Let's face it. It's been a loooong winter. And some parts of the country are still right in the middle of the yucky weather. For others, Spring has sprung and its time to start fresh and clean out your vehicle - which is probably three dirty shades of grey after driving through the snow, slush and salt over the winter months. In fact, your car or truck could be corroding in some secret places, and reversing the effects may not be as easy as a simple car wash.
“In addition to the build-up on the body of the vehicle, damage can occur to the undercarriage as well,” said Jack Wilson, field business manager, Tennessee Approved Auto Repair. “Proper cleaning can help combat corrosion to vital parts such as brake lines and fuel tanks, and time could be a factor.”
The Federal Highway Administration estimates the overall direct cost of maintenance and repairs made necessary by corrosion is $6.45 billion—including corrosion due to salt and brine.
What to clean:
- The Body: A touch-less car wash is best to avoid scratching the top coat of paint with any salt remaining after the initial rinse. Before heading to the car wash, wait until the temperature is above 40 degrees to avoid freezing of doors and locks.
- The Undercarriage: Salt and brine can coat metal and rubber components leading to rust, cracking and expensive repairs. Take advantage of automated car washes that offer undercarriage wash/rinse – this option may just keep you from replacing your muffler down the road. To protect those rear wheel wells on your truck, try some plastic Wheel Well Guards that make cleaning even easier.
- The Accessories: Pay special attention to the rubber exterior parts like wiper blades and mud flaps to make sure they are not bent, cracked or torn. It’s also a good idea to check cameras and sensors to ensure they are functioning properly.
- The Interior: Vacuum carpets as normal and use a general cleaner for any soiled plastic parts. If you haven't already, now is the time to purchase some custom-molded floor liners that will continue to protect that freshly cleaned carpet into the muddy Spring months. If you want to stay organized, now is also the time to invest in an underseat storage system for the back seat of your truck or SUV.
- The Stuff you don’t see: Many drivers can perform the maintenance above, but it could be a good idea to have a trained mechanic check rubber and metal parts under the vehicle. For a full listing of AAA Approved Auto Repair Shops, visit www.AAA.com/AAR