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It’s that time of year when many of us will begin the task of spring-cleaning, and while the first consideration may be your closets or garage – the same process should apply to your vehicle. After a winter in which your car or truck may still be carrying the lingering effects of salt and sand, both can damage its finish and encourage corrosion if they remain unchecked.

A proper spring cleaning starts with the exterior of your vehicle’s body. A high-pressure wash or coin operated car wash are the best ways to properly blast and flush the salt and sand from your vehicle’s body, panel gaps, undercarriage, wheels, and wheel wells.

If you want to treat your car to the ultimate cleaning and protection, a complete spring detailing and vehicle service by your local new car dealer may be the recipe. Auto detailing takes cleaning to a new level, providing an intensive and thorough cleaning for every inch of your car, both inside and out.

If you would rather tend to your own vehicle, head to your favourite automotive department and pick up wash mitts, soft-material towels and proper car wash soap – which is important as dish washing liquid, as an example, can harm a car’s paint. In fact, products used for cleaning a vehicle should be specifically designed for automobiles. While household cleaners may do a great job of cutting grease in the kitchen, they often contain ingredients that can damage the paint finish on vehicles.

Spring is the also the right time to touch up any protective coatings you like to apply to your vehicle. A coat of wax after a good wash can bring shine back to your paint. It also protects your finish from the hot summer sun that will soon be on the way.

The next order of business is the interior, an area where you are likely dealing with smudged glass, salt stains, dust and various forms of grime. Make sure your floors are vacuumed and mats are hosed down with a pressure washer to remove the build-up and, if possible, use upholstery cleaners to clean your car seats and carpet.

Aside from your vehicle’s appearance, spring is also an opportune time to bring your car in for a quick inspection and general maintenance. Among other things, you may wish to change wiper blades if they have been worn out due to icy winter conditions, and most importantly make sure your favourite mechanic checks alignment, since wintery bumpy roads and potholes can throw alignment off and cause premature wear. Winter tire requirements on specified major routes throughout the province come to an end on April 30 so this is also a good time to schedule your vehicle’s post-winter vehicle check-up.

While often overlooked, don’t forget to clean your battery. Over the winter, build-up can accumulate and affect your battery life, so ensure the crud is cleaned away using a wire brush and appropriate cleaner. If you’re not sure how, ensure this is addressed during a regular maintenance. Likewise, ensure a flush and refilling of the cooling system takes place and check the condition and pressure of all your tires, including the spare.

And finally, the trunk tends to act as a general storage facility housing everything from hockey gear to shovels, along with any other winter items you may not use for the next several months. Clean it out and find another storage space. It will free up some room to store things you’ll need in the summer – and for at least the next several months, you can forget about winter.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at [email protected].