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Getting your car ready for Spring

Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 8:31 AM

Spring has sprung. If you thought winter was hard on you, it’s just as hard on your car. All that salt and dirt off the roads can damage your vehicle’s body, while frigid temperatures make your engine work overtime. Time to dust off your ride and get it ready for the new road trip season.

Wash & Wax 

Winter dirt can do a lot of damage to your car. Road sand is abrasive while salt can rot metal and damage electrical components. As soon as the weather turns nice, you’re probably itching to wash your car. Make sure to rise the underside and wheel wells, as that’s where a lot of the muck hides. A coat of wax will help bead off rain, and protect your car’s finish from whatever summer has to throw at it. 

Change the tires 

Once the risk of snow and freezing temperature subsides, you’ll want to get the snows off your car. Winter tires might grip the road better, but reduce fuel economy and performance on dry pavement. Summer tires work the best, but all-seasons provides a good middle ground from spring until fall.

Replace your wipers 

Winter ice and snow quickly wears out windshield wipers. Replace them after the season to ensure visibility in rain. You might also want to apply a water repellent to your windows for even better performance. 

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Check your fluids 

Every driver knows you have to change your oil, but when was the last time you checked the other fluids?

Automatic transmission and brake fluid should be changed every 50,000 to 100,000km, or whatever interval is recommended by the manufacturer. There’s a small dipstick for transmission fluid, usually behind the engine. It should be bright pink. Brake fluid is usually a clear beige colour. If they’re clouded or dirty, it’s probably a good time to have them changed in order to ensure good performance and long life. 

Also, don’t forget to check your coolant levels. Overheating is a common cause of breakdowns and vehicle fires. Especially in the hot summer weather. Remember to never open your radiator when the car is hot. 

Replace a dirty air filter 

When was the last time you replaced your engine air filter? Dusty spring and summer roads can clog it and reduce performance. It’s a job that’s fairly easy to do yourself on most vehicles, and will ensure long engine life.

Check your vehicle’s HVAC 

Your car’s heating and cooling system works overtime in extreme weather. Get it tuned up so you’re not roasting on those long trips to the cottage.

Fire up your AC to make sure the compressor is working, and it’s blowing cold air. If not, you may need to top up the refrigerant. While there are home kits, this is a job best left to professionals due to the high pressures involved.

You should also check your cabin air filter. This is usually hidden behind the glove box and can be replaced by yourself. If it’s black or wet, get a new one. Otherwise just shake out the leaves.

Keeping your car well maintained this spring will ensure plenty of happy road trips during over the long, hot summer.

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