Spring into vehicle maintenance: BCAA's spring car care checklist

BURNABY, BC, March 19 /CNW/ - You've made it through another season of cold, slush and salt. And as you turn your thoughts to longer days and outdoor activities, remember to give some thought to your car, which has also been through a lot this winter. Now's the time to "spring" into some cleaning and maintenance checks. Follow BCAA's spring car care checklist to ensure you're ready to roll:

Start from the inside out: A good place to start is the interior of the car. Pull up all the floor mats and give the floors and seats a good vacuuming to remove grit and salt. Check for dampness on the carpets and give them time to dry out thoroughly. Also use a cloth and vinyl cleaner to clean all plastic and vinyl surfaces.

Do a walk around: After taking a beating all winter, the outside also needs close inspection. Take a walk around to check that all the lights are working. Next, take a closer look at the windshield wipers to see if there is any deterioration. For those driving on salted roads, be sure to spray the underbody and underneath the rear and front bumpers to rinse away any build-up that may lead to erosion and rusting. Also, look for any parts that may have come loose on the bottom of your car. And remember, if your car is hot, don't touch the exhaust area until the car has been shut off for several hours.

Inspect windshield for chips and cracks: If your windshield has fallen victim to flying rocks and gravel, don't delay in getting it repaired. A small rock chip or "star" can be repaired if caught early. If a chip is left too long, it may expand into a full crack requiring a more costly windshield replacement. If a repair is possible, the cost is much less than a replacement deductible.

Top up the fluids: Now, lift up the hood to check all the fluid levels - and then consult your owner's manual, which provides instructions on fluid change intervals and locations of where to check. Make sure that any new oil or other fluid is the grade recommended by the manufacturer. Did you know that the correct mix of antifreeze will help prevent the engine from overheating during the summer months?

Inspect the belts: Look for any wear and tear, such as cracks or frayed edges. Belts should be tight and give no more than one to two centimetres. More than that and they may need to be replaced. Check the hoses to the radiator and heater, too, for leaks or cracks. You'll know the hoses are in good condition if they are firm, but not too hard. If they are too hard, or too spongy, show cracks or unusual bulges, then they should be replaced. Never open a hot radiator or radiator fluid reservoir!

Examine the battery: Take a wire brush to the terminals to remove any accumulated corrosion on the terminals and clean the cable ends with a solution of water and baking soda. Wipe off the top of the battery with a dry cloth. Always work in a well ventilated area and if you disconnect your battery hook up the positive cable first to avoid sparks.

Test the tread: If you have winter tires, switch back to your summers or all-seasons, unless you're planning to travel into areas where you could still encounter snow. You shouldn't run on winter tires longer than necessary as they will wear prematurely and not be as effective next winter. If you don't have winter tires, it's equally important to have all-season tires rotated. Front to rear rotation every 10,000 km to 15,000 km will help equalize tire wear, however it's wise to refer to your owner's manual for recommended rotation pattern and service intervals. Also turn to your owner's manual for the correct tire pressure for your car and ensure the tires are inflated to the recommended pressure.

Arrange a check-up: Take your car to a service facility and have a mechanic check the suspension, steering linkages, and brakes. Also, check the battery for proper levels and charge. This is also a good time to ensure your air-conditioning system is working to optimal efficiency for the heat of summer.

When it comes to preventative vehicle maintenance there are no shortcuts. Regular upkeep is the key. For more information on vehicle care, safety and maintenance, go to www.bcaa.com/cars.

The BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation also reminds drivers that thorough inspections and regular maintenance should be performed to help ensure vehicle safety. B.C. traffic collision statistics show that where vehicle condition is a factor in a collision, worn or defective tires are the most common problem.

BCAA is the largest organization of its kind in B.C., with over 100 years experience and gross annual sales of nearly $400 million from its membership, insurance and travel businesses. A BCAA Membership can be found in the wallets of over 780,000 British Columbians and in one-in-four B.C. households. For the past two years, BCAA has received the highest score in Canada for home insurance customer satisfaction in a J.D. Power and Associates study. And, for the past four years, BCAA has been named one of the 50 Best Employers in Canada by international HR consultants Hewitt Associates and the Globe & Mail's Report on Business magazine. To learn more about BCAA's products, services and member advocacy, visit www.bcaa.com. For more information on the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation visit www.tsf-bcaa.com.

SOURCE British Columbia Automobile Association

For further information: For further information: or to request an interview, please contact: Niela Melanio, Public Affairs Advisor, Tel: (604) 268-5342, Email: niela.melanio@bcaa.com


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