When snowflakes start to fall, Americans know the car care drill – winter tires, blizzard emergency kits and battery checkups are on every driver’s to-do list.
But when the snow melts away, and spring comes to the Great White North, it’s not enough to rely on last winter’s car prep.
Make sure your vehicle is road-ready after the winter thaw – follow these seven spring car maintenance tips to ensure your beloved ride is fit for the season.
1. Switch out those winter tires
When it comes to spring car maintenance, first thing’s first – switch out your winter tires for summer ones.
Surprisingly enough, many people don’t even bother removing their winter tires. While these are ideal for winter weather conditions, winter tires actually compromise traction on dry and wet roads. Wash your winter tires thoroughly, removing leftover salt stains, then make sure to store them in a cool and dry place.
If your car’s sporting all-season tires, it’s wise to check their pressure and tread – if you notice any uneven wear, you may need to get them aligned. If this past winter has been especially hard on your tires, it may be time to abandon them altogether in favour of new ones. Remember: safe tires mean safe driving – skimping on new tires now could put you in serious danger down the road.
2. Do some spring car cleaning
It goes without saying that a spring car care checklist isn’t complete without some serious spring cleaning.
Give your car a good post-winter-washing, both on the outside and inside.
Use a checklist to make sure you clean every nook and cranny – that means washing and waxing, clearing out that built-up clutter, and whipping out the handheld vacuum to pick up all those crumbs.
3. Take a look at your battery
After a harsh Canadian winter, it’s a good idea to make sure that your car battery is still running strongly. Car batteries are especially susceptible to cold weather – a harsh winter climate can lead to faster deterioration.
If your car battery is more than four years old, and it takes a few seconds to start up your motor, you should consider driving down to your local auto parts supplier to get your battery tested, and possibly replaced.
4. Check up on your brakes
Before setting off on any spring road trips, make sure your brakes are in good working order. Is your braking rough and noisy? Is the “brake check” light on your dashboard illuminated? If so, you probably need new brake pads. Take a look between the spokes of your wheels to figure out whether these need replacing or not – if they do, get a trusted mechanic to do an inspection.
5. Inspect your wiper blades and lighting
Snow, sludge and ice can take a toll on your wiper blades in wintertime – make sure they’re ready for April showers, and check for tears or cracks. If your wiper blades are worn out, or if they make that high-pitched squeaking noise as they streak across your windshield, it’s time to replace them with a fresh, new pair.
Note: measure your wiper blades before purchasing new ones – you don’t want to end up with new wipers that don’t fit properly.
Afterwards, check up on your vehicle’s interior and exterior lighting. A defective lighting situation, especially when it comes to headlights, can spell disaster on the road. Don’t leave those signals up for interpretation – make sure your lights are in good working order, both outside and inside your vehicle.
6. Change your oil and check your fluids
To make sure your car runs smoothly straight through springtime, get your oil and oil filter changed as per your owner manual’s recommendations. This is one of the best and easiest ways to keep your engine running properly – forgoing those all-important oil changes can lead to higher fuel consumption, poor engine performance, and can even result in severe engine damage.
Oil is not the only car fluid that needs your attention, however – power steering fluid, windshield washer solvent, and transmission and brake fluid should be changed as well. All of these fluids are cheap and easy to change, but forgoing these simple steps can lead to expensive repairs – not to mention compromised safety – in the future.
7. Revise your policy
After you’ve topped up your fluids, inspected your lighting, and switched out those winter tires, it’s wise to give your insurance policy a checkup as well.
Spring is the perfect time to take a look at your car insurance policy and make any necessary updates. There’s never a wrong time to do so, but this time of year is ideal for revising your policy to suit your needs.
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