Spring is a good time to give your car some extra attention

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It will not only head off trouble, it could protect your investment

Spring is here, refineries are switching over to summer-grade fuel blends, and the summer driving season will soon be upon us.

If you own a car, now might be a good time to think about its maintenance. Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council, representing auto shops, says today's cars are of higher quality than they once were, but they still require maintenance.

And considering what a new or late-model used car costs these days, that neglect could be expensive.

"By following a proactive auto care plan, the typical car should deliver at least 200,000 miles of safe, dependable, efficient and enjoyable performance," White said.

That's a lot more miles than a typical car could be expected to run just two decades ago, but it will require, not just regular oil changes but periodic service of vital systems too. Assuming you're between regular oil changes, here are the things that need attention before the start of summer driving.

Things to check

  • Check fluid levels, such as oil, power steering, brake, and transmission. Don't overlook windshield cleaner and coolant.
  • Have you brakes checked. It's a good idea to inspect brake linings, rotors and drums every time you change the oil.
  • Check tire pressure and tread, looking for uneven wear. Keep an eye out for bulges and bald spots.
  • Inspect hoses and belts. This is especially important for older models. Look for cracks and signs of excessive wear.
  • Check the heating and air conditioning systems to make sure they are working properly.
  • Check wipers for signs of wear.
  • Make sure headlights and tail lights are working properly

On its website, Advance Auto Parts also recommends a battery check as part of your spring auto maintenance checklist. While winter can be tough on car batteries, summer can be even tougher.

Depending on where you live, your car's exterior and undercarriage pay be coated with a salty grime. Washing it down with a cleaner formulated for vehicles may keep the finish looking new.

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