This quick pre-trip inspection will help in reducing your chances of costly and potentially dangerous road trouble. Drive safe and enjoy your summer road trip!
Fix your windshield. In cities where sand and rocks are used on icy roads, motorists often end up with chips and cracks in their windshields. Although these may not appear like a big deal, any damage to your windshield can decrease the overall effectiveness of airbags, seatbelts, roof stability, and your personal safety in case of an accident. If your windshield has a crack, it is essential to have it repaired or replaced immediately.
Replace your wiper blades. If they’re torn or cracked your wiper blades won’t do you much good during unrelenting spring showers when visibility is reduced.
Lubricate your chassis parts. Many newer cars are “lubed-for-life,” but some still require regular chassis lubrication so check your owner’s manual. Replacement steering and suspension components may also require periodic lubrication.
Check your lighting. Check all exterior and interior lighting to identify any problems. When your vehicle’s lighting is defective, other motorists may not get the message that you intend to stop or turn. The end result might be disastrous.
Check your belts and hoses. Cold temperatures can harden and/or damage rubber, so it is essential 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 need to replace one of your belts, you may also need to replace the tensioner and pulleys to keep the new belt from slipping.
Check your tires. Your tires are the only point of contact between you and road, so it is essential to look after them. Check the pressure of all your tires (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 tires every 10,000 kilometers, and replace them if they are worn or damaged.
Check your fluids. When you change your oil and oil filter, you should also check your fluids. Check your power steering, brake, and transmission fluids; your windshield washer fluid; and your coolant. If the levels are low, top them up, and flush/replace them as recommended in your owner’s manual. Bear 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 may do a number on your battery, so now is a great time to have it tested. You should also check to ensure sure that your battery is securely mounted and that the connections are clean, tight, and corrosion free. If your battery is greater than five years old, you should consider having it replaced.
Change your oil and oil filter. Changing your oil and oil filter at the intervals recommended in your vehicle’s owner’s manual is among the best ways to keep the engine running trouble free. Neglecting to replace engine oil can lead to poor engine performance, higher fuel consumption as well as severe engine damage.
Check your filters. Your car has a variety of filters that are essential to its longevity and should be replaced regularly. Check your engine air filter, your cabin air filter, and your fuel filter for damage or clogging and replace them if necessary.
Make vehicle maintenance a priority this spring to protect yourself and prolong the life of your vehicle!
SEARCH FOR LEAKS
Summer can cause your vehicle to spring a leak. Temperature changes can cause hoses and components to expand and contract throughout your engine, which can cause a leak. Keep a keen eye on your car throughout the summer, and check underneath your vehicle for any leaks. Keep in mind, your air conditioner will collect condensation if you turn it on during a hot day– which’s totally normal! Search for oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and radiator fluid leaks.
SWAP OUT THOSE SNOW TIRES
If you have snow tires on your car still, it’s definitely time to swap them out. Your snow tires actually hinder the performance of your vehicle on dry summer roads, and driving on snow tires in summer conditions can actually burn through the tread on your tires. Why? Well, snow tires are usually outfitted with a softer rubber tread that’s designed to hold on to ice and snow. Normal tires have a tread that’s made from hard rubber that can handle hot, textured road surfaces. Remember, there’s a reason why winter tires are called winter tires.
THROW SOME ESSENTIALS IN THE TRUNK
You never know when your car is wanting to quit on you. So, it’s best to get prepared for catastrophe. Make sure to gather a few emergency supplies to keep your car mobile. At the minimum, keep some radiator fluid in your trunk (AKA coolant, AKA antifreeze). Ensure to purchase a jug that’s labeled 50/50 (this is premixed fluid), or, if you purchase concentrated coolant, keep a jug of water in the vehicle too. Keep in mind, you’ll need to mix the concentrated stuff before you pour it into your radiator. Also, take a moment to check your spare tire (if you have one!). Ensure that your tire is pressurized to the proper psi. The recommended psi should be located on the sidewall of the spare tire, the door sticker of your car, and/or the owner’s manual.
INSPECT YOUR BATTERY
Your battery may be in high demand throughout the summer. And you’ll wish to ensure that your battery is working as it should, otherwise you may be stuck getting a jump from a stranger. Your mechanic will have a voltage meter to ensure sure that your battery can hold a charge. You can also ensure that your battery leads aren’t corroded. If you have corroded connection points, you can clean them yourself (take caution, car batteries are dangerous!) or have your mechanic provide a scrub.
CAN YOU FEEL THE COOL?
How is your air conditioner performing? If your AC isn’t cutting it, you may have an issue with the fan (or fans) that pump air into your car, or you may have a problem with the air conditioner itself. You should have the ability to hear the fan when you turn your AC on. You may also have a loose hose which feeds cool air from your AC to the vents. Or you may have poor seals on your AC system.
CHANGE THE OIL
Your oil lubricates your engine, and it keeps your engine cool, as we mentioned before. Like your radiator fluid, your engine oil can collect contaminants in time. That’s why it’s necessary to have your oil changed regularly. Check your owner’s manual for recommendations for oil change frequency. For most vehicles, it’s best practice to have an oil change every three months or every 3,000 miles.
PREPARE YOUR RADIATOR
If oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle, your radiator fluid is, well, also the lifeblood of your vehicle. Both your engine oil and your radiator fluid work to keep your engine from overheating. Overheating an engine can cause irrevocable damage, and it’ll likely suffice damage to destroy your engine and total your car. So, take an easy step to protect your engine. Give your radiator a check. Have your radiator inspected, and have the fluid topped off or flushed. A radiator flush completely purges your radiator system of old fluid, which may contain rust and scale deposits, in addition to other contaminants.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON RADIATOR PROBLEMS?
Radiators protect your vehicle, so a problem may put your vehicle out of commission. Don’t drive your auto with an overheated engine; bear in mind the temperature gauge as you drive– do not let it reach the red portion of the gage. That said, there are a variety of issues that can cause your radiator to malfunction and your engine to overheat. Here’s our list.
Bad Hoses: If you have hoses that are leaking or kinked, your radiator may overheat. Low levels of fluid will cause a temperature spike, and reduced flow will do the same. Again, this is a relatively inexpensive repair. You may have the ability to see kinked or leaky hoses. Have a look at dripping radiator fluid if you suspect that you have a bad hose. You may also notice an odor and steam if your fluid is leaking onto the engine.
Cracked Radiator: If your radiator has cracked, you’ll have to replace it. This is a more expensive fix since the entire radiator will have to be removed, replaced, and installed. A cracked radiator will also leak, which will cause overheating. You may see steam and smell radiator fluid once your radiator cracks.
Bad Temperature Gage: Your temperature gauge should be accurate. If you have a gage that doesn’t show any heat in the engine (after running the engine for 10 minutes), it’s likely that your temperature gauge is broken. Your gage may also get stuck showing a high temperature. Regardless, you’ll have to fix the gage to ensure that you can monitor your engine temperature in the future. Take your vehicle to your mechanic for a replacement; this is a relatively inexpensive fix.
Fluid Obstructions: Whether brought on by particles or pinched pipes, an obstruction within your radiator line can damage your pump and cause the coolant to seize. Your engine can release various particles as it runs, and these particles can make your radiator fluid more viscous. Eventually, with enough build-up, your radiator can malfunction and cannot cool your engine.
Bubbles in the Line: A radiator line should be without bubbles. Air actually reduces the efficiency of your radiator. You may need to have your radiator line bled if you have air pockets throughout the line. This procedure is not expensive.
Bad Fan: Your radiator depends on a fan to pull air through your radiator fins (which cool the fluid). If you have a broken fan, your vehicle is more prone to overheat. You may notice that your vehicle overheats while idling, yet it remains cool when you reach higher speeds (since the airflow triggered by these speeds suffices to cool the radiator fluid). The cost of replacing a radiator fan corresponds to the cost of replacing a broken water pump.
Broken Water Pump: If your pump isn’t working, the fluid won’t flow as needed. Instead, cool antifreeze will remain in the radiator, while hot antifreeze remains in the engine. Once more, your engine will overheat. Replacing a broken water pump will usually cost between 300 and 750 dollars, because of the amount of labor necessary to remove and replace the pump.
WHAT IS A RADIATOR FLUSH?
Your radiator is full of fluid, called antifreeze or radiator fluid, which aids in cooling your vehicle’s engine. The coolant cycles through the radiator and engine. When heated fluid reaches the radiator, it cools off, and as it moves through the engine, it heats up again and the cycle continues. Gradually, radiator fluid breaks down, which means that it loses its cooling capability. Fortunately, vehicles can operate on the same radiator fluid for many years at a time, and for thousands of miles.
Preparation is a key to handling the harsh summer heat. Following these simple tips will help your vehicle to perform its best this summer. Not only will you and your vehicle be better prepared to survive the heat, but you’ll also take advantage of your summer by enjoying the freedom that a well-cared-for car can offer.
While their presence can’t be avoided there are a few things you may do that can help your car make it through this unofficial season unharmed.
How do you know you’ve damaged your vehicle?
Potholes are an inevitable aspect of living in a multi-season environment in which the majority of Canada experiences. For instance, Toronto repairs typically 200,000 potholes a year. Cities with warmer annual temperatures like Vancouver repair typically 32,000 potholes a year. Spring is usually when we see our first crop of these lovely hazards but sometimes they appear sooner especially during milder winters.