Spring Cleaning Your Car: Checklist for Vehicle Maintenance and Auto Insurance

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A comprehensive spring cleaning of your vehicle after the cold winter months can both add shine back to its appearance and serve as preventative maintenance that can extend the life of your vehicle and prevent mechanical breakdowns. From tackling the hidden nooks crammed with debris and salt accumulation that could lead to rust, to purifying the interior air from allergens, we've outlined essential steps for spring cleaning your car.

Key Takeaways

  • Spring cleaning your car can involve removing salt and grime that accumulates during the winter that can otherwise cause rust and corrosion.
  • Cleaning the interior of your car can eliminate odor-causing allergens and bacteria, while cleaning your windows and mirrors can improve visibility while driving.
  • Regular maintenance activities such as changing the cabin air filter, checking and rotating tires and inspecting under the hood can also improve your car’s fuel economy, performance and driving experience.

What Are the Benefits of Cleaning Your Car in Spring?

Cleaning your car in spring removes the accumulation of winter grime, salt and debris, which, if left untreated, can lead to rust and corrosion, particularly on the undercarriage and brakes. This not only preserves the vehicle's appearance but also its structural integrity and resale value. Cleaning the interior can also eliminate allergens and bacteria, creating a healthier environment and improving air quality inside the car.

Additionally, clear windows and mirrors enhance driving safety by improving visibility. Finally, a clean and well-maintained car operates more efficiently, potentially leading to better fuel economy.

spring cleaning for your car

What Things Should I Do To Clean My Car for Spring?

From clearing the clutter from the inside of your car to making it shine nice and bright both on the exterior and under the hood, we’ve provided a simple checklist for those looking to spring clean their cars after the winter months.

1. Brush & Vacuum Your Interiors

Deep clean your car's interior surfaces with a gentle brush to remove dust and dirt from vents, buttons and seat crevices. Vacuum thoroughly to eliminate dirt from these areas as well. Discard all trash, such as empty containers and organize personal items like gum, sunglasses and other things you keep in your car in designated storage areas.

If there are articles of loose clothing, bring them in and send them through the washer. You can enhance cleanliness with an air freshener for a pleasant aroma. For carpets and floor mats affected by winter grime, use a stiff brush to loosen dirt before vacuuming, ensuring a clean and fresh appearance.

2. Deep Clean Your Seats

Dirt and grime can accumulate in your car’s seats over time and deep cleaning with the right solution and a wet vacuum can help remove them. Just be careful with the type of shampoo you use, as fabric seats will need to be treated differently from leather seats. You may want to spot test in an inconspicuous location before committing to shampooing all your seats to avoid potential discoloration of your upholstery. In addition, for leather seats, consider using leather conditioner to revitalize them.

3. Hand Wash the Exterior

Waxing and a gentle hand wash with a carwash solution will help maintain your car's paint and finish. Avoid household soaps, as they can strip the natural oils. Use a rubber squeegee and hand dry your car after washing to eliminate water spots and prevent mineral or dirt residue to avoid corrosion or rust. While not the biggest deal, it does look a little shabby and can potentially damage the finish.[1]

4. Check & Rotate Your Tires

After checking your car's tires, replace winter tires with all-season ones if needed. Clean the hubcaps with a soapy sponge to remove grime. Ensure tire pressure is inflated to 30 to 35 PSI or whatever is specified in your car owner’s manual.[2]

For cleaning, opt for non-acidic products and use a stiff brush for tough grime, using a toothbrush for hard-to-reach areas. This approach ensures thorough cleanliness without chemical damage, keeping your tires in excellent condition.

If you don’t have the time or money to change your tires to a more season-appropriate type, consider rotating your tires if you haven't done this recently to ensure even wear and to maintain consistent traction while driving.

5. Change Your Cabin Air Filter (If Needed)

For those with pollen allergies, regularly replacing your car's cabin air filter — typically every 15,000 to 30,000 miles — is crucial to prevent pollen recirculation and aggravating allergies.[3] A clean filter can also protect your car's heating and cooling systems from potential damage due to clogs.

This is also a good time to check your air conditioner since you've likely not used it during the winter. Before the weather heats up for summer, take a moment to make sure it's still operating normally. If you notice that your air conditioner isn't as strong, there's an odor when you run it or more dust in your car than usual, then you may need to replace your air filter even earlier.

6. Check Under the Hood

For spring car maintenance, inspect under the hood for leaves or debris and clean as needed, especially if you park outdoors. Don't forget to refill your windshield wiper fluid to avoid being caught empty. You’ll also want to check your oil level and cleanliness with a rag and dipstick; if it's low or resembles sludge, schedule an oil change. This goes for gas-powered, hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs).

7. Check Your Windshield Wiper Blades and Clean Windows

Wipe your windows down with an ammonia-free glass cleaner and microfiber cloth to give it a streak-free cleaning and shine. Don’t forget to roll down the windows so you can clean the top edge. Also, check the windshield wipers for dirt or grime and clean them to avoid smudging or streaking. Test them post-cleaning to ensure proper function. Replace the wipers as needed to maintain effectiveness.

8. Review Your Car Insurance

When reviewing your car insurance, assess coverage adequacy, considering life changes like moving, getting married or vehicle updates that may affect your insurance needs. For example, if you installed aftermarket parts on your vehicle, you may want to look into buying modified car insurance since your insurance carrier might not cover those modifications.

Make sure the deductibles and premiums aren’t too much of a strain on your finances and explore eligibility for new discounts, such as for safe driving. Comparing quotes from various insurers ensures you secure the best value, prioritizing comprehensive coverage over merely the lowest price. Transitioning insurers should be timed to avoid coverage lapses, with a focus on optimizing both cost and protection levels.

9. Keep Your Driving Record Clean

Having a clean driving record helps maintain a low car insurance rate. Not to say that your coverage can't rise for other reasons, but driving more defensively is something within your control.

A clear accident and moving violations history can sometimes secure a cheaper rate than any savings from a discount.

Take a defensive driving course, don't drive during rush hour, and keep your automobile use to a minimum if possible.

Is Spring a Good Time to Shop for Car Insurance?

Springtime is just as good as any time of year to look for auto insurance since time of year is not used as a factor when calculating rates so much as location, type of vehicle, your driving history, etc., so it's really up to you. Instead of focusing on a specific time, you should instead keep in mind life events, such as moving, getting married or if your current auto plan is coming up for renewal.

If your plan is coming up for renewal, there is nothing that says you have to stick with your current provider, so take a few minutes and let SmartFinancial help gather quotes for you so you can save some money.

Save on Car Insurance in the Springtime


Can regular car maintenance lower the cost of insurance?

Regular car maintenance can indirectly lower the cost of car insurance by preventing accidents and reducing claims, which in turn can lead to lower premiums over time due to a better driving record. Furthermore, some insurers offer discounts for vehicles equipped with advanced safety features and systems that are kept in optimal condition through regular maintenance.

Is spring a good time to shop for car insurance?

Springtime is a perfectly fine time to shop but don't expect spring savings on car insurance. Car insurance companies will use other factors like your driving history, age, where you live when calculating your rates as opposed to the time of year.

Is there a benefit to car maintenance in spring?

Spring is an ideal time to do some maintenance work on your vehicle since winter may have been rough on your car.


  1. CleanTools. “How to Properly Dry a Car After Washing.” Accessed Feb. 1, 2024. 
  2. Discount Tire. “Correct Air Pressure.” Accessed Feb. 1, 2024.
  3. Lindsay Volkswagen of Dulles. “How Often Should You Replace Your Cabin Air Filter?” Accessed Feb. 1, 2024.

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