We’ve seen everything this winter in the Greater Vancouver region, from record breaking snow and rain, to unseasonably warm days. But fear not, spring really is just around the corner, and we have tips to prepare your car for spring.
Canadian winters are the harshest season for cars. Our vehicles really have to go through a lot with brine solution, salt and sand on the roads, along with ice, potholes, and temperature variances.
You can wipe away the grime and set your car up to look like new again this spring.
Tips to prepare your car for spring
1. Swap out your winter wheels/tires.
There are unquestionable benefits of winter tires over all-seasons at temperatures under 7 degrees Celsius. Their stickier softer rubber compound allows significantly more grip at lower temperatures, helping to keep us on the roads and out of the ditches.
However, your winter tires on too long at higher ambient temperatures will result in excessive wear, worse handling, and increased fuel consumption (due to higher rolling resistance). Don't forget to check and adjust the tire pressures on your all-season or summer tires when it’s time to swap them over.
Remember to give the spare tire a quick once over as it is usually the most neglected tire and also arguably the most important one.
When the winter tires are off the car, inspect them for damage so that you’re not caught off guard next winter.
2. Vacuum your car and clear out the trash.
Sand and salt have almost definitely made it into your car due how much the road crews dump onto our roads every winter. Now’s a great time to start vacuuming the dirt and those little pebbles out of the crevices. While you’re at it, clear out any of the junk that you’ve been dumping on the floor or back seat.
If you have leather seats, now would be a good time to do a quick clean and condition as well due to the dry winter months wearing out the leather prematurely. Your car dealer’s parts department will likely have the appropriate manufacturer-approved products, or at least can make the proper recommendation as to what you need to buy.
3. Clean the windows.
Notice your windows fogging up really easily? This is partly due to the film of dirt that has clung onto the glass. Moisture loves to bind to something and that in turn becomes fog on the inside of your windows.
Use a high quality non-ammonia based car window cleaner and some newspaper or lint-free cloth. The ammonia in household cleaners will cause the windows to fog up even worse so stay away from it. If you have aftermarket tinted windows, ammonia-based household cleaners can also damage the tint film.
Be sure to use a soft microfiber cloth and not newspaper if you have aftermarket tinted windows because the paper fibres can scratch the tint film.
4. Change your wiper blades .
Salt spray, dirt, ice all result in torn-up wiper blades at the end of the winter months. You don’t want to be caught blinded by ineffective windshield wipers if there is a sudden downpour.
If your blades are relatively new but already streaking, try adding a small amount of nail polish remover (acetone) on a paper towel and then wiping both swipe sides of the wiper blade with it.
This will slightly dissolve the top layer of rubber and may prolong the blade for another few months. However, be sure not to get any of the remover on your paint!
5. Replace your cabin air filter (if your car has one).
The cabin air filter is the last line of defense between the air you breathe in the car, and the pollen, dirt, plant material in the air outside your car. Change your filter at the end of every winter season and you won’t have to worry about it for the rest of the year. Contact your dealer's part department as the Original Equipment part is frequently of better quality and not necessarily more expensive.
Be sure to check for any fallen and decomposing leaves in the cabin air intake system too as they may be obstructing airflow.
6. Wash and wax your car.
Wipe down the inside of the door sills and the rocker panels to keep your pant legs clean. Use a high quality car wash detergent to wash your car. Never use dishwashing detergent as that strips wax from and dulls the paint.
Invest in a high quality microfiber or real sheepskin mitt, or a boar’s hair brush. All 3 will trap the surface dirt deeper in the fibres/hairs and prevent them from scratching the paint. Stay away from sponges for the opposite reason. Remember to rinse the mitt or brush frequently with clean water.
Wear a disposable surgical or waterproof garden glove inside the mitt if the water temperature is still cold. This will help to keep your hand from freezing too quickly.
Be sure to hose off all the accumulated salt and dirt from the inside of the wheel wells and on the undercarriage of the car to prevent rust. Going through an automated touchless car wash that has a high pressure underbody spray may be a good idea.
Since it may still be a bit too cold to do a complete wax/polish job on your car, try using some spray wax quick detailer with a microfiber cloth after washing and drying the car.
This will add some temporary protection till warmer temperatures arrive to do a full clay bar/polish job for the summer.