If you’ve been driving your vehicle through winter’s worst all season long, spring driving will feel like a relief — even if the roads are a little too wet and muddy to be considered ideal commuting conditions. Most drivers spend a lot of time thinking about their vehicle’s performance and safety in the winter, but the arrival of spring doesn’t mean you should neglect your vehicle maintenance routine. Vehicle maintenance is a year-round concern, and spring is a good time to check back in with all the parts of your vehicle that have been working hard for you all winter.
Check your battery.
To help make sure your vehicle’s battery is ready for the coldest and hottest months of the year, have it tested in the fall and spring. An average battery will last for three to five years, but extreme cold and heat can tax its life expectancy.
If you see corrosion on your battery’s terminals, it could mean that your battery is old and needs to be replaced.1 If you’re unsure about its age, you can usually find a manufacture date moulded on the plastic outer casing or stamped on the top. If you notice signs that your vehicle has reduced access to battery power — like a slow cranking engine or poor performance of electrical components such as sluggish power windows or dimming headlights — have your battery inspected as soon as possible.
Speaking of headlights: Before you consider replacing your bulbs or battery, give your headlights a good spring cleaning. You can use specialty headlight cleaning products or even a soft-bristle toothbrush and toothpaste.
Top up your vehicle’s fluids.
- Oil: The winter weather can also be harsh on your vehicle’s fluids, including its oil quality. Spring is a good time to get an oil change for better performance and to help protect your engine. Make sure you check your owner’s manual for the oil products that are best for operating your vehicle in warmer weather.
- Coolant: Coolant becomes even more important for your vehicle’s hardworking engine as the weather gets warmer. The active ingredients in coolant eventually expire, and experts recommend a coolant check about every 48,000 kilometres (30,000 miles).2
- Windshield wiper fluid: A quick consultation of your owner’s manual will show you how to refill your wiper fluid, since it’s likely nearly run out from battling all the winter snow, slush and hail.
- Brake and transmission fluid: It’s a good idea to get these crucial fluids checked by your mechanic during your vehicle’s spring checkup as well.
Refresh your tires.
When spring arrives and the temperature is consistently warmer than 7°C (45°F), it’s time to replace winter tires with ones that are better suited for warmer conditions. On average, a set of winter tires can last between five to seven years, but you should always have your tires inspected before they’re put back on your vehicle for the season. Your all-season or summer tires could last up to ten years if they pass regular inspections and you don’t use them during the winter.3 Don’t forget to check the tread of your tires to make sure they’re not too worn down to be driven on safely.
Also make sure to get your tires aligned and rotated. Bumpy winter driving and spring potholes can tamper with tire alignment, causing unnecessary wear and making your vehicle less fuel-efficient. Rotating your tires also evens out any previous wear once they’re repositioned.
Replace your windshield wipers.
Your wiper blades have been cutting through snow and ice for months, so they should be assessed for damage and replaced if necessary. It’s typically recommended that you replace your wiper blades every six months, in the spring and fall, for optimal performance.4 If your wiper blades are in visibly bad shape or making grating noises while in use, they should be replaced as soon as possible. If you clean your wiper blades and they’re still not effectively clearing your windshield, it’s time to upgrade your blades.
Other important checking points
- Belts and hoses: Damaged belts and hoses can cause major issues with your vehicle any time of the year, but you’ll especially want to get them inspected if you’re planning on taking long road trips or driving to the cottage or campground this summer.
- Brakes: The harshness of winter roads, corrosive road salt and increased use of your anti-lock braking system can wear down your brakes faster than usual. Have your brakes checked to ensure safe springtime driving.
- Oxygen sensor: Checking if this relatively inexpensive part needs to be replaced could greatly improve your gas mileage, as it helps manage your engine’s fuel–oxygen mixture.5
- Air conditioning: Although working A/C isn’t essential for your car to get you from point A to point B, you’ll probably want to turn it all the way up in the summer. Make sure the A/C is working efficiently in the spring so you won’t be stuck sweltering in your vehicle when summer arrives.
For Canadian drivers, helping your vehicle transition from winter to spring is an important part of the year-round vehicle maintenance cycle. Give your ride the TLC it needs to recover from the winter so you can drive confidently into the spring with improved performance.
If you’re looking for a deal on home and automobile insurance, we invite you to get started with an online quote. When you purchase home and automobile insurance through Hudson’s Bay Financial Services and aha insurance, you’ll be eligible to receive up to 4,000 Hudson’s Bay Rewards points.6
1 Geobeats. “Knowing When Your Car Battery Needs to Be Replaced.” Retrieved November 15, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sljMBgyWMEM.
2 Tires Plus Total Car Care. “The 5 Most Important Car Fluids to Check in the Spring.” Retrieved November 14, 2019, from https://blog.tiresplus.com/maintenance/most-important-car-fluids-check-spring/.
3 Xtreme Tire Garage Inc. “Getting Your Tires Ready for Spring.” Retrieved November 12, 2019, from http://xtremetiregarage.com/2019/03/getting-your-tires-ready-for-spring/.
4 North Brothers Ford. “Why Replace Your Wiper Blades for Spring?” Retrieved November 14, 2019, from https://www.northbrothersford.net/spring-wiper-blade-care.htm.
5 CBS News. “Car Care: Spring Maintenance Check List.” Retrieved November 14, 2019, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/car-care-spring-maintenance-check-list/.
6 Hudson’s Bay Rewards points offers may change without notice. All Rewards points will be awarded within four to six weeks. When you use a valid Canadian-issued credit card to pay your monthly premiums, you will earn 1,000 Rewards points when you enrol for a $200/month benefit; 2,000 Rewards points for a $250/month benefit; 4,000 Rewards points for a $500 benefit; 6,000 Rewards points for a $750/month benefit and 8,000 Rewards points for a $1,000/month benefit. Earn up to 8,000 Rewards points on the anniversary date of your policy. Rewards points will not be pro-rated if you cancel before the anniversary date.