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Spring Car Maintenance Tips

10 August 2020 AutoMarket, Tips & Advice

After a long winter, you’re probably itching to get out and enjoy the some spring sunshine. This time of the year is perfect for adventuring and exploring, whether you’re on a family vacation or a solo roadtrip. But whatever your travel plans are this spring, one thing is certain: spring is a time for cleaning both your home and your car, too.

Winter’s harsh conditions have likely taken a toll on your car, which is probably showing some signs of wear and tear. Therefore, there’s no better time to give your car a full inspection and clear up any minor issues before they become major ones. Here are some car maintenance tips to help keep yours running safely this spring.

Change your oil and oil filter

Changing your oil and filter at your vehicle’s recommended intervals is one of the best ways to keep its engine running smoothly. Neglecting your engine oil can result in poor engine performance, higher fuel consumption and even severe long-term damage. Here’s a step-by-step:

  1. Since warm oil drains faster than cold, run your engine for just a couple of minutes. Be careful not to let your engine oil reach full operating temperature, because it will be far too hot to safely drain.
  2. Drive your car onto two ramps. Apply the parking brake, and remove the key. Place chucks behind the wheels for safety, and don’t forget your glasses and gloves for extra protection.
  3. Locate the oil drain plug and place the oil pan below it. Consult your owner’s service manual if you’re having trouble locating yours. Remember that the oil will flow at an angle into the pan. Loosen the plug with a socket wrench.
  4. Unscrew the plug by hand. While unscrewing it, push the plug back towards the pan to keep oil from rushing out until you are ready to remove the plug from the hole. Be careful—that oil may be hot!
  5. Drain the old oil. Check your owner’s service manual to find the location of the filler cap on top of your engine. Removing it makes the draining process faster because air can enter from the top.
  6. Replace the oil plug. Once all the old oil is drained, replace and tighten the oil plug by hand, making sure it’s not cross-threaded. After the plug is hand-tight, secure it with a wrench. If indicated in your owner’s service manual, use a new drain plug gasket. Never over-tighten the drain plug.
  7. Remove the existing oil filter. Even after you’ve drained the oil, the old oil filter can still contain hot oil. Position the oil pan under the old filter, then carefully use your oil filter wrench to remove the filter. Use a rag to clean the mounting surface on the engine, and make sure the gasket from the old filter is not stuck to it.
  8. Lubricate the new filter and screw it into place by hand. Before installing your filter, lightly coat its rubber seal with fresh oil. Check to make sure the seal is properly set in the filter, then screw on the filter by hand. It’s usually not necessary to tighten the oil filter with the wrench, but check the filter’s instructions to be sure.
  9. Pour in new oil. Make sure to use a clean funnel, and pour in the amount and type of oil specified for your vehicle. Some oil may not have drained out, and you don’t want to overfill it. When you have completed pouring in the specified amount of oil, don’t forget to replace the cap.
  10. Run the engine and look for leaks. After you run the engine for a few minutes, check the area around the oil drain plug and the filter for leaks. If you see a leak, cut off the engine and correct it. If you see no leaks, shut off the engine and let it rest a minute or two to give the oil time to drain down.
  11. Check the oil level. Remove the dipstick. Wipe it off. Replace it. Then remove it again to see if it’s up to the “full mark.” If it’s not full, add the balance of the oil shown in the owner’s service manual. Finish up by removing the chucks and backing off the ramps.
  12. Dispose of the old oil and oil filter properly. Take both to either an authorized used engine oil drop-off centre or recycling centre to safely dispose of them.

Check your fluids

When you change your oil and oil filter, you should also check your fluids. Specifically, check your power steering, brake, and transmission fluids, your windshield washer fluid and your coolant. If their levels are low, top them up, and flush/replace them as recommended in your owner’s manual. Keep in mind that your power steering, brake and coolant systems are closed, so low fluid levels may indicate a leak.

Check your charging system

Cold temperatures can do a number on your battery, so now is a good time to have it tested. You should also check to make sure that your battery is securely mounted and that the connections are clean, tight, and corrosion-free. If your battery is more than five years old, you should consider having it replaced.

Check your lighting

Check all exterior and interior lighting to identify any problems. When your vehicle’s lighting is defective, other motorists cannot anticipate your next move on the road. This could potentially cause a serious accident.

Check your belts and hoses

Cold temperatures can harden and/or damage rubber, so it’s important to check your belts and hoses for damage. Check your hoses for hardening, softening, leaking, cracks, blistering, or other visual damage, and check your belts for looseness, cracks, frays, or glazing. If you have to replace one of your belts, you may also have to replace the tensioner and pulleys to keep the new belt from slipping.

Check your tyres

Your tyres are the only point of contact between you and the road, so it’s important to take care of them. Check the pressure of all your tyres (including the spare) monthly, and maintain the optimal pressure recommended in your owner’s manual. Check the tread for uneven or irregular wear and for cuts or bruises on the sidewalls. Rotate your tyres every 10,000 kilometres, and replace them if they are worn or damaged.

Make vehicle maintenance a priority this spring to protect yourself and prolong the lifespan of your vehicle.

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