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Your Re-opening Vehicle Checklist - Use This Time To Prepare Your Vehicle For Duty

All indications are that the economy will re-open soon. Now is your chance to put your vehicle in the best possible shape for duty. Here are our suggestions for DIY and professional "tune-ups."


The current crisis caught everyone off guard. We vehicle owners always have a running list of upcoming repairs and maintenance items to deal with for our much-needed rides. However, with the cars presently parked in the garage for many, that list may have become less important due to other priorities. With the economy about to re-open in stages across the country, now is the time to revisit that list and perhaps add a few items. For some, this might be a good opportunity to take care of some car issues before we are back to the grind.

We will start our list with a couple of do-it-yourself projects you can tackle, and then list a few items that a local mechanic could do to get your car ready for action.
Vehicle interior cleaning image by John GorehamDIY Vehicle Preparations
Late spring is the ideal time of the year to do a thorough cleaning and dressing of your vehicle's interior and exterior. Start inside. Remove everything from the interior and then also remove the floor mats. Driver's floor mats will usually have two clips near the seat bottom to unfasten. Vacuum that car out and look for any spills to deal with.

Scrub the interior with a proper cleaner. Griot's interior cleaner has worked well for us in the past. Use a non-ammonia glass cleaner if you don't have time to get that. We also suggest a non-ammonia glass cleaner for all glass surfaces. Clean all of them on the inside. You will be surprised how much cloudiness will disappear.

Next, use a leather cleaner and then conditioner to dress the leather seats in your car. If you don't have leather, but rather cloth, you can use a vehicle interior shampoo that comes in a can. Be aware it takes about 8 hours to dry.

Wash and wax your car if you have the energy. A coat of quality wax is always helpful, but be forewarned. If you have not waxed it before it is more work than you think. Keep the car out of the sun to make your work less difficult.
Cabin air filter image by John Goreham
One DIY project that is easy on most vehicles is changing the cabin filter and the engine air cleaner filter. Here is a full tutorial on how that is done. You can get the parts from Amazon.

Finally, if your headlights are cloudy, you can shine them up with under 2 hours of work and for less than $35 in materials. Our full overview on how to do this easy and important job is right here.

Related Story: Nissan Offers Professional Advice On How To Disinfect Your Car, Crossover, or Truck

Mechanic Jobs To Consider
Changing your own oil is a DIY project for some, but it involves a few steps we find a hassle. For under $60 most shops will change your oil and filter. If the car is only part-way through its oil change duration, why not get it done now so you can focus on work when things re-open? If you are taking the car in anyway, check your vehicle state inspection sticker. It may be coming due. Get it done now and have one less thing to worry about.
Timing belt image by John Goreham
Now is also a good time to check your records and see if your vehicle is due for a larger service. Perhaps the brake fluid, transmission fluid, and if you have an older vehicle, power steering fluid is due for changing. Or, if your car is near 100K, the timing belt, water pump, and spark plugs. How are your brakes? Getting this stuff out of the way while the economy is partially shut down may make sense.

If we have left out any good vehicle-preparation jobs, please feel free to suggest them in the comments below.

Note: Torque News received no compensation from any of the manufacturers or retailers mentioned in this story.

John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career to chase his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin.

Images by John Goreham. Use with permission only.


Karen barnes (not verified)    August 26, 2020 - 11:24PM

I have a 2001 Honda v6, used with 158,000 miles. New radiator, front and back breaks,pads,ega value replaced. Engine seals replaced
To prevent more oil leaking, Reservoir tank, 2 different batteries, new tires, now, check engine light back on. Sometimes TCS light goes on and off. Now radio has code error, click light off, front lights very dim, don’t like to drive it at night. Tonight I heard a sound like buzzing on the right side. Maybe a fan issue. I’m just tired, do I take it to someone else?