After a brutal winter, spring is finally here. As you’re doing spring cleaning and maintenance, don’t forget your car!

HFC automotive instructor Ashley Smith has offered some tips for how to get the most out of your car for the long haul.

Wash and wax: Once winter is over, thoroughly wash and wax your car. Driving in the winter causes a huge amount of dirt, debris, and, worst of all, salt to build up on your car. Dirt and debris can affect your car’s finish, and salt can lead to rust and other serious problems.

Clean the interior: Spring is the best time to thoroughly clean your car’s interior. In addition to throwing out trash and other unwanted items accumulated during the winter, vacuum your seats and carpets. If you’re really feeling ambitious, shampoo the carpets for great results.

Check tire pressure: Check tire pressure to ensure that your tires are properly inflated to achieve best fuel economy. Cooler winter temperatures reduce tire pressure; warmer temperatures increase it. Low or high tire pressure could affect your car’s drivability.

Check under the hood: Thoroughly check under your hood to make sure your car’s engine made it through the winter without problems. Test the battery; cold temperatures can put a lot of strain on it. Check belts and hoses to see if they are brittle or need to be replaced. Make sure your coolant is fresh, so your engine won’t overheat as temperatures get warmer. Get an oil change if it’s been a while. If your engine is excessively dirty, wipe it down with a damp cloth. Avoid soaking it with a hose, as some electronics might not function properly while wet.

Inspect/replace wiper blades: Wiper blades get damaged or dulled by snow and ice, leading to poor visibility in rainy spring conditions. Replenish washer fluid, since you probably used it a lot during the winter.

Check alignment and suspension: Potholes have plagued Michigan for decades and can ruin your car’s alignment or damage your suspension. Do a quick alignment and suspension check to make sure everything is on track.

“People tend to overlook their cars as the weather warms up,” said Smith. “Getting your car serviced makes it last longer. Some of these suggestions, such as washing your car and checking tire pressure and fluids, you can do on your own. If you’re not comfortable performing maintenance checks, take your car to a mechanic. Maintenance costs are better than having your car unexpectedly break down and having a higher repair bill.”

For more information on HFC’s automotive program, visit