Winter can be especially tough on vehicles, with freezing temperatures, salt and increased road grit, and damaged roads all wreaking havoc on vital components throughout your vehicle. But the good news is that warmer temperatures are on their way and summer road trips are just around the corner. That’s why now is the perfect time to shake off winter and ensure your vehicle is safe and road trip ready by giving some spring TLC to these important areas of your vehicle.
For anyone who has turned the key and heard clicking or nothing at all, you know how important it is to keep your car battery in tiptop shape. Cold weather alters the chemical reaction within your battery, causing it to produce less current and forcing it to work much harder to start your vehicle. And over the winter months, this can take its toll (particularly on older batteries) and either reduce the overall efficiency of your battery or destroy it all together. So before you take off on that next big adventure, have your battery checked by a professional or give it a go on your own using this guide to prevent getting stranded in an unplanned and unwelcomed location.
Vital Fluids & Hoses
Engine fluids are the lifeblood of your vehicle and can be compromised or made less efficient by fluctuations in temperature or damage to their hoses incurred over the winter season. Spring is the ideal time to check your hoses, engine oil, antifreeze/coolant, power steering, and transmission fluids to ensure they’re all topped up and in running order. If you’re feeling handy, check out our blog on basic vehicle maintenance to see how to perform some of these checks yourself.
Tires & Alignment
The cold months are particularly cruel to your tires, wheels and alignment, as large potholes and other winter road obstacles can result in wheel misalignments that cause poor ride performance and uneven wear to your tires. If you’re taking your vehicle in to have your winter tires removed (once you’re sure the cold has gone for the season), that’s a good time to have a professional check your wheel alignment as well. If you don’t have winter tires, it’s even more important to have your tires and alignment checked for damage and appropriate tire pressure before doing any long-distance cruising.
Brakes, Shocks & Struts
Apart from the tires, your vehicle’s brakes, shocks and struts are the next likely components to incur damage over the winter. The salt, sand and de-icers used to keep you on the road during freezing temperatures also get spun up inside your wheels and undercarriage and can deteriorate brake and shock components, reducing performance and even causing dangerous fluid leaks that lead to extended braking distance and increased tire wear. If you’re having your tires swapped for spring, this is the perfect opportunity to have a professional inspect your entire undercarriage for wear and damage at the same time.
Windshield Wiper Blades & Wiper Fluids
These are probably the most underappreciated components of your vehicle, but also some of the most used and negatively impacted by winter weather. Ice, rain, snow and freezing temperatures can cause cracks and deterioration of the rubber on your wiper blades, and while it may not happen immediately, over time this wear can dramatically reduce their effectiveness and ultimately your view of the road. Fortunately, your wiper blades and fluid are some of the easiest components to access and inspect yourself. So, give your washer fluid a top-up and if you notice any damage to your wiper blades, swap them out ahead of the impending spring showers.
Whether you’re performing vehicle maintenance yourself or having someone else do it, ensure sure your car is being serviced according to its owner’s manual and recommended schedule.