Many drivers prefer to drive only during the warm season, and in winter keep the car in the parking lot or garage. During this period, the mothballed car is not serviced and its condition is not monitored. Therefore those who are going to drive in spring should seriously concern themselves with the preparation for the first drive.
It is better to begin any work with your car with full diagnostics. Covered parking or garage is not a guarantee of ideal conditions. It is possible that the room may be damp because of poor ventilation or constant puddles from melting snow from the wheels of other cars.
Prolonged stay of the car in warm and damp closed space may provoke serious problems with the car body. In such conditions, it will rot with double speed. The experts say, the cars which were idle during winter are usually more troublesome than the ones you were driving.
Therefore, it is better to check the car on an elevator. Carefully examine not only the body, but also rubber joints, tubes and hoses.
Body and Underbody
The body is the largest and most expensive part of the car. That is why it is important to inspect it for cracks, chips, and rust. It is better to eliminate the detected defects at once, without waiting for deterioration.
The same concerns the bottom. During exploitation it is exposed to increased loads, influence of substances from asphalt, bitumen, muddy puddles. After winter parking, the underbody should be checked, cleaned and, if necessary, the existing defects removed.
It is hardly necessary to convince anyone that the brakes should be in perfect condition. Even if the car has been parked all winter, they should still be checked. The brake system is not airtight, so it is vulnerable to external influences and weather factors.
High winter humidity causes rusting of the system components, condensation in the brake fluid. You have to check everything: rim, pads, calipers, pipes and hoses, parking system components, cylinder, etc.
Most often it suffers from high humidity and temperature changes when idle. A small spot of rust is enough for it to grow to enormous proportions during the winter months.
When getting your car ready for the summer season, it’s important to thoroughly check the undercarriage for corrosion. Especially vulnerable parts are the exhaust system, suspension and frame components. Destruction of metal integrity in these areas will lead to failure of important assemblies, increasing safety hazards.
You can check the car on the overpass, but it is better to make a complete diagnosis in the car service center.
If the car was winterized with the battery, and you did not turn it on, it will badly affect the condition. The most non-critical thing that can happen is that it will discharge. Much worse is if internal damage occurs. Depending on their severity, the battery will need to be repaired or replaced.
That’s why it’s important to make a diagnosis of the battery’s condition after winter downtime. If it is viable, don’t forget to not only charge it, but also check the starting power and cleanliness of the terminals.
Prolonged winter downtime and spring’s changeable weather are bad for fluids. Deterioration of properties negatively affects the operation of the car, so it is better to replace antifreeze, oil and other compounds. Especially if their color and consistency have changed. Before pouring fresh fluids, do not forget to flush the systems.
Humidity and temperature fluctuations (if the car was parked on the street) negatively affect the condition of wires, contacts and connectors. Therefore, they also need to be inspected carefully. Surely there will be places that need to be cleaned and lubricated with rust preventing agent.
You should choose pastes that both displace moisture and remove rust, while creating a protective layer on the surface.
If the car has wintered with an empty tank, then during the downtime condensation formed on the walls flowed down. In this case, rusting of the tank is possible.
If the fuel was left in the car, the fuel additives may have deteriorated during the parking period, thus changing the octane number. Using such fuel will lead to engine detonations, Trojans and other malfunctions. That is why after winter it is better to change it. Or add additives to restore the octane number and remove moisture from the fuel.
Air and cabin filters
The cleanliness of the engine and the cabin depends on the work of these elements. Filters prevent dust and dirt from entering and prevent mold from forming. And with prolonged idle time, the devices don’t work, so it all gets into the engine and interior.
After winter, it’s important to check and clean the filters. Otherwise, clogged filters will not work well. The load on the engine will increase, and the interior will look untidy.
Prolonged idle time, especially in an open parking lot, has a bad effect on the mechanisms. Moisture trapped inside causes components to rust. As a result, the locks may one day fail at the most inopportune moment. Therefore, it is necessary to check them before starting the car season. Depending on their condition, the locks should be cleaned and lubricated or replaced.
After a long downtime, wiper blades usually fail. Wipers can get blistered or cracked, no longer fit tightly to the glass. It is not safe to continue using them. Such wipers will not only scratch the windshield, but also badly clean it. And it already worsens visibility and thus increases the risk of an accident while driving.
When choosing wipers, make sure that they fit the size of the glass and the type of car.
Prolonged idle time negatively affects pipes, hoses, gaskets, seals and other components. After winter they should be checked for damages. Treat serviceable parts with silicone grease, and replace those which are bent or cracked. This is especially true for oil seals, drive belts and brake hoses.
It is also necessary to check an air conditioner before the beginning of active driving, because if it was not switched on for a long time, it may start malfunctioning. And it is a great pleasure to drive with badly working conditioner.
More often malfunctions are caused by refrigerant leakage. At the beginning it results to that conditioner will not keep the demanded temperature. And with a lapse of time it can break down at all. That is why it is very wisely to check your climate system at once, not waiting until the heat comes and long lines are lined up at service centers. Besides the timely preventive maintenance will prolong the life of air conditioner and will save money on its replacement.
But the most serious danger is to your health from the defective device. During the long idle time in the air ducts, the colonies of legionella – harmful bacteria – often form. Getting into the human body, they cause lung diseases, primarily – severe pneumonia. They are especially dangerous for children and the elderly.
That is why in no case you should not neglect to check air conditioner’s work. By the way, the same concerns the cabin filter. If it stopped working properly, do not delay with its repair or replacement.
Freshening up the interior after winter is a must. You can wash the interior yourself or have it professionally cleaned. The latter option is preferable, since special agents, which will treat the surfaces, are good at removing not only dirt, but also salt stains. At the same time, they do not harm coatings, electrics, plastic and decorative elements. Plus destroy pockets of mold, allergens and harmful bacteria.
The operation is not only important for giving an attractive appearance. First and foremost, washing is necessary to remove dirt and contaminants from hard-to-reach places.
With your own hands, even with the use of auto chemicals, it is almost impossible to do it. In order to qualitatively clean your car, you should lift it, fill the bottom with special foam and hold it this way for some time. The product shall get into all the hidden holes and details, where it shall dissolve dangerous compounds. After that you need to remove the foam with a strong stream under pressure.
The same should be done with the paintwork. Otherwise, the smallest particles trapped in the micro gaps will destroy the external coating. Therefore, if you want to wash your car, it is better to apply in a car service.
Experts advise to make a 3 phase car wash. At the first stage the contactless car wash removes the coarse particles of dirt. Then a special chemical is used to remove the plaque of bitumen and salts. The last step is a manual car wash with a sponge and shampoo.
In conclusion, the car is dried and protected by means of paintwork protection products: waxes, liquid coating, etc. And, of course, it does not hurt to be treated with rust preventatives.
Before you hit the road, you should make sure that your tires are in good condition. They should be inspected for damage, hernias and other defects. Then you should check the pressure, inflation, and camber angles of the wheels.