Spring car maintenance—DIY tips for college students

Proper care for your car ensures solid long term reliability.

Proper care for your car ensures solid long term reliability.

It’s been a long, cold winter— what the heck is an artic vortex anyway?— and while you might think you bore the brunt of it trudging uphill, both ways, in snow to class, your wheels probably took some abuse as well. Doing a little spring car maintenance as things begin to thaw out is probably a good idea. But you are a college student, and probably on a budget, so you need some DIY tips to keep your sweet ride rolling, without breaking the bank.

A maintenance checklist

First things first, you need to know what you should be taking care of in terms of spring car maintenance. CBS Detroit created a compilation of suggestions in “10 Tips For Spring Vehicle Maintenance,” posted April 14, 2012, to help:

  1. Brakes—You can prevent problems by replacing brake pads or shoes before the drums or rotors incur damage.
  2. Tires—Keep an eye on your air pressure for the best mileage, and inspect the tread and sidewall for uneven wear.
  3. Wiper Blades—Those upcoming spring showers are going to need some working wipers, so your driving vision isn’t compromised.
  4. Lights and Turn Signals—Another safety necessity is working headlights and turn signals, so make sure they are functioning properly.
  5. Air Filter—Making sure you replace your air filter when it gets dirty helps your car’s engine perform better.
  6. Oil—Without oil, your engine just won’t work; so especially for the upcoming hot summer months, check your oil often to ensure you have enough.
  7. All Fluids—The article states, “Dirty fluids and low fluids may affect the performance of a vehicle and can lead to breakdowns if not properly monitored and filled.”
  8. Belts, Hoses and Fuel Filters—See what the recommended intervals are for your car to change the belts, hoses and filters, to ensure your car doesn’t break down or suffer engine damage.
  9. Battery—Look over the battery for any corrosion on the terminals or a bulging or cracked case.
  10. Shocks and Struts—Potholes may have worked their magic on your suspension over the winter months, so if you want a smooth ride, check the shocks and struts.

Car maintenance help

An important DIY tip for college students when it comes to car maintenance any time of year? Know when to seek out an expert! “AAA’s Car Care Lessons for the College Bound” by Heather Hunter, posted July 17, 2013 for AAA.com advises college students to find a college repair facility near campus for when you need an expert under the hood. It is better to spend a little on help with the checklist above, rather than ignore regular maintenance and cause bigger and more expensive problems.

Spring cleaning your car

While keeping your car running is probably your main concern, you also don’t want your car to look too run down after a winter of salted roads and snowy grime. Start by cleaning out the inside. Tidy any odds and ends floating about. Things left lying around loose can become dangerous projectiles in a crash. Next spruce the interior up with a quick dusting, maybe some vacuuming and even a spritz or two of glass cleaner on the windows.

In “Spring cleaning your car: DIY maintenance tips for the new season,” posted March 20, 2012, Consumer Reports recommended some DIY tips for college students when it comes to cleaning the exterior of your car:

  • Use car wash soap, not dish detergent.
  • Wash with a clean, natural sponge or a lamb’s-wool mitt.
  • Don’t wash or wax in direct sunlight.
  • Start from the top of the car and work down.
  • Replace your water when it becomes dirty.
  • Use a different sponge for your tires and wheels.
  • Don’t let the car air dry, but wipe it down with a clean, soft cloth.

With a little spring car maintenance, courtesy of these DIY tips for college students, your car will continue running well and looking good throughout your college career.

How do you keep your ride rolling after the onslaught of winter? What are your best tips for keeping your car working year-round? Let us know in the comments below.

8 replies
  1. Nicole Stanley says:

    Nice post with lot of informative things to consider.By examining the fluids, we can determine the amount of wear and tear by how quickly the fluid is draining. If you find that the transmission fluid is draining faster than normal, we will know to either check for a leak in the engine or need to have vehicle serviced right away. This car care tip will avoid potential future damage and save you a lot of money in the long run.

  2. Thomas Robson says:

    Good list. One of the main issues to note however is that your car will at one point or another need a service from a mechanic. It won’t be possible to look after your car forever by yourself so be realistic if you want to improve its life span

  3. Mike Loshe says:

    Great list. Also make sure you replace your windshield wiper blades after a long winter. For some reason or another they don’t seem to hold up very well through harsh winters, so it is important to replace them once spring rolls around. Nothing is worse then driving in that spring rain with less then ideal blades!

  4. John Caroll says:

    This is an excellent, very informative article. It is important to maintain your car to make sure that your car has a long and good life. It involves regular vehicle maintenance’s and repairs by experts as well as check ups. It is also good if you have a quick look through the car if you are going to take the car to a long trip. A checklist like the one in this article can be very useful.

  5. Julio says:

    Most of the people are always in tensed for their car repair but you solved their problem by providing most valuable information through this article.


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