Your Spring Car Maintenance Checklist to Keep Your Car in Great Shape

Ontario Spring Car Maintenance Checklist

When the weather warms up, the grass turns green, and the birds start chirping, it's time for vehicle owners to pay attention to spring car maintenance. Diligent preventative maintenance will go a long way toward keeping your car in safe, durable, and attractive condition so you don't have to worry about costly repairs or replacements as often and can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing your vehicle is safe to drive.

 If you need help figuring out where to start, the brokers at Morison Insurance have you covered with some spring car maintenance tips that will help to keep your vehicle operating smoothly throughout all the seasons.

Why Spring is the Perfect Time for Car Maintenance in Ontario

Vehicle maintenance can be done any time of the year, but spring car maintenance is an excellent idea here in Canada. Ontario residents and their cars are subjected to long, cold winter months and harsh weather conditions that can cause accelerated deterioration from all the snow, ice, grime, gravel and road salt—not to mention the fact that nobody really enjoys going outside to tinker with their car when temperatures plummet way below zero degrees Celsius.

When warmer weather hits, it's the perfect time to get out there, roll up your sleeves and take action to reverse the effects of the Canadian winter on your vehicle. That way, you can rest assured that your car is ready for summer road trips, autumn commutes, winter visits out of town and everything else you need it for.

Spring Car Maintenance Checklist for Vehicle Owners

So what does spring car maintenance entail, exactly? Here are some of the key steps to keep in mind.

1. Change From Winter Tires to All-Season Tires

Winter tires aren't mandated by the government in Ontario, but they're still highly recommended for your safety. The time that you put them on or take them off can vary a bit based on the weather where you live in Ontario since weather conditions can vary quite a bit across the province. If you need more clarification, the government recommendation is to have winter tires on your car from October 1st to April 30th. All-season tires are a good option for the spring, summer and autumn seasons, as you should not be using winter tires in summer. While switching them out, take a good look at the treads on your winter tires and all seasons to ensure they're still in good shape and can be safely used again.

2. Rotate Your Tires

While you're switching your tires out anyway, you should rotate them simultaneously by moving the tires you had at the rear up front and moving the front tires to the back. Your vehicle's weight is not evenly distributed across the front and back chassis, so the tires won't wear down at the same rate. By rotating them as part of your spring car maintenance, you can make sure they are wearing down at the same rate so they can all be replaced at once when the time comes. Double-check your tire pressure once you've got them in place to make sure it's at the correct level.

3. Head to the Car Wash

Another good spring car maintenance tip is to take a trip to the car wash—or handle it yourself, if you have the right tools and are willing to get in every nook and cranny—to clean off the accumulation of grime, road salt and other debris that has built up over the winter. If you took your car through the car wash a few times during the winter, which is an excellent habit to get into, the grime won't be so bad. It's essential to clean the exterior thoroughly during spring care maintenance because road salt will eat away at the paint and metal and leave you with big spots of rust on the body of the car if it's not removed promptly. 

4. Top-Up Engine Fluids

You likely need to refill your vehicle's engine fluids more than once per year, but spring car maintenance is a good time to double-check and ensure they're completely topped up. That includes brake fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, windshield washer fluid and radiator fluid. While you're at it, check the colour of your oil to see if it needs to be changed—if it's black, it's time for an oil change.

5. Get an Alignment Check

Ice and snow build up unevenly on road surfaces and conceal other obstacles like curbs, which means all winter long, you're not driving on a smooth, even road surface. That can cause issues with your wheel alignment that make the steering wheel feel off-centre or cause it to pull to one side at higher speeds. During spring car maintenance, take your car to an auto repair shop and have a mechanic do an alignment check. If it's misaligned, they can correct the problem, and you don't have to worry about problems like a less-responsive steering wheel.

6. Have the Brakes Checked

While you're getting an alignment check done, it's also a good idea to have your brakes checked out by a professional mechanic to ensure they're in great condition and the pads and rotors have stayed put during a season of winter driving. It doesn't take long and will give you peace of mind that you can bring your vehicle to a complete stop when you need to.

7. Repair Cracks in Windshield

Roads often get covered in gravel during the cold months, so there's something to maintain traction between the ice and your tires, and of course, that means there's plenty of opportunity for a stray pebble to come hurtling toward your windshield and cause a chip or crack. Minor problems can quickly turn into a crack that spans the entire windshield, so an intelligent spring car maintenance tip is to take your car to an auto glass repair shop sooner rather than later before the damage worsens significantly.

8. Test Your Battery

Like the rest of Canada, Ontario can be subjected to extreme temperature swings during the winter, which significantly impacts your vehicle's battery. A good spring car maintenance tip is to plug your battery in during cold snaps where the winter temperatures dip below about -12 degrees Celsius. However, your battery can take a beating even if you're diligent about plugging it in, or it never really gets that cold where you live. Use a battery load tester to ensure it's still in good shape and doesn't need replacement.

9. Swap Out Filters

Your vehicle has several filters that need to be changed at least once per year, and in some cases more frequently than that, including the engine air filter, fuel filter and cabin air filter. Getting them replaced will help a lot to improve the fuel efficiency of your vehicle, and it can also make the interior of your car more comfortable for allergy sufferers, as changing the cabin air filter will improve the air quality inside the vehicle.

10. Check Engine Belts and Hoses

The belts and hoses connected to your car's engine don't typically need to be replaced yearly, but you should check them annually and ensure they're still in good condition. Take a good look at components such as the coolant hose and water pump belt to ensure they don't have cracks or glazing, which is when a belt becomes worn down to the point that it appears shiny, smooth and "glazed."

11. Replace Wiper Blades

Generally, your windshield wiper blades need to be replaced twice a year, and spring car maintenance is the right time for one of those replacements because they've been working overtime to clear snow, slush, and other precipitation. A good rule of thumb is to replace your wiper blades every time you switch to or from your winter tires.

12. Clean Out and Vacuum Interior

While you're working on spring car maintenance, it makes sense to take care of an all-around spring cleaning by removing all the trash or extra items in your car, vacuuming the fabric components, washing the floor mats, and wiping down any hard surfaces. While you're at it, do a quick test of your exterior lights to ensure they're all working correctly, and you don't have a burned-out bulb.

13. Review Your Auto Insurance

Finally, your car insurance renewal may not fall in the spring, but if it does, carefully check over your renewal notice to ensure the terms are acceptable. You also need to take the time to think over any changes over the last year that could affect your coverage and let your Morison Insurance broker know about them. That includes significant changes to your commute or the time of day when you typically drive, whether your vehicle has been in storage for part of the year, and whether you need to use it for business purposes rather than just personal use.

This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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