Get Your Car Ready for Spring
Canadian winters can be long and harsh. Ice, snow, and salt take a toll on your vehicle’s appearance and its engine. With spring just around the corner, many car owners are eager to get out on the road and enjoy the warm sunshine. Before heading out, make sure your car is ready to take you where you want to go. Giving it proper care and attention now will help avoid larger repairs down the road and keep your vehicle running smoothly for years to come.
Here is a regular spring vehicle maintenance checklist to keep in mind:
- Fluids: Monitor your car’s fluids. This includes power steering, transmission, suspension, windshield washer, and brake fluids, as well as coolant and oil levels. Some fluids can become contaminated and break down over time. Consult your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations on when to replace or flush fluids; a mechanic will tell you if the levels need to be topped off.If the brake, coolant, or power steering fluids are low, it could indicate a leak, so inspect the entire system. This kind of routine preventative maintenance will save you money over the lifetime of your vehicle.
- Brakes: Even if you’ve checked the brake fluid levels, look at the entire braking system as well. Salt and corrosion can build up and break down the lubricants that brakes need to work effectively. Brakes are vital to safe driving; have them thoroughly inspected and replaced if necessary.
- Tires: Change out those winter tires for all-season tires. Before putting them away for another season, however, inspect them for cracks and tread depth. Have your all-season tires rotated to prevent uneven wear and make sure they are installed with the proper tire pressure. Alignment and Suspension: Dodging potholes and plowing through snow drifts all winter can take its toll on wheel alignment and suspension. Have your mechanic look at the wheel alignment, balance, and suspension to ensure a smooth spring ride.
- Battery: Cold weather and freezing temperatures can be tough on your car’s battery, and spring is a good time to have it tested. Make sure the connections are free from corrosion and tightly secured, and that the battery itself is securely mounted.
- Windshield: That chip in the windshield that started off small last fall has grown through the winter to a full-size crack. Moisture and dirt can get into marks in the glass and expand with the freezing temperatures, causing them to spread. Chips and cracks in your windshield can affect the safety and stability of your entire vehicle; have them fixed or repaired right away.
- Filters: Filters are important for good airflow and the overall air quality in your vehicle. Leaves and other debris can get into the blowers and cause blockages and unpleasant odours to circulate through the cabin. Check your engine and cabin air filters and replace them if necessary.
- Belts: As part of regular maintenance, examine your car’s belts for any damage that may have occurred during the winter. Look for looseness or fraying and replace them if needed.
- Hoses: Winter temperatures can affect rubber hoses. Cracks or holes are a sure sign that new hoses are needed.
- Oil Change: Oil becomes less effective over time and can cause excess wear on your engine if it’s not changed regularly. Regular oil changes prevent the engine from overheating, clean out impurities, and help to keep your vehicle performing at its best.
- When to Change Your Oil: In the past, car owners have relied on the “every 5,000 km or 3 months” rule for oil changes. However, advances in automotive technology and manufacturing have made that idea obsolete. Instead, change the oil based on the recommendations in your owner’s manual. Many newer vehicles have service reminder alerts that monitor the distance the car has traveled as well as how it is being driven. These alerts tell the driver when an oil change is needed; change the oil soon after you see an alert.
- Kinds of Motor Oil: Historically, cars needed specific kinds of oil for winter and summer driving; the oils had various viscosities and would behave differently depending on the temperature. (Motor oil thins as it heats and thickens as it cools.)
- Conventional Motor Oil is made from crude oil and is the least expensive. It provides lubrication at high temperatures and is stable over long periods of time.
- Full Synthetic Oil is designed to be more effective than conventional oil at resisting breakdown, reducing sludge, and withstanding high temperatures. It’s also the most expensive type of motor oil and should only be used if the vehicle manufacturer recommends it. Synthetic oil helps the engine run better and last longer, regardless of outside temperatures (or if the vehicle is used for big jobs like towing or hauling).
- Blended Synthetic Oil is cheaper than full synthetic oil but offers higher performance than conventional oil. It is more effective at engine lubrication and preventing engine wear and tear.
Other Spring Vehicle Maintenance
- Lighting: Bulb replacement is a relatively simple fix, but also a very important one. Brake lights and blinkers allow you to communicate with other drivers and keep your vehicle visible. Check all exterior and interior lighting; look for any burned out bulbs and replace them immediately.
- Wipers: Windshield wipers bear the brunt of snow and ice, so remember to inspect them regularly for tears or cracks. Even with careful scraping, those little rubber blades can freeze and experience a lot of wear and tear in the winter. If necessary, purchase new wiper blades that will effectively wipe away the coming spring showers and keep your visibility clear.
- Unexpected Squeaks and Rattles: It’s been a long winter and your car has carried you through blizzards and over snow and ice. With all that travel, it may also mean new squeaks and rattles. Talk to your expert auto mechanic if you hear any unexpected sounds; they may be an indication of a larger problem.
- Uninvited Pests: Mice and other vermin look for a cozy place to call home during the winter months. They often like the warmth of recently parked cars and will sometimes chew through wiring to build their nests, which can cause electrical issues. Look under the hood and in dark corners for any signs of unwanted pests.
For help with spring car maintenance, consult an expert auto service provider. If you are looking for hassle-free fluid and oil change in Toronto, download The Oil Change App. We will connect you with the best local automotive service providers and bring them right to your door.