Winter is finally over and travel and vacation season beckons! But nothing ruins a holiday tour or weekend road trip more than an unexpected vehicle problem. So to keep your warm weather road trips positive and enjoyable, here’s a few tips to keep things rolling smoothly.

What’s your car condition?

Canadian winters and our frost-heaved and pot-holed roads take their toll on even the best automobile. Many service shops, like our own customer-friendly service department offer spring and pre-vacation vehicle inspection specials. These services combine an engine oil and filter change with a complete vehicle inspection including tire rotation at a very competitive price. A written and prioritized report along with expert consultant advice delivers the high value of your peace of mind.

Keep it Clear.

One of the easiest and best ways to improve your driving safety is to replace the wiper blades. Ice and snow and frigid temperatures can wear and erode the rubber on the blades as well as loosening and weakening pivot points. Wiper blades should be replaced every 12-18 months on average. They can be replaced without tools in only seconds and there are dozens of how-to videos on-line to reveal the secret of how to release the blade’s retainer clip. Most retailers have replacement wiper charts to help you select the correct size or you can simply measure the blade’s rubber from tip to tip while it’s lying flat on the glass.

Take a Walk-Around.

Follow the lead of professional and commercial drivers and complete a walk-around check of your vehicle daily. Leave the exterior lights and hazard flashers on when you make your tour and check for burnt out lights as well as any loose or damaged body parts, fluid leaks, unsecured doors or lift-gates, anything hanging down or caught in the undercarriage and most importantly your tires. Tire pressures should be checked at every fuel fill-up unless your vehicle has an automated monitoring system. When checking tires, keep an eye out for uneven or excessive wear and rough or chopped tread edges.

Lend your Ear.

We’ve been driving for colder months sealed in a sound-proof cocoon with windows rolled up tightly and the heater turned up high. Now that the weather’s nicer, we can open the windows and get some fresh spring and summer air. Listen to what your car may be trying to tell you. New or unusual rattles, squeaks, hums, or grinding noises may be a sign of something minor or major. To help your service provider diagnose the problem, try to identify what area of the car the noise is coming from. Does it happen at idle or when the vehicle is moving? On corners or all the time? Sometimes it’s helpful to slowly drive by a building wall or solid barrier to let the noise bounce back for better identification.

Check Your Fluids.

Before any trip and at least once a month or so for regular commuting driving, pop the hood and check your vehicle’s vital fluids. Any dark discoloration of engine oil or transmission fluid may indicate it’s time for a change. Don’t forget brake fluid and engine coolant. Remember that the engine coolant level in your vehicle’s overflow reservoir will fluctuate depending on the engine’s temperature.

Keep it Stowed Securely.

When loading the gear and luggage for a vacation trip remember that in the event of a collision, anything loose inside the passenger compartment may become lethal projectiles. Stow only soft-sided luggage inside the cabin and reserve the trunk for harder heavier items. In the case of SUV’s and minivans, consider using cargo netting to keep things in place. Make sure anything lashed to the roof rack doesn’t exceed its weight limit (150 lb for most vehicles). Keep trailers on a maintenance schedule as well. Lights should be checked at every hook-up and it’s not going overboard to remove trailer light bulbs at the beginning of every season to clean up any socket corrosion and to check wiring for loose or frayed connections. Make sure safety chains are in good order and don’t drag on the ground.