Each spring when you move your clocks ahead an hour for daylight savings time it’s a good idea to also start planning the seasonal change for your vehicle.
If you switch to snow tires in the winter, start thinking about when you’re going to switch back to your summer tires. You should swap your snow tires out for your summer tires as soon as you feel it’s safe to do so. Snow tires are much more than just a different tread. Snow tires are designed to perform at colder temperatures. The rubber is designed to stay soft and grip when it’s below 7 C. 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 tire shop or dealership. It may still be cold and slippery in the mornings, so you don’t want to do it too soon, but waiting too long is not good either.
When your tire shop or dealership is swapping your tires have them check your wheel alignment. During the winter months you may have brushed up against curbs or snow banks. Bumpy winter roads, potholes, and other seasonal conditions can throw your wheel alignment off. This will cause uneven tire wear and premature wearing of suspension parts. It can even affect your fuel economy.
While your vehicle is in the shop it’s good time to have your car completely serviced. Brakes, fluids, belts, hoses, and charging system all should be checked over. Ask to have your wiper blades checked both on the front and rear of your vehicle. They’ve been used as ice scrappers 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 the most.
Your windshield washer fluid should be topped up and a spare jug kept in your vehicle. You will be using it a lot more on the dirty spring roads and running out would be a problem. Always use a proper fluid and never refill with straight water unless that’s all you have. This can cause expensive repairs if you forget and it freezes.
You’ve heard the term spring cleaning. This applies to your vehicle as well. You probably didn’t clean it very often, or at all, during the cold days of winter. Dirt and debris will have built up. This dirt and debris can affect working components in your vehicle and cause unnecessary wear and tear.
Make sure your vehicle gets 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 scrappers and other winter items in a marked box and store out of the way in your garage or basement so it’s ready to go next fall. If you’re feeling lazy or just don’t have the time, book it into a detail shop. Your vehicle will be better off for it and it will make you fill good getting into a clean vehicle.
Winter and dirty spring roads cause havoc on your air filter and cabin air filter. As we talked about in a previous column, dirty air filters can affect fuel economy by as much as ten 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 and/or air conditioning, not to mention reduce the air quality inside your vehicle. Keeping them both clean is a good investment for your both your vehicle and your health.
If safe to drive, it’s probably a good idea to wait until after the roads are clean of winter gravel and debris to consider replacing your windshield. Doing it too early, before the roads are clean, can cause heartache, and the cost of another windshield.
Having your vehicle cleaned up, serviced, and ready for summer roads, offers you great peace of mind and it just feels really good.
Catch Driving, with Jens on CHON FM Thursdays at 8:15. If you have any questions or comments you can reach out to Jens Nielsen at firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook or Twitter: @drivingwithjens.