Misalignment, low fluid levels, loose parts, rust—while these may not always be visible to us, these are just a few ways winter conditions take a toll on our cars. Taking your car in regularly for proper maintenance and repair, especially after winter will help ensure that it’s operating efficiently, maintains a good resale value and lasts longer. Ultimately, it will also help you save money and keep you and your family safe on the road.
To help you keep your car in top shape, BCAA Automotive Experts compiled a list of some must-do maintenance for your car once winter comes to a close.
Bonus tip: As part of your spring clean, don’t forget to double check your BCAA Membership plan to ensure you have the appropriate coverage for your current needs.
On the outside
1. Wash your car
Letting road salt and other dirt and grime stay on your vehicle for longer can cause corrosion and damage to your car. Here are a few winter car-washing tips:
- Be sure to clean the undercarriage which can often have road salt buildup.
- Do not wipe off the salt as the grains can scratch off the paint and cause other components to corrode.
- Check for any signs of rusting or corrosion and make sure all salt buildup has been cleaned from every exterior surface of your car. If you see any rust, bring your car into an automotive professional as leaving it untreated can lead to the rust spreading.
2. Check tire wear and pressure
Make sure you have the appropriate amount of tread on your tires with the very least being a little more than the minimum tread depth recommended by the manufacturer.
- Check that all four tires are wearing out evenly.
- Check the pressure of each tire as the pressure that might have been correct for colder months may need to be adjusted for warmer months.
- Look in your owner’s manual or inside the driver’s door, or check with the tire manufacturer for the recommended inflation pressure.
3. Only replace winter tires once all threat of snow and freezing temperatures are gone
Not all parts of BC are free of winter yet, so hold off on replacing your winter tires if there’s still a chance for snow or freezing temperatures in your region or if you plan to travel to mountain areas still covered in snow. While winter tires are legally required on most BC highway routes until April 1, now is a good time to book ahead for your tire change appointment. It’s important to avoid keeping winter tires on your car too long after winter conditions have passed so that those tires and their tread last longer and can be used again for more winter seasons.
4. Replace windshield wiper blades
These may be easy to forget until it’s too late and you’re in the middle of a rainfall and can’t see through your car window. Your wiper blades have been subjected to snow, rain, ice and salt spray so they may be pretty worn down.
- Replace your windshield wiper blades at least every spring and then again every fall, or any time they’ve become cracked or torn.
- When you see any streaking, that’s a sign they may need to be replaced.
On the inside
Regular basic maintenance helps you avoid costly repairs down the road and is the best way to save money and ensure you’re safe. Once winter conditions have come to a halt in your area, take your car to an automotive professional to have it checked.
1. Oil and fluids
Take your car to an automotive professional to have your engine oil and car fluids checked, such windshield washer, transmission and power steering fluids to ensure they’re at the appropriate levels.
2. Wheel alignment and suspension
Poor road conditions and potholes, which appear more frequently in the winter months and can be harsh on the tires and your car’s wheel alignment and suspension system. If you travel regularly on pot-hole riddled roads, having these checked is a must and important for safety.
The constant exposure to water from ice or snow, as well as road salt can really affect the brakes. Have them checked for any corrosion or wear. If you hear a squeaking, whistling or other sound when applying the brakes—don’t wait—have them checked as soon as possible. Those funny noises are sounds that brake-wear indicators make when your brakes are worn.
4. Hoses and belts
Cold temperatures can make rubber hoses and belts brittle and weak. Have these checked for any cracking or wear. Replace any hoses or belts that show damage.
Low and freezing temperatures slow down the battery chemical reaction which forces your battery to work harder. Have your car battery tested, and replace it if necessary. Learn more about our top tips for proper car battery care.
Get your car back in top shape
To help with post-winter car care and safety, BCAA Auto Service Centres provide a free 42-point inspection (includes a wheel alignment check, 4-tire rotation along with battery and fluid checks, and more) with any Tire Mount and Balance service or Oil Change Package. And bonus, BCAA Members save 10% on wheel alignments and get a free car wash!