Your Spring Maintenance Check list
Changing seasons require a bit of forethought when it comes to driving. Winter driving brings its bag of challenges but planning for life after winter is important too. Preparing for spring driving conditions can prolong your vehicle’s lifespan, save you money, and keep you (and others) safe on the road.
Winter is finally over. Jack Frost received his marching orders, and it won’t be long until we’re all gearing up for summer road trips.
With nothing but sunshine (and the odd shower) on the weather forecast, it might feel like you don’t have to be quite as vigilant on the road. But spring driving also comes with potential hazards, and Canadians need to be aware and alert to them.
With warmer weather, you start to see more pedestrians and share the road with cyclists. Wildlife comes out of hibernation around this time of year, and animals will often cross busy highways and freeways as they forage for food.
Road construction zones are seen more in the spring. City workers perform maintenance that they couldn’t do in the colder months. Some workers spend this time of year filling menacing potholes that formed thanks to the big chill of the previous season. This could mean more traffic than in colder months but also more people on the road to be mindful of.
When spring comes, so does the sunshine. But melting snow and ice also make way for spring rains and severe flooding across the country. When it rains heavily, large puddles form in parts of the road. Driving through deep puddles can cause your tires to lose traction with the road. This loss of traction is called hydroplaning. It can be dangerous but is highly avoidable with extra caution and good tire maintenance.
As you can see, spring presents new challenges to be aware of. Ensuring your vehicle is in tip-top shape is a good way to stay safe on the road in spring. Otherwise, you may end up in a situation that could put you and other passengers at risk of an accident. Besides safety benefits, Canadians who actively take care of their vehicle at the start of the season could save a noticeable sum on maintenance costs.
The following checklist includes maintenance tips for your vehicle when the first signs of spring start to reveal themselves.
1. Replace Your Winter Tires
Once winter ends, you should replace your winter tires with summer or all-season tires. This change should be made when the weather gets consistently above 7 degrees Celsius. If you leave winter tires on after the snow and ice are long gone, winter tires will wear out faster than other spring-appropriate tires. The flexible tread rubber on winter tires that deliver more traction on ice and snow will wear out faster in warmer conditions.
Winter tires will affect your car’s performance too. These tires don’t possess the rigidity that summer and all-season tires have, and this lack of rigidity can affect your car’s ability to manoeuvre effectively.
Once you replace your winter tires, remember to spray or wash them before you store them away. Removing excess salt off your winter tires will prevent corrosion. Make sure to store your winter tires in a cool, dry area to keep them in top condition and ready for next winter.
2. Take Care of Your Tires
Tire care is essential all year round.
Tire rotation involves switching the back tires to the front, and vice versa.
Because the weight of a vehicle isn’t distributed evenly on tires, the treadwear on each is impacted differently. Front tires almost always carry more weight because they direct the vehicle’s steering and also hold more weight during braking as a car shifts forward.
Rotation is one of the easiest and most effective things to do before spring hits as it can extend the lifespan of your tires while also improving gas mileage.
To avoid tires wearing out too quickly, bring your vehicle into an auto mechanic and have them assess the air pressure in your tires and conduct a routine tire rotation. This regular maintenance will help prevent any hydroplaning mishaps that we discussed above.
3. Wash Away Road Salt
If you’re an active driver during winter, the chances are high that the exterior of your car is coated in salt. Road salt can lead to rusting and other damage to the body and undercarriage of your car.
If your vehicle hasn’t been washed recently, the arrival of spring is the perfect time to do it. Most car washes have spraying machines that target underneath vehicles with enough force for effective salt removal.
It’s never a bad idea to get a routine vehicle wash, even in the dead of winter. It will ensure that your vehicle’s body and paint job stays pristine.
4. Check your Vehicle’s Fluids
Typically, vehicles should have an oil change every 8,000 to 16,000 km. Although, with more modern models, some vehicles can last up to 24,000 km without an oil change. Your owner’s manual will tell you how frequently various fluid checks need to be done, and spring is a good time to do a quick check-in under your bonnet.
An oil change ensures adequate lubrication of moving parts and that all internal components of the vehicle are working well together.
If you’re planning on changing your vehicle’s oil for spring, it’s also a good idea to check the transmission fluid. The transmission fluid is often neglected when it comes to regular maintenance, which is surprising considering a vehicle’s transmission can be expensive to repair.
While your bonnet is lifted, you might also check coolant levels and brake fluid, and top up your windshield wiper blade fluids too.
5. Check the Brakes
Neglecting your brakes after the winter season could result in costly repairs down the road, not to mention potential safety and driving issues.
Have a mechanic check your vehicle’s brakes, including the pads and rotors. Winter road conditions can do some serious harm to your braking system, so making sure your brakes are in good shape for the spring will benefit your vehicle, as well as other drivers and pedestrians.
Is Spring a Good Time to Buy a New Vehicle?
Spring may be one of the best times to buy a brand new vehicle, as new models are typically introduced when the warmer weather arrives, and dealers often have some great offers available.
But before you pick out the car you want, the first step to purchasing a new vehicle is to know how much you can get approved.
Pinpointing your price range before you start shopping can help you narrow down your search and make the car-buying process faster, easier, and more enjoyable.