This was a rough winter if you lived anywhere in the Northeast or Midwest.

But, it looks like we’re finally coming out of the cold and snow and into spring. Baseball’s started and April Showers are in full force.

With the nicer weather, you might be in the midst of Spring Cleaning your house. As you’re organizing the garage and landscaping the yard, don’t neglect your car or truck.

Winter weather takes a heavy toll on our vehicles. The extreme cold and fluctuations in temperatures can damage or weaken important parts. Salt and deicing fluid used for the roads can deteriorate metals and paint. And all the mud and sand on your boots are bad for your interior.

So, as you start to emerge from hibernation, here are some easy and practical things you can do to Spring Clean your car.


Reduce Your Salt Intake

The salt and deicing solution that kept you from slipping off the roads in February can cause major body damage if not properly cleaned. Its chemical and abrasive qualities can eat away and rust metal, damage paint or take a small scratch and make it worse.

One of the easiest things to do to prevent rust and salt damage is to wash your car. Be sure to use as high-powered a sprayer as possible and get into all the cracks. These are the places where the salt will accumulate and cause the most damage.

The one place that most people forget to clean is the undercarriage. Closest the road, the undercarriage receives the full brunt of winter salt.

An easy way to wash under your car, one that spares your knees and back, is to use a lawn sprinkler.

Leave the sprinkler under the car for a few hours until you sense that all the chemicals and salt have been removed.


I’m Rubber, You’re Glue

Rubber doesn’t do well in extreme temperatures. Very hot and very cold can stretch, crack or tear rubber parts.

This is a big problem when many seals, belts, tires and other parts of your car are made of rubber.

If you’re good at DIY repairs and can work your way around an engine, check over all your rubber parts. If not, take your car to a trusted mechanic and have them do it. Look for small cracks or wearing. These could be signs of more damage or that the part is about to fail.

For your tires, check the pressure. You should be doing this regularly anyways, but it’s especially important when the seasons shift. The warmer air will cause your tires to inflate. Over inflated tires can cause reduced fuel economy and be more easily damaged when you hit a pothole caused by winter ice.


Leave the Sand for the Beach

Just as the salt and sand damage the outside of your car, anything you track in on your boots gets ground into the carpet or seats.

Now that it’s warm enough to vacuum without getting frostbite, take the time to thoroughly clean the inside of your vehicle. Take out and wash, if possible, any floor mats. Don’t forget about your trunk where you might have stored shovels or bags of sand or kitty litter.

While you’re at it, use some vinyl or leather cleaner to clear your dash and seats of any built up dust or grime. This will also help seal them against the strong UV rays and heat of the summer sun.

Clean With A Garden Tool

In areas of the country with lots of snow and ice, a chemical pretreatment is often used on roads during winter. This can get underneath the car and cause damage. Here is a video from Pat Goss demonstrating how to remove the residue using a simple garden sprinkler.

This is a simple, easy trick to clean the hard to reach places of your vehicle, and hopefully will ward off future repair costs.

With these few simple Spring Cleaning tips, you can get your car shining again and be proud to cruise the boardwalk this summer.