Steve Malespini is seen inside his shop, Gateway Automotive, in Gorham. (RITA DUBE PHOTO)


GORHAM — Many drivers put their vehicle’s maintenance on auto pilot, following decades-old habits or waiting for a “ding” from the vehicle’s onboard computer to let them know when it needs work.

Now that you have survived another winter, Gateway Automotive in Gorham suggests you take the time to do some post-winter clean up on your vehicle as well.

Gateway Automotive has been in business since 1983 and specializes in imported vehicles with a strong emphasis on European brands. 

Steve Malespini, along with Gary Bagley, have over 70 years of experience with Volvo’s, Honda and Volkswagen automobiles.

Your car takes everything winter hands it — torrential downpours, freezing rain and even mountains of snow. So, it makes sense to get it ready for warmer weather.

The American Automobile Association offers advice on what to change along with the seasons. There are items you can take care of yourself and others you’ll want a good mechanic’s help with.

• Start with your tires, even if you drive on “all season” tires. Heavy, consistent snow and ice require snow tires, which absolutely should be replaced with the non-snow variety. Snow tires are more expensive than standard tires and are designed with special tread for added traction in icy and snow-packed conditions. Heavily treaded tires wear out faster and should be saved for next winter.

If you drive on all-season radials, this is the time to rotate them. The drive wheels will wear more quickly, especially under winter driving conditions. By rotating them seasonally, you extend the life of the set.

• Windshield wiper blades also take a beating during winter weather. Cold temperatures are hard on rubber compounds, and they are assailed with slush kicked up by traffic. This slush often carries with it corrosive salt used to melt road ice, which can do a number on your blades. Early spring is a good time to check and replace them if necessary.

• Check your windshield fluid as well since there’s a good chance winter’s dirt has exhausted the reservoir.

Wash your car. Washing your car is much more than cosmetic. Start by cleaning your vehicle’s underbody. There’s no magic solution to getting rid of the corrosive salt build-up but the best tool is a high-pressure sprayer. Pay special attention to the area around the front and rear bumpers.

Once you’ve thoroughly sprayed the underbody, check for signs of rust and take the necessary steps to stop any small rust spots from eating away at your vehicle. We’ve all seen those pillars of snow that form around bumpers and wheel wells. That’s the most likely place for road salt to begin the erosion process.

While you’re at it, you might as well wash the whole car. Winter is not conducive to leisurely afternoons spent hosing off your vehicle and chances are it’s been a while.

• Examine your brakes. Like wipers, brakes take on a bigger role during wintertime and should be checked to ensure that they’ve survived.

Listen for brake noises such as grinding, chatter or squeals. Even if your brakes aren’t making any distinctive noises, it’s still a good idea for you or your mechanic to determine the amount of wear on the pads or drums. We often become accustomed to the feel of worn brakes, without realizing that what we’re used to is a deteriorated ability to stop.

• heck all automotive fluids and top off as necessary. Winter driving conditions require your engine to work harder and deplete fluid levels faster.

Some heavy winter drivers change their oil, opting for a thinner weight. Once you feel certain you’ve seen the last of consistently low temperatures, change back to an oil weight such as 10W/30 (or whateveris recommended in the owner’s manual), formulated for warmer temperatures.

• o over the interior of your vehicle. This includes taking out and washing floor liners. Vacuum and clean the carpets, and make sure they are dry before you put the liners back in.

While washing and cleaning your car and checking fluids are something you can probably do for yourself, for the bigger tasks — or if you know you can do it but don’t have the equipment or just don’t want to get your hands dirty — it’s worthwhile to find a mechanic to help you. And a trained eye can often spot little problems and fix them before they become big and expensive.

Steve says:  “We  provide exceptional service and strive for perfection.” 

Gateway gives personalized service and prefers using original equipment and parts. All vehicles are thoroughly road tested after repairs are complete.

When you take your car to Gateway, you are dealing directly with the technicians and they will determine exactly what is wrong with your vehicle.  

If you’re in the market for a used vehicle Steve  attends auctions on a weekly basis and can fill specific orders.

Most of his vehicles are off-lease vehicles with balance of factory warranties.

Gateway Automotive is located at 163 Lancaster Road in Gorham. Call (603) 466-2242 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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