Green, Clean Machines: Tips for Keeping Your Car in Tip-Top Shape This Spring

It’s not unusual to see a layer of dust collecting on the dashboard after driving around all winter with the windows up. Just opening the windows can help blow some of that dust away—but also into your face. Meanwhile, spring’s pollen will often come crowding in to replace and add to the dust, filling the air vents and coating all the surfaces in the car. Check out the following spring cleaning tips to address these concerns and others.

Purge the Allergens

Constant sneezing and watery eyes don’t mix well with driving. Thoroughly vacuuming between and underneath the seats goes a long way in removing allergens like dust and pollen from the automobile’s environment. To keep remaining airborne dust and pollen from resettling on the dash and upholstery, one trick is to wipe everything down with dryer sheets. Finally, a good power wash can help remove salt, dirt, and debris from the floor mats, but do check for any mold and replace the mats if necessary.

Keep Your Car Pet-friendly

Along with the joys of listening to the sound of the wind whipping against a dog’s nose and jowls comes the chore of cleaning up the related messes. To cut down on frustration, make sure to use a high-suction vacuum for pet hair. Self-service car washes typically have a pretty powerful vacuum system that you can pay to use. Otherwise, a shop vac or a pet-rated consumer vacuum cleaner will usually do the trick.

While it can be fun to joke about the dog’s nose prints on all the windows as being Fido’s ‘artwork,’ cleaning them up is a matter of visibility. Cutting through that drooly sludge is just as important as leaving the surface safe for future nose drawings to occur. A lot of pet owners prefer to use a homemade mixture of distilled vinegar and water or baking soda, warm water, and salt to scrub away these masterpieces. However, make sure that you don’t drip any of the solution onto the car’s upholstery without wiping it up—the salt or vinegar can dry out vinyl, and the baking soda may cake up in any fabrics.

Change Your Oil, Change Your Life

Well, okay—it’s not quite that dramatic. But it is important to remember to keep up with oil changes, which should usually happen at least once per season. Driving with old, dirty oil can take the ‘green’ right out of your springtime by decreasing your car’s fuel economy. Specifically, impurities that build up in the oil increase its viscosity, or thickness, making it less efficient at doing its job of lubricating your engine.

Retire the Winter Tires

Once the last of the snow and ice has melted, there’s no longer any need for the bulkier, more pliable tread found on winter tires. While these tires can make driving safer and easier in freezing temperatures, the same features will make them less responsive in warm, sunny weather. Even if you live in a warm climate year round or use all-season tires, you still might take the changing season as your cue to re-evaluate your tires’ condition.

Whether or not you have allergies, pets, or snow to contend with, doing spring cleaning for your car can be therapeutic anyway. You may even dig up some old memories between the seats. You’ll definitely be ready to make lots of new ones, though—without having second thoughts about inviting new friends into a cluttered, messy car.