Tune up: easy auto maintenance for spring

pouring engine oil funnel

For those fortunate enough to live in the warmer regions of Canada, cherry blossoms are already starting to sprout from once-barren tree branches: a sure sign that spring is nearly upon us. To officially welcome the sunnier months ahead, why not give your vehicle a proper spring tune up? Follow this checklist to get your ride running and looking in tip-top shape.

Oil change

engine oil change

After a long season of driving, full of temperature fluctuations, your engine oil has been through a lot and is overdue for a change. If you swapped to thinner viscosity oil for easier cold starts, switch back to whatever the factory recommends for spring/summer. Swing by your dealership and pick up an OEM oil filter for best results, or, if you’d rather let the pros handle it, book an appointment with the service department.

Replace your wipers 


Dirty, rain-splattered windshields in the winter mean your wipers have likely been working overtime. The icy mornings can also wreak havoc on the rubber blades making them less effective — you’ll know it when they make that loud, squeaky noise as they streak their way across the glass. It’s an inexpensive and easy item to replace yourself, and while you’re at it, pop the hood and top off the windshield washer fluid.

 

Inspect brakes and suspension

Porsche 911 brake system

Constantly slowing down the car in inclement weather can quickly wear down your brake pads and rotors. If it’s been awhile since you’ve had a mechanic look at your braking system, or if you notice any odd sounds or feeling when you step on the pedal, now would be a great time to have it inspected. The same goes for the suspension and alignment that may have been knocked slightly out of whack from driving over all those potholes.

Battery check

car battery

Another vital part that can experience a lot of stress during sub-zero conditions is the battery. The chemical reactions that place inside to generate electricity slow down at lower temps, and there is more strain placed on it when starting in a cold environment. Did you know most automotive batteries last between approximately three to five years? Most shops should have the equipment to test the voltage and overall health.

Wash and wax

washing Honda Odyssey

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t detail your car too often in the winter, if at all. Four-plus months of grime and salt build-up isn’t a pretty sight, so break out the soap, bucket and sponge and give the paint a good once (or twice) over. After the wash, apply a nice coating of automotive wax to seal in the shine and protect the finish. Don’t forget about the interior, either. Dispose of those empty bottles and gum wrappers, vacuum the carpets and wipe down the steering wheel and dash with a damp towel.

About the Author

Benjamin Yong's picture

Benjamin Yong is a freelance journalist and communications professional living in Richmond, B.C. He is often found writing about cars and the auto industry, amongst other things, or driving around in his work-in-progress 1990 Mazda MX-5.

Twitter: @b_yong
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