NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Spring is here and it's time to help your car recover from the damaging effects of winter. The mild weather allows you to test all critical vehicle systems and see what shape they're in.
To guide you in your efforts, CarMax Inc., the nation's largest retailer of used cars, offers these tips on how to spruce up your car for spring:
Take your car to an automatic car wash that has an undercarriage wash.
This can help remove corrosive residues left behind by winter road treatments used to melt ice and snow.
Wash and wax your car.
The wax will protect the paint from damaging UV rays.
Change the oil and filter every 3,000 miles and have the air filter and PCV valve checked and replaced if needed.
Winter temperatures can cause the formation of harmful condensation and acids in the engine oil.
Have your vehicle diagnosed by an automotive professional if the engine is not running smoothly or any other conditions arise.
Preventive measures extend the life of your vehicle and improve gas mileage.
Don't forget to have a qualified technician check the following:
The condition of the engine coolant, belts and hoses.
Hoses deteriorate from the inside out and summer driving gives your cooling system a workout.
All the lights and lenses for cracks.
You should also replace wiper blades each spring and fall to ensure optimum visibility in all weather conditions.
The tires for any abnormalities.
The tire pressure should also be set at the level specified for your vehicle.
All the wheels.
And inspect the brakes thoroughly for damage due to corrosion since most states use salt, sand or other chemicals to melt snow and ice on the roads. During this process, it is also a good idea to have the tires rotated.
Your vehicle's steering and suspension for loose, worn or damaged components often caused by potholes and other road irregularities.
The air conditioner, so you can avoid the wait if you need to have it repaired during the summer.
By Marshall Loeb