As we say goodbye to winter and welcome spring, it’s time to give our vehicles a once-over.
The first step is to swap our snow tires for summer tires as soon as we feel it’s safe to do so. Conditions may still be cold and slippery in the mornings so we don’t want to do it too soon. But waiting too long is not good either.
There’s a lot more to snow tires than the tread. They’re designed to perform best at colder temperatures. The rubber is designed to stay soft and grip when it’s below 7C. When temperatures warm up, you will not get a crisp response from snow tires. The rubber on snow tires is very flexible and will wear quickly, and probably unevenly, in warm temperatures and on dry pavement. Summer tires are a harder compound which will give you better performance and better fuel economy in warm weather. Book your car in to have the tires swapped as soon as you think you’re ready. If you wait for the last minute (like everybody else) you may experience wait times to get into your favorite tire or repair shop.
While you’re getting your tires swapped it’s a good idea to have your wheel alignment checked. Over the winter you may have brushed curbs and snow banks. Winter roads, potholes, and other conditions can throw your alignment off. This can cause uneven tire wear and premature wearing of suspension parts. It can even affect fuel economy. It’s important that your vehicle steers and tracks properly. It can be a safety issue. Spend the money to have it checked.
Spring is also a good time to have your car completely serviced. Brakes, fluids, belts, hoses, and charging system all should be checked over.
During your spring service, ask your shop to check your wiper blades. They’ve been used as ice scrapers all winter. Snow, ice, and cold temperatures can cause the rubber to split and crack. When this happens they won’t perform as well as they should when you need them most.
Top up your windshield washer fluid and keep a spare jug in the car. You will be using it a lot more on the dirty spring roads and you don’t want to run out. Always use a proper fluid and never refill with straight water unless that’s all you have. This can cause expensive repairs if it freezes.
Dirty spring roads also cause havoc for air filters both under the hood and in the cabin. As we talked about in a previous column, dirty air filters can affect fuel economy by as much as 10 per cent. Dirty air filters can also affect engine performance, and eventually even fail, causing engine damage that would not be covered by your warranty. It does happen. Clogged cabin air filters can affect the performance of your heat or air conditioning and reduce the air quality inside your vehicle. Keeping them both clean is a good investment.
After the roads are clean of winter gravel and debris is a good time to consider replacing your windshield if needed. Doing it too early, before the roads are clean, can cause heartache and the cost of another windshield.
Spring is also a great time to give your car a full cleaning, both inside and out. Start by going through the trunk, all compartments, and under the seats. Remove anything that accumulated over the winter that’s not needed through the summer. Put ice scrapers and other winter items in a marked box and store out of the way in your garage. It will be ready to go next fall.
We tend not to clean our cars during the cold days of winter. Dirt and debris build up. This dirt and debris can affect working components in your car and cause unnecessary wear and tear. It’s important to the long term health of your vehicle to clean it all out. If you’re feeling lazy or just don’t have the time, book it into a detail shop. It just feels great to hop into a nice clean car.
While these spring tips may all seem pretty simple and obvious, it’s amazing how many of us don’t do them. If we have the discipline to do these things our car will last longer and give us fewer problems.
Having our vehicle clean, serviced, and ready for summer roads offers great peace of mind and just feels good. Plus, you’ll be ready for any last-minute road trips.
Catch Driving with Jens on CHON FM Thursdays at 8:15 a.m. Send questions or comments to Jens Nielsen at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @drivingwithjens.