As warm weather begins to return to Ontario and the snow finally melts, many of us will soon be turning our minds to summer vacation and perhaps planning road trips to cottages or other out-of-town destinations. Regardless of how much or how little you expect to be driving this summer, after a long harsh winter your vehicle will need a good once-over to ensure it is ready for new weather conditions. You can take some very simple steps on your own to ensure the basic maintenance of your vehicle, but you should also consider having a qualified mechanic perform a spring/summer checkup. Here are some items to review in order to enjoy comfortable and safe travels this coming summer.
Test those tires
If you followed my earlier recommendation and installed winter tires, they must obviously be switched over again. While winter tires are designed to operate at low temperatures, summer tires have different tread patterns to ensure a better grip on wet and warm roadways. Make sure your summer tires are inspected for wear and damage before they are installed and that they are properly inflated. If you plan to use all-season tires throughout the year, be sure they are thoroughly inspected and that the tire pressure is checked. Your mechanic should also rotate and balance your vehicle’s tires according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. At a minimum, you should consider rotating and balancing the tires every time you change them over, and with the change of seasons from winter to summer to winter.
Cool ride ahead
We take air-conditioning for granted in our cars. But it should be checked to ensure it’s functioning correctly. Strange noises or odors are an indication of a problem that needs to be addressed. Even without those sounds and smells, a qualified auto mechanic should thoroughly inspect the system to ensure it’s running optimally prior to the onset of hot summer weather. It may need to be cleaned, a leak may need to be fixed, or the system may simply need a fluid top up.
Here’s to a clear view
After a long winter there may be cracks or pock marks in your windshield or other windows caused by falling ice or debris that is kicked up by other vehicles. Chips and cracks can interfere with a driver’s view, but they can also pose a significant safety risk in the event of an accident. Many drivers may not know that a windshield is a structural element of a vehicle’s crash safety system and is designed to direct the energy of a collision into the chassis. Even the smallest crack or pock mark can expand, weakening the structural strength of the glass, and reducing the effectiveness of the vehicle’s air bags and other safety systems. Always have your windshield repaired by a qualified windshield specialist.
Ice buildup in your windshield is another potential problem, causing the wiper blades to deteriorate. So be sure to check – and periodically change – those blades. You might consider keeping a set of spare wiper blades in your trunk in the event your wipers are damaged while you’re travelling. Of course, remember to top up your windshield washer reservoir with seasonally-formulated fluid that will help clear bug residue and allow rainwater to bead more easily.
Change is in the air
Having a motor that runs efficiently is critical to the safe and comfortable operation of your vehicle. Have the battery checked to ensure efficient contact connections, and change your oil. Check all coolant and liquid levels in the vehicle (including air conditioner, radiator and brake fluids) and top them up as needed. Check all hoses and belts for proper connections and signs of wear and tear.
It is always a good idea to have an emergency kit in your trunk. While you may already have one for winter that includes things like booster cables, a medical emergency kit and flashlights, you should consider adding some extra windshield wiper fluid, towels, sun hats and a tire-pressurizing kit in the event you ever get a flat. While you’re inspecting your emergency supplies, you should ensure that you have all necessary parts for your tire jack and that your spare tire (if you have one) is properly inflated.
No matter how many precautions you take, however, you should always keep an eye on the warning lights and fluid levels. Should any problems arise, visit a reputable garage to have them dealt with immediately.
Summer driving will be that much more pleasurable when you feel confident that your vehicle is operating safely and comfortably for those long road trips or short weekend getaways. Wishing you a wonderful summer and safe driving!
At Howie, Sacks & Henry we represent all manner of accident victims, including those who have suffered injury at the hands of negligent operators of automobiles and trucks. If you or a loved one have been the victim of an accident or injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident, please contact Michael Henry at 416-361-0889 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.