Tune up your vehicle properly for the new season

By Wheels.ca Wheels.ca

Apr 12, 2021 4 min. read

Article was updated a year ago

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Buds are blooming, birds are chirping and people are getting out to enjoy the ever-warmer sunshine. Yes – spring is here and it’s time to make sure your vehicle is tuned up and ready to drive safely and efficiently.

What to do? We got some advice from Fernand Vartanian, head of business development for Onlia, a digital provider of insurance.

Firstly, when is the best time to remove snow tires and why is it not a good idea to save money and use them all year?

“Winter tires are made of a special type of rubber that stays flexible in cold weather, specifically, below seven degrees centigrade,” says Vartanian. “Above seven degrees, winter tires will wear faster. Ultimately, it won’t end up being cost-effective, nor will you get the best traction in warmer weather. As Canadian weather can be unpredictable it’s best to wait until temperatures are consistently above seven degrees before swapping them for all seasons.”

It's also important not to forget what’s under the hood: springtime means taking care of that engine maintenance.

“The harsh winter weather can take its toll on your vehicle, inside and out. Be sure to check and change all fluids – especially your oil – and check the transmission,” advises Vartanian. “Lubricate the chassis, ideally every six months. Winter weather and road salt can damage belts, hoses and rubber so check to make sure all are in working order. Get your battery checked too as the weather can damage it.”

Investing a little more into your vehicle can pay off. Is it worth the extra money to use a good detailing service to remove salt and other winter stains from the interior?

“Yes. You should wash your car regularly in the winter. Roads are often heavily salted and caked-on salt is a recipe for rust,” says Vartanian. “Bi-weekly or weekly washes are recommended, as well as waxing and undercoat. That will help protect the undercarriage of your car from rust and corrosion from salt and other road/weather conditions.”

But you may plan to drive less in the spring because of potential lockdowns or lack of COVID-19 vaccinations. Should you negotiate a lower car insurance rate with your service provider? Vartanian advises caution.

“There’s a lot that goes into calculating your premium, and there typically isn’t much room for negotiation with providers. An option drivers do have is to change or reduce their coverage,” he says. “However, any changes should be thought about carefully, as they can result in consequences that outweigh the cost savings.”

However, if you’re looking for ways to lower your premium, you have a few different options, according to Vartanian. You can increase your deductible, which lowers your monthly payments, remove optional coverages and lower your daily driven kilometres.

But before you make any changes to your policy, it’s important to think about the consequences. Removing coverages can leave you at risk if something unexpected happens. For instance, you might not be covered if a shelf in your garage falls onto your car, or if you get into a minor accident when moving it on or off your driveway. If you’re changing your coverage temporarily, remember to change it back when your situation is different.

According to Onlia Sense™ data, March easily eclipsed February’s total road trips taken. And, as the weather continues to warm up, we can anticipate even further rises in road usage.

What items are good to pack in the trunk if you do plan for some long-distance spring break driving?

You should always have a car emergency kit available, including food, water, blanket, first aid kit, seat belt cutter, wind-up flashlight, lighter, waterproof matches, whistle, roadmaps (may be no cellphone signal), tow rope, jumper cables, fire extinguisher, warning light or road flares.

Finally, as workspaces start to open up again, does carpooling colleagues to work put you at risk legally or does standard insurance cover you?

“Basic coverage will offer protection for carpooling incidents and everyone in the vehicle is covered under the driver’s policy, whether they have insurance or not,” explains Vartanian. But if you charge your passengers you need to speak to your individual provider for details.

“Passengers must report any collision to their insurance provider (if they have car insurance). Their individual provider will then advise whether to submit a claim with them or through the driver’s policy,” he says. Coverages that come into play here are Accident Benefits or Liability.

“If you often carpool with a lot of people piling into your vehicle, we recommend upping your Liability coverage to $2 million.”

Follow those tips and you’ll be good-to-go for some spring driving.