TORONTO, April 17 /CNW/ - Everyone talks about winterizing cars, but did
you know that you should also prepare your car for summer?
Canadian winters can be especially harsh on your vehicle. All of that
snow, ice, road salt and sub-zero temperatures can really wreak havoc on your
car. Here are a few important maintenance tips that will not only keep your
vehicle running smoothly and help prevent roadside emergencies, but could also
save you hundreds of dollars in repair costs by avoiding problems before they
arise.Here's a list of six things that you can do to ensure that you're ready
for summer driving:
1) Clean the top of your battery: Did you know that dirt on a battery
can conduct electrical currents and drain the battery power even
while the car is parked? During the winter, all of that sand and salt
used on the roads for ice and snow removal gets up into your engine
compartment and onto your battery. To get the best service from your
battery this summer, make sure the top is clean and dry and that the
terminals and connections are clean and tight. This simple
maintenance tip can save you from having to replace a dead battery.
2) Check your air-conditioner: A marginally operating air-conditioner is
likely to fail in hot weather so checking your system before the warm
weather arrives can help prevent costly repairs. This is especially
important in older vehicles where fixing a broken air-conditioner can
cost hundreds of dollars. One of the reasons inoperative air-
conditioners can be so expensive to repair is that older systems use
R-12 refrigerant, which contains ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons.
For this reason, the Canadian government has banned the refill of all
vehicle air-conditioning units so in order to fix your unit - even if
you just have a small leak - you have to convert your air-conditioner
to run on alternative, more environmentally friendly refrigerant.
"Most people take their car's air conditioner for granted, until it
doesn't work anymore," said Annie Colman, Field Service Operations
Manager at Mazda Canada. "Having your air conditioner checked in the
spring is a relatively low cost service that can keep small problems
from becoming expensive ones."
3) Replace worn-out windshield wiper blades: During a long, cold winter,
your windshield wiper blades go through severe temperature
fluctuations and are put to the test removing ice and heavy snow from
your windshield. These conditions can crack or tear blades reducing
wiper effectiveness and visibility. So before the spring showers
arrive, make sure your wiper blades are in good working order.
4) Check tire pressure and tread wear: A worn tread can cause your tires
to lose contact with the pavement reducing braking and steering
performance. This loss of traction can also result in skidding and
hydroplaning, so it is essential to check your tire treads often,
especially before the spring rainy season when water builds up on the
Under inflation of tires reduces tread life, increases fuel
consumption and could result in tire damage or failure. Tires
normally lose a small amount of air pressure (up to 2 psi per month)
due to their permeability, so tire inflation pressure should be
checked at least once a month. According to Ralph Warner, Director of
Operations at The Rubber Association of Canada, "Under inflation of
just one tire by 8 psi can have the impact of consuming an additional
two week's worth of fuel per year!"
Changes in air temperature also cause changes in tire pressure, which
is especially significant given Canada's climate. Every 5 degrees C
change in temperature results in about 1 psi change in pressure.
Therefore a temperature increase of 15 degrees C could result in
approximately 3 psi over-inflation. This over-inflation can have an
adverse affect on your vehicle's handling such as steering and
stopping problems and increased wear on tires.
To find the correct tire inflation pressure for your tires, check the
vehicle placard, usually attached to the driver's door, door post,
fuel door or in the glove box. Alternately, you can check the vehicle
5) Check Fluids: The greatest cause of summer breakdowns is overheating,
which can be caused by low coolant and oil levels. Cars tend to use
more fluids in the winter, which can lead to depleted levels.
Checking your oil and coolant levels in the spring before
temperatures get too hot can save you the headache and cost of your
6) Underbody Maintenance: During the winter, road chemicals and salt
used for ice and snow removal collect on your vehicle's underbody. If
they're not removed, they can speed up the rusting and deterioration
of your vehicle's fuel lines, frame, floor pan and exhaust system. To
prevent corrosion, thoroughly flush the underbody and wheel housings
with lukewarm or cold water at the end of each winter. Pay special
attention to areas that hide mud and dirt such as the lower edges of
the doors and rocker panels, as it will do more harm than good to wet
down the road grime without removing it.For most repairs and maintenance, it's usually best to have a qualified
technician do the work. Taking your car back to an authorized dealership is
ideal as they know your car best and use genuine parts that are engineered
specifically for your vehicle.
So next time you're at your dealership, ask your service advisor if they
offer spring check-ups. Some automobile manufacturers include these services
as part of their regular maintenance schedule. "We know that Canadian winters
can be hard on your car with icy roads, cold temperatures, salt and road
chemicals," said Colman. "For this reason, Mazda Canada tailors its
maintenance schedules with these unique conditions in mind to ensure that our
customer's vehicles get the proper care and service."
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