Sunny weather, birds chirping, and blooming gardens can only mean one thing: spring has finally sprung. After a long winter and all the driving hazards that come with it, now is a good time to take care of auto maintenance in time for those long summer road trips. With a new season comes specific concerns and challenges for car owners, so it’s a good idea to learn about how to care for your vehicle during this time.
For the millions of Canadians who rely on a personal vehicle to get them where they need to go, knowing how to care for your car is essential. Unfortunately, many car owners aren’t sure where to begin when it comes to developing a maintenance plan that works for them. That’s why we’ve created a list of the most important spring car care tips to help you maintain your vehicle all year round.
Check for Wintertime Damage
After months of winter activities and weather conditions, it’s important to learn how to spot damage and do a thorough check to catch early signs. Many car owners overlook minor damages during these months. After all, no one wants to stand in freezing temperatures to do a full inspection. So as we enter a new season, take the opportunity to have your car checked for any signs of damage including dents, scratches, and paint chips that may have occurred due to ice scrapers, hail, and flying debris.
Rust is a particularly common problem for vehicle maintenance during winter because the combination of frequent moisture, deicing salt on the roads, and low temperatures can increase the risk of rust damaging the integrity of the metal on your vehicle. Rust can theoretically occur on any outside surface, but be sure to pay special attention to the underside of the car, as this can often go unnoticed.
Look for Cracks in the Windshield & Replace Wipers
Freezing rain, flying pebbles, and scraping ice can take a serious toll on your windshield. Even tiny, virtually invisible cracks will eventually worsen over time, potentially forcing you to replace the entire windshield. So springtime is a great opportunity to take a closer look at the glass to catch any cracks that may have formed in the previous season.
It’s also more than likely that you’ve made good use of your windshield wipers (it’s the PNW after all) and persistent use and UV exposure can wear them down, causing them to work less effectively or stop working altogether. Replacing your wiper blades is a great way to prepare your vehicle for all kinds of conditions – and it’s usually exceedingly affordable.
Get an Oil Change
No matter the time of year, cars need regular oil changes to keep their engines running smoothly. On average, it’s recommended that you get an oil change roughly every 3,000 miles, or every six months. Having a regular schedule for oil changes is a great way to ensure you’re keeping up with essential functions, so why not include it in your spring car maintenance plan?
Switch Out Your Tires
While many car owners prefer to use all-season tires to accommodate changing weather conditions, others prefer to use specialized tires to get where they need to go. While winter tires are often suited with superior grip for extreme or slippery weather, summer tires are made to withstand rising temperatures. If you’ve utilized winter-specific tires to better handle ice and sleet over the winter, then spring maintenance is the perfect time to change your tires to something more appropriate for summer.
Have Your AC Assessed
One of the most important springtime driving tips is to make sure you’re comfortable and free from unnecessary distractions while on the road. No one wants to be stuck in the middle of a heatwave with no way to cool down, especially on a long drive. Given that your AC has likely gone unused for several months, as the weather heats up, it’s a good idea to have your AC checked and tested to make sure it can handle the incoming summer heat and keep you cool and comfortable.
Make a Maintenance Plan Early
Most people are constantly on the move, so it’s common to overlook essential car maintenance or push it off until you run into a serious problem. But keeping up with basic maintenance is the best way to keep your vehicle in top shape and avoid costly repairs later on. So scheduling maintenance repairs early and having consistent contact with your auto body shop will help take away some of the pressure and will pay off.
Even without major accidents or issues, basic car maintenance costs usually land between $1,000 and $2,000 each year. So, putting money aside throughout the year specifically for maintenance costs can be extremely helpful.
Consider a Used Car Warranty
If you’re looking to buy a car this spring, it’s a good idea to consider warranty options. Even though there are fewer driving hazards in the spring, accidents are still common, and it’s important to have a plan in case it happens to you. While all new cars come with a manufacturing warranty, it gets a bit more complicated when it comes to used cars. One of the best ways to protect your used vehicle (and your wallet) in the case of an accident is to seek out a warranty plan.
In some cases, depending on the age and condition of the car, you can get an extended manufacturer warranty. While this isn’t always an option for used cars, there are other routes you can take. Many used car dealerships offer dealership warranties, meaning that for a certain amount of time, the dealership or a partner repair company will cover certain costs in the event of damage. There are also third-party companies, such as CARCHEX or Endurance, that offer extended warranty plans long after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired.
Different companies have varying qualification standards for used cars, so be sure to look around until you find a company that will cover your vehicle.