Winter can do a number on your car.
Slush, salt and cold temperatures take a toll on everything from the tires to the wiper blades. So, as spring approaches, it's a good idea to give your car a thorough once-over to undo winter's damage.
It won't cost a lot. You can the work yourself or visit a car wash and a garage. Goodyear, Firestone, Canadian Tire and other car care centres will rotate your tires, change your oil and fluids and inspect your vehicle for winter damage for $70 or less.
Here are five things you can do to shake off winter and get your car in shape for spring:
Wash the underbody
Wintertime driving will coat the bottom of your car with salt, sand and other grime that can cause corrosion. Corrosion can lead to rust problems, which can make your car much harder to resell or even dangerous to drive.
Spend a few extra dollars for the undercarriage power wash at the local car wash or spray the car's bottom with your own hose. If possible, use a car jack to raise the vehicle for a more thorough cleaning. There's no need to use soap or any other cleaner.
While you're at it, open the hood and wipe down the engine with a soft mitt and soapy water. And remove all the leaves and debris that can find their way into the car, and remove any crusty white residue off the battery with a toothbrush, baking soda and water. The residue -- caused by corrosion -- can eventually prevent your car from starting. The cleaning also helps prepare the battery for the stress of warmer temperatures.
Scrub inside and out
Salt and sand can damage the car's paint. Give your car a thorough cleaning and wax it with a paste or liquid wax,
Scrub the bottoms of doors, which can get coated with grime, clean the window channels, Also apply a silicone spray, which repels dirt and lubricates the surfaces so the windows will operate smoothly.
Use a steam cleaner or apply a rug-cleaning spray to remove all the salt from the car's inside. Salt can break down some fabrics and cause rips or tears when feet grind against them.
And don't forget to take bags of salt and ice scrapers out of the trunk.
Replace wiper blades
Wiper blades get a workout during the winter months. Changing them each spring and fall will insure a streak free windshield.
Check tires / Switch Off Your Winter tires
Some garages recommend a wheel alignment or a tire rotation as part of your spring maintenance. it's not necessary as long as you're following the car's regular maintenance schedule and doing normal winter driving.
Check your tire pressure. Cold weather can cause tires to be underinflated and the onset of warm weather can overinflate them. Also, visually inspect your tires to make sure they're wearing evenly and have plenty of tread for the rainy spring weather ahead.
Driving on properly inflated tires can save you money. It can cost anywhere from $50 to $250 to replace a blown tire, depending on the kind of tire you need.
Check your fluids
Winter weather can deplete some fluids -- especially windshield wiper fluid -- more quickly, so top them off yourself if they're too low. A service station will also do the job for $25 or so. You should change your oil, brake fluid and transmission fluid every 5,000 miles or so, regardless of the season.