With spring officially less than two months away, everybody’s already excited to swap their thick wool coats for lighter cotton shirts. But the end of winter also means preparing your pickup truck for warmer weather. Freezing conditions put your truck under a lot of stress, while the sudden change in temperature may hide problems that have literally frozen over the previous months. And once the thaw comes around, these problems may rear its ugly head and lead to expensive repair and replacement costs throughout the year.
Taking your pickup truck to a mechanic for a tune-up remains the best way to prepare it for the upcoming season, but there are a lot of things that you can do on your end as well. We’ve compiled five of the most important of these and listed them down below.
- Make sure all of your engine’s fluids are full.
As the thermostat rises, you need to make sure your truck is well-lubricated and cooled to adapt to the sudden changes in temperature. Check fluid levels using the dipstick and fill line on the tank and refill them as necessary. If the reservoir appears contaminated with dirt, water, or other particles and chemicals, flush it out and replace with a new batch.
- Keep an eye out for leaks.
Leaks often pop up along the radiator hoses during the spring thaw as rising temperatures cause the rubber and metal to expand and frozen liquids to melt. Take a flashlight and inspect hoses and pipes in the engine bay for signs of cracks, particularly on the bends, joints, and areas where they clip on the stubs. Also, look underneath the vehicle and check for tell-tale puddles of oil or coolant that may indicate a leak above it.
- Check for worn timing belts.
The engine’s timing and accessory belts and chains can also take a beating during the winter. Check the belts for signs of cracks and pull them with your fingers to check for excessive play. If the belt appears too loose, have them checked by a mechanic and have them replaced or adjusted as necessary.
- Wash off the road salt.
While road salt can greatly improve the wheels’ traction on slick, snow-covered roads, they are also extremely corrosive. So once the salt deposits start to form on the tires, wheel well, and fenders, take your truck to a high-pressure car wash to have these deposits removed. After the truck has been washed and rinsed, apply a coat of wax on the exterior panels for added protection against road salt.
- Test the battery.
Winter can also be harsh on car batteries. Aside from the extra energy drain from the heating element, the cold temperature can also impact the battery’s effectiveness in storing energy. So before spring rolls around, have the battery inspected at the shop (this service is typically free of charge). If you suspect that the battery isn’t charging properly or the engine takes longer than usual to start, check the date the battery was installed. Take note that it is more than four years old, it needs to be replaced.