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9 Essential Steps To Get Your Drive Ready for Spring

9 Essential Steps To Get Your Drive Ready for Spring

You and your car survived the Winter. The snow, the ice, and the salty roads are now a distant memory – or are they? Specks of white remain on the bottom and undercarriage of your car, reminding you of the slush and other road debris you encountered when the snow was on the ground. But just as crucial as getting your vehicle ready for winter is preparing it for when the snow melts.

Here are nine things you should do to help your car recover from winter and get it ready for spring.

1. Wash Your Car

The exterior of your car takes the brunt of the winter weather. Months of muck, sand and salt can cause significant problems, including rust and corrosion.

Erosion occurs when the salt from the road gets into your vehicle’s undercarriage to the exposed metal parts, even the sides of your car. Erosion can lead to rust, peeling paint, and pitting. To avoid erosion, you should rinse your car as often as possible and use a circular motion to remove the snow and ice to prevent scratching.

The actual wind does not necessarily cause wind damage as things in the wind cause it. Sand from the roadways can get caught up in the air, causing minute scratches to your car’s surface. Larger pieces of debris, like snow and ice from other vehicles and tree branches, can also damage your vehicle, and one way to extend the life of your car’s exterior is going through the car wash.

Pro Tips:

  • Go to a car wash that does a thorough undercarriage wash, or use a garden hose with as much pressure as possible. Salt builds up in crevices and hidden areas underneath, including the hood, the wheel wells and the bumpers.
  • Make sure to use soap that can scrub your tires.
  • If you do it yourself, make sure to add baking soda to the wash water if your car has a substantial salt buildup - this will help neutralize the salt and save your paint job.
  • When your car is all cleaned up, maybe even consider waxing it to protect your paint job and make it look even better!

2. Check Your Tires

Your tires do a lot for your car, and they experience a lot of strain during the winter months.

If you have all-season tires

While all-season tires are safe and reliable in most climates, they aren’t as flexible as snow tires. All-season tires stiffen in the cold, especially when temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 degrees Celsius). That can cause cracks and other damage. If you have been using all-season tires all winter, you will need to check the tread to make sure they aren’t too worn out. With ice, salt, and other debris in the road during heavy snows and melting, your tires may see significant wear.

If you have snow tires on

If you are in an area where you get a lot of snow and ice, odds are you have some snow tires on your car. As the weather warms up, you should consider swapping out your winter tires. Winter tires are made of softer rubber to help them adhere to the road in winter. As the weather warms up, they will wear out quickly, and they also have a longer stopping distance, which is dangerous in emergencies.

If you haven’t driven your car all winter

Even if you haven’t driven your car all winter, the cold air and ice can be rough on the air pressure in your tires. When your vehicle is not in use, your tires are prone to deteriorate, lose air pressure and develop flat spots. For instance, when your car is not in use, your tires may develop bubbles, especially in areas where the rubber has worn thin. Driving on a tire that has a bubble is dangerous - it could blow out on you.

Pro Tips:

  • Ensure your tires (including the spare!) are filled up to the manufacturer’s recommended air pressure. You can find the vehicle’s recommended tire pressure on your driver-side door jamb placard or in your owner’s manual.
  • Check for cracks, degraded thread, and anything that might lead to a blowout on the road.
  • Rotate the tires every 10-20,000 kilometres.
  • Check your wheel alignment.

Remember: safe tires mean safe driving – replace tires that look worn out. Skimping on new tires now could put you in danger down the road.

3. Replace Your Wiper Blades

Snow, sludge and ice can take a toll on your wiper blades in the winter. If your wipers are worn or cracked, or if you are starting to see them leave streaks on your windshield, it’s a good indicator that it’s time to replace them. Even if your blades look OK, replace them if they start to leave streaks on your windshield — some warning signs of wiper blades that are failing, including streaking, smearing, squeaking and skipping.

Pro Tips:

  • You can easily buy new wiper blades and put them on yourself.
  • Measure your wiper blades before purchasing new ones - you don’t want to end up with new wipers that don’t fit properly.
  • Did you know that there are windshield wiper blades that are more suited for wintertime?

4. Get Your Oil Changed

Many cars use thinner oil during the winter. Thinner oil flows more easily during cold weather and ensures that your car starts more easily. But as the weather warms up, it’s wise to have an oil change and use thicker oil. Even if your vehicle uses multi-viscosity oil, spring is a great time to change it. Winter is hard on engines, and the oil and filter become dirty. Changing the oil will ensure your engine runs well and lasts longer, which means less chance of a breakdown in the hottest days of summer.

Pro Tips:

  • Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s suggestions for oil change intervals and oil viscosity.
  • Make sure also to change the oil filter.
  • You can also do this yourself and save a few bucks, but be sure to dispose of your used oil carefully.
  • It's best to change your oil completely, but topping it off every once and a while will help too.

5. Check Other Fluids

Oil is not the only car fluid that needs your attention. There’s also power steering fluid, transmission fluid, brake fluid, windshield washer fluid and coolant. Luckily, all these fluids are relatively inexpensive and easy to change.

Like we mentioned earlier, many cars use thinner oil during the winter. When not replaced before winter with ones rated for low temperatures, other fluids can freeze within their reservoirs. Coolant and windshield washer fluid are two prime examples of this.

Pro Tips:

  • If the levels are low, top them up, and flush or replace them as recommended in your owner’s manual.
  • You can fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with plain old water, but the blue stuff at the auto parts store will do a better job of keeping your windshield clean.

6. Check Your Brakes

Ensure your brakes are working is crucial before driving off on a spring break road trip with the family. If your braking is rough and noisy, or if the “Brake Check” light on your dashboard is on, it’s time to get new brake pads.

Even if you do not notice any problems with your brakes, you should still have your brakes checked every six months, and spring is a perfect time because of all the salt and sand during the winter months.

Pro Tips:

  • Unless you 100% know what you’re doing, get a trusted mechanic to inspect and replace your brakes.

7. Make Sure the Air Conditioning is Working

Turn the air conditioning on high and see if it cools the car quickly. And if it’s not working, at least you can get it fixed before the blazing hot days of summer.

Pro Tips:

  • You should test your air conditioner by running it for about 10-15 minutes every month, even in winter. Running the system ensures it stays fresh and active.
  • Does your car smell funny after the winter? Perhaps it’s time to change the air filter inside your vehicle.

8. Swap Out Seasonal Emergency Gear

You probably won’t be needing the thermal blanket or the ice scraper anymore, but there are other emergency gear in your car that you should double-check on, such as the batteries in the flashlight, etc.

In your car, you should always have specific items, especially in Spring and Summertime emergencies. These things should include:

  • First Aid Kit
  • Sunblock
  • Jumper Cables
  • Small Toolkit
  • Solar-powered phone charger
  • Reflective blanket
  • Roadside flares
  • Snacks

9. Check Your Dash Cam

Clean the Dash Camera Lens

While it isn’t hazardous, a dirty camera lens certainly makes it challenging to record clear images. Even in perfect daytime conditions, dirt and scratches can cause loss of contrast.

For best video recording results, i.e. no “blurry” and “foggy” videos or excessive sun glare, you should clean the camera lens regularly.

  1. If you live in a dusty environment, it’s a good idea to remove the dust from the lens using a soft brush. Wiping the lens with dust still on it could lead to scratches.
  2. Wipe the lens with a non-scratch lens cloth, optionally dampened with isopropyl alcohol.
  3. Make sure to allow the lens to air dry.
  4. You can also reduce glare on your dash cam by using a CPL filter. Make sure to rotate the filter after installation to get the angle just right.

Reformat the MicroSD Card

If the SD card has not been regularly formatted or the microSD card has not been changed when it is worn out, it can cause your dash cam to falter. This typically happens when you drive a lot or left your vehicle and dash cam in storage during the winter.

Because of how the dash cam writes and overwrites on the SD card (i.e. starting and stopping recordings as you turn your car on and off), it is essential to format the card in your dash cam periodically. Partial files can clog up the card, resulting in performance issues or false memory full errors.

With that said, we recommend that you format the memory car at least once a month. This can be done via the on-screen menu on the dash cam, using the smartphone app, or via a desktop viewer.

Note that you will erase all existing data and information on the card when you format an SD card. So, if there’s any critical footage you need to save, you will need to back up the files first. If you have a Cloud-compatible dash cam (like the BlackVue DR900X or the Thinkware U1000) you can back up the files onto the Cloud first.

Upgrade the Dash Cam Firmware

Does your dash cam have the latest firmware? Don’t remember the last time you updated your dash cam’s firmware?

The truth is, not that many people are aware that they can update their dash cam’s firmware. Manufacturers iron out bugs, release fixes and introduce new features in new firmware versions - these are essentially free upgrades to enhance your dash cam’s performance.

We recommend checking for updates after you purchase a new dash cam, and then on a semi-regular basis, every few months or so after that.

If you’ve never checked your dash cam for a firmware update, then now is a good time to do so.

  1. First, check what version of firmware your dash cam is running. This information is found within your dash cam’s menu options.
  2. Next, check the manufacturer’s website for the latest firmware. (Tip: Check in the Support and Download section)
  3. Read the instructions very carefully before updating the firmware.

Getting the Latest Firmware

Safety Matters in Your Car

Safety is crucial for you, anyone in your vehicle with you, and others who share the road with your car. You are not the only person in the car equation. Many other factors come into play when you become a driver (in any season). What can you do to extend your safety even further?

Whether you are thinking of a solution for spring break safety or just trying to be more diligent on the roadway, a budget-friendly dash cam may be the solution you seek. You want your car to run at its best, so why not protect it with the best? We have many of yesterday’s models on Spring Clearance this month - models that might not be the latest but still very reliable and even more affordable now. These are great for adding safety and security to your vehicle, especially if you opt to trade in your car for a new one in the Spring!

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