With all the treacherous roads, salt and flying ice washed away with springtime rains, you can slowly start to see how the harsh weather has affected your car. With the warmer weather and some desire to undertake projects at home, now is the perfect time to take a close look at your ride and give it the love it deserves. And hey, a clean car always seems to run better too!
We’ve prepared a list of things to check to get your vehicle ready for the summer. Some of these tips may require a repair shop or specialist tools; some will not. If you have a free weekend, some technical chops and a fast connection to Youtube (if you get stuck) – then take on our 11 step guide to spring car maintenance.
1. Swap & Store Winter Tires
This step should be a no-brainer. You do know how to swap your wheels and tires, right? Get to your trusted mechanic and get your winter tires swapped and stored if you aren’t sure, or if you would prefer to leave it to the professionals. If you’re storing your tires in your garage, make sure they’re stored correctly because there are a variety of ways for you to damage them over time. Hint, don’t stack your wheels!
Why not run your winter tires all year round? In a nutshell, the tread is specially made for cold weather conditions. Warm weather, along with hot pavement, will accelerate wear. Get your summer wheels and tires on and store those plain steelies.
2. Check Your Tire Pressures
Now that you’ve got your nice rims installed, it’s time to double-check your tire pressures. On most passenger cars, there is a sticker on the inside of the driver or passenger door. (Go look!) You’ll find a decal with detailed information about your vehicle, including the recommended PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) of your tires.
Always follow the recommended tire pressures for your particular vehicle. Many cars will use slightly different pressures in the front and rear, so don’t assume they are all the same. Never use the PSI rating on your tires – this is their MAX rating (usually around 50 something for most passenger car tires, but often much higher on larger truck tires) and will cause a hard ride, poor handling and destructive tire wear.
3. Replace Windshield Wipers
Frozen ice, heavy slush and dirty snow take a heavy tool on your windshield wipers. If you had winter windshield wipers installed now is the time to reinstall your summer blades. Like Winter tires (and most things on this list), windshield wipers are formulated for specific temperatures. Inspect the condition of your windshield wipers by pulling up the wiper arm and closely inspecting the blade for any cracks, bends or rips.
Since rain is prominent during spring and summer, you want your windshield wipers to work effectively. Consider investing in a quality set of winter and summer wiper blades, they should last for multiple seasons of clear driving.
4. Oil Change
Oil is the lifeblood of your engine, and an oil change is always going to be at the top of any car maintenance list. Oil comes formulated to protect and lubricate your car’s engine in generally two conditions – when running at operating temperature and during a cold startup.
Startup at -20 Celcisus is going to see the engine start spinning while potentially frozen oil remains a thick sludge. Winter formulated oil is made to remain liquid at very low temps while possibly trading off for being thinner at higher temps. A summer weight oil will be made to ensure maximum protection and lubrication during prolonged high temperature operation.
According to the Chicago Tribune, it’s recommended that Ottawa drivers should change their oil every 8,000 to 12,000 km (Check your owner’s manual for specific manufacturer recommendations). But it’s a good habit to get into to always change your oil in the spring and fall – switching to seasonal formulas at the same time.
5. Inspect Your Brake Pads
Like everything in a car, wear and tear is inevitable, with the majority of that coming from your brakes, tires and engine oil. It’s recommended to have your brake pads changed every 80,000 km, but you should get them checked every 40,000 km.
Due to the make of the car, design of the braking system and how you use your brakes, it’ll vary on how quickly your pads deteriorate; it’s always a good idea to get them checked regardless.
6. Check All Your Fluids
Under the hood, various fluids need to be checked every month. The list of fluids to check on are as follows:
Radiator (change every 50,000 km)
Transmission (change every 50,000 – 90,000 km)
Power Steering (change every 80,000 km)
Brake (change every 2-4 years)
Air Conditioning (for older vehicles)
Washer (every 10,000 km)
Since many of these changes are similar in mileage, we suggest getting all your fluids changed in one stop instead of making multiple trips to your mechanic. Most fluid intervals will be listed in your owner’s manual along with specifics on the type of fluid you must use.
Search YouTube for your make and model and how to check any of the fluids listed. It’s amazing how much car maintenance you can learn on YouTube! Even if you never plan to do the work yourself – get informed about the process so you know what you are asking your mechanic to do.
7. Check Your Suspension & Alignment
Remember that snowbank you powered through last December? Ottawa roads can be tough year round, but throw in ice chunks, ruts and potholes and there is little doubt that your suspension could use a little love.
You should be checking your alignment every 25,000 to 50,000 km, preferably after every winter. Without any correction to your suspension and alignment, your car will pull to one side, and your tires will wear out prematurely.
8. Inspect Windshield For Cracks
Even the smallest crack can result in serious damage to your windshield. If you see a crack on your windshield, don’t put it off, get it fixed immediately. Sometimes you will get lucky and the windshield can be repaired with a special silicone filling. We also provide windshield replacement and installation if the crack isn’t worth fixing.
9. Wash & Wax Your Car
The effects of road salt and dirt can have an everlasting impact on your car’s exterior in the form of paint deterioration and rust. With a complete car detail, you ensure that your paint is protected and your car is looking its best. Apply a plastic protectant to all of the unpainted trim items on the exterior and clean and make sure to detail your tires for that showroom shine.
It’s not a bad idea to get under the hood and do a little tidying as well. Not only is washing and waxing your vehicle beneficial for your car’s condition, but it feels great driving a super clean car.
10. Clean The Car’s Interior
Again, salt and snow aren’t your car’s friend during the winter, being mostly tracked in with your winter boots. Salt is especially annoying because it will seep into your vehicle’s carpet and be a pain to remove. We encourage you to use rubber mats in the winter and cover as much of your carpet as possible to prevent stains and other damage.
When cleaning the dash, use a clean paintbrush on all the tiny buttons, vents and switchgear along with a quality automotive interior cleaner to really get your centre console and door panels looking new. Whether cleaned professionally or on your own, get your car looking good and smelling fresh for summer.
11. Clean & Inspect Lights
It would help if you had a good chance to get well acquainted with all the lights on the exterior of your car as you wash and wax it. Are your headlights faded? Are the plastic housings looking hazy? Pick up a lens restoration kit and give them a good polish – these kits will work great on your rear lenses and side markers too!
Have a friend walk around your car as you test every light. Check the high beams, low beams, fog lamps, daytime running lights, parking lights, turn signals, brake lights and backup lights. Don’t forget to check your license plate lights, the 4-way flashers and rear fog light if you have it!
Get Ready For Summer With Bemac
See anything on this list that may need changing or checking? At Bemac, our team of professionals know what to look for and make sure the little things aren’t missed. If you’re looking for a reliable shop that will provide your annual spring car maintenance, while returning your car with a fresh detail, polish and wax, choose Bemac.