV’s underbody to make sure all the salt is gone. Another option is to take a pressure washer and fill it with a combination of water and vinegar. This solution neutralizes salt by removing it easily. The vinegar-water solution works well to clean the interior of your SUV as well. Chances are you tracked salt in on the bottom of your shoes so as it settles into the carpet or floor mats, it causes damage if left untreated. Therefore, take the solution and put it into a spray bottle. Next spray the areas affected, scrubbing gently with a brush to bring the salt to the surface. Lastly, you can use a towel to pick up the salt.

Change Wiper Blades

A good rule of thumb is to change your wiper blades once every six months. If you live in an area with winter weather, it’s ideal to make the first change as the weather turns. You can buy winter wiper blades which will hold up well given the harsher conditions. However, once winter leaves, it’s important to put on a fresh pair. This ensures they operate properly giving you a better view when the weather becomes wet.

Remove Snow Tires

Snow tires provide added traction to help your SUV traverse through wet or icy conditions. At the same time, when those conditions don’t exist anymore, you don’t need them on your SUV. Instead, change them out with the size specified in your manufacturer's owner’s manual. Not only will this give your SUV more appropriate tires to face the road conditions you’ll encounter, but you also receive good handling, traction, and braking power.

Inspect Brakes

Speaking of stopping power, your SUV’s brakes are another area to focus on. As you pile on the miles on your SUV, the brakes wear down. Another factor wearing down your SUV’s brake pads is the traffic conditions. Those living in areas with regular winter weather can attest to the fact traffic patterns change often. This is due to the slick road conditions and drivers becoming afraid due to the change in weather. The stop and go traffic flow wears down the pads quicker, so it’s important to schedule an inspection after the winter weather ends. However, if you notice a grinding sound when applying the brakes, the brake pedal feels like it’s sinking or you notice the SUV takes longer to complete a stop, then take your vehicle in for service immediately, as these are all indicators there could be brake problems.

Do a Battery Inspection

Winter is harsh on your SUV. The cooler temperatures make the vehicle work harder to develop the same performance you have become accustomed to. One of the areas under the most strain is the SUV’s battery. Therefore, an inspection is in order. You can do this by popping open the hood of your SUV and inspecting the connections to the battery. When doing this, make sure the connections to the battery are free of any corrosion. In the event you notice some dirt on the cables you should remove and clean them. To do this, remove the cables at the negative end first. Next, go to your local auto parts store and buy some cleaner solution. Lastly, clean the cables then reattach them. By doing these things, you keep your battery in great shape so it gives you the full use as intended.

Use Your Owner’s Manual As Your Service Guide

Your vehicle’s owner’s manual is an invaluable way to gain the information you need on when to do services. Each manual comes with a maintenance schedule where it offers suggestions on when to do specific services such as oil changes, tire rotations, changing brake pads and more. As your SUV accumulates more miles, you’ll be using this service guide more. To illustrate, depending on your driving conditions and chemical makeup of your SUV’s brake pads, it’s likely you’ll need to change them when your SUV reaches the 50,000-mile mark. With that said, driving in winter weather places extra stress on your vehicle, meaning you can wear down critical parts like brakes and tires quicker. For this reason, it’s important to do the small services in a timely manner because when you do you have technicians become familiar with your SUV. As they do, they can help to identify any small issues that might arise. This helps you stay on top of maintenance as well as avoid an ill-timed breakdown from occurring.

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