Now that Canada is showing the first signs of warm weather after a long winter’s nap, getting your vehicle prepared for spring consists of more than just putting your snowbrush and ice scraper away. If you want your pride and joy to last for years and minimize the amount of time spent in the shop, follow these essential car care tips that can be done by you or a professional, depending on your level of comfort.
Andrew Michael, owner of Michael Automotive Paint & Design in Barrie, Ont., has been fixing other people’s paint problems for years, has restored all manner of vintage British automobiles, and also races an early-’80s Mazda RX-7 that’s too wild for the snow, so it sits in storage all winter.
Michael’s first suggestion to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape is to give its paint the spa treatment.
“Road tar, environmental pollutants, and all the dirt and grime acquired in the daily drive needs to be removed from your paint, and the surface polished to resist the accumulation of new grime, corrosion or rust,” he said.
“While newer paint finishes tend to resist fading and will maintain their shine far better than those of the past, the springtime polish is still not to be overlooked. Most detail shops offer this service that generally consists of a multi-stage system of thoroughly cleaning, compounding and finally polishing and sealing the paint to its original condition.”
Also, aluminum wheels should be cleaned in a similar manner to remove all that caked-on brake dust and road slurry, and run your hands over them to check for any harm inflicted during pothole season.
If you suspect one of the wheels might be bent, depending on the severity, it’s possible to get them fixed or straightened for a nominal fee. Otherwise, shelling out bucks for a replacement might be necessary.
If you’ve been using your ride daily throughout the harsh winter months, your best friend should be a pressure washer.
While giving your car’s exterior a good wash and close inspection for damage is obvious, try to get as far underneath as you can, getting out at all the salt, sand and crud that’s collected there in the last few months.
However, do not be tempted to do the same under your car’s hood as getting water in places where it wasn’t designed to be can be extremely expensive to repair.
When it comes to mechanical issues, the most obvious — besides the ubiquitous oil change — is to swap your winter tires to your all-season or summer-only rubber.
Beyond that, having inspections done on your cooling and electrical charging systems while at your local garage can prevent surprises.
“While it might have performed well throughout the winter, summertime heat can demand extreme duty from your cooling system,” Michael warns. “Many roadside boil-overs can be avoided with a simple check at the shop.”
Finally, taking care of the interior will pay off for both your peace of mind and your nose!
“Six months of slushy, muddy, salty boots dripping all over your carpeting can make it look like the floor of a hen house with the farmer on vacation,” Michael said. “Though manufacturers go to lengths to protect the floors from this corrosive cocktail, removing the dampness will aide in this and keep your vehicle smelling fresh. Steam cleaning can be done at most detail shops and will extend the look and life of your carpeting.”