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In Ottawa, we have four very distinct seasons. And, while winter tends to get most of the attention, the other three are actually pretty incredible. Of course, if you own a vehicle in the National Capital Region, these well-defined seasons mean there is always something you need to be doing. The good news is, spring and summer preparations tend to be a little easier than getting ready for the winter chill. While winter prep is all about keeping you from sliding off the road. As we head towards milder days, the preparation is about keeping you moving. It’s about being ready for those long summer road trips, camping adventures, and cruising to the beach with the family.

Here are the things we recommend you keep in mind as part of your spring and summer automotive preparations.

Swapping out those Winter Tires

Let’s begin with the most obvious, switching your winter tires for the summer or all-season variety. If you live on the Ottawa side of the river, you can make that swap whenever you decide the roads are ready. For those over on the Gatineau side, you have to keep your winter tires on until March 15, by law. The general rule of thumb, though, is 7 degrees.

When the temperature starts to hover around this mark, it’s probably time to make the switch as your winter tires will be less responsive and generally begin to wear quicker. Of course, this being Ottawa, make sure the temperature has held steady for at least a week. You’ll also want to check the longterm forecast to make sure there’s not a late-season snowstorm hiding just out around the bend. If you’re unsure, talk to one of our tire experts. We pay close attention to seasonal shifts, and we’re always happy to make a recommendation.

A Fluid Check and Top-Up

After winter’s wear and tear, it’s a good idea to have all your fluids inspected and topped up where necessary. The summer heat brings its own set of challenges for your vehicle and making sure the five fluids are where they need to be will help keep your car ready to road trip at a moment’s notice. The brake system fluid, transmission fluid, coolant system fluid, suspension differential fluid, and power steering fluid should each be checked and changed when needed. For example, while many manufacturers suggest transmission fluid won’t need replacing until at least 160,000 kilometres.

We’ve found doing the swap at around 80,000 can have profound effects on the lifespan of your transmission and vehicle overall. And, when it comes to your brake fluid, a good flush can clean your system of all the winter impurities that have been picked up and ensure you still stop on a dime.

Battery Check and Cleaning

After an Ottawa winter, it’s always a good idea to have your car’s battery checked and cleaned. Over time your car battery becomes less reliable. And, while it’s probably better to be stuck waiting for a boost in the spring or summer than winter, it’s still not fun. Our specialists will make sure your battery has the charge needed to get you through the season and clean off any corrosion that may have built up over the last number of months. If it’s time for a replacement, our team can recommend one that will keep your car starting all summer long. 

Attention to Detailing

After an Ottawa winter, not only is your car covered in salt and grime, the filth has usually worked it’s way in pretty much everywhere. Unless your vehicle has been outfitted with WeatherTech FloorLiners, your carpets probably have a higher salt concentration than the Dead Sea. And, if you’re like most drivers, you didn’t spend any extra time in your cold car vacuuming up spilt cheerios or cleaning up coffee spills. So prepping your vehicle for the road trip season ahead is going to require some hardcore detailing.

Vacuuming is a good start, but depending on the state of your carpets, you may need a proper steam cleaning to get them back to their original state. Which you will thank yourself for doing when it comes time to sell the car. You’d be surprised how well-cared-for carpets and upholstery can help a vehicle maintain it’s resale value. It’s the sort of detail that indicates an owner who looked after their ride. After the carpets are crumb-free, it’s time to turn your attention to cleaning the dash. You want to use a cleaner that contains UV protection to keep the suns rays from doing any damage over our hot summer.

When the inside is back in good shape, the outside will also need some love and attention. Throughout the winter, salt and grime work their way into the underside of your vehicle. If left unchecked, they can erode the metals and speed up the overall breakdown of the car. You’ll want to be sure to get under and spray clean the various exposed parts. Following all of this, an engine shampoo is a great way to make sure your car is cleared of problematic salts and debris and ready for the next season.

Of course, engine shampooing is usually best left to the experts. If you have questions about cleaning your vehicle, a member of our detailing team would be happy to chat. Or if you would prefer to drop your car off and have it professionally cleaned, give us a call today, or learn more about our packages here.

A Solid Sunscreen

Over time, the elements take a toll on your car’s finish. The paint loses that lustre that made you fall in love with it in the first place. And, short of having it repainted, a solid summer wax is an excellent way to protect and restore the look of your vehicle. While it’s a smart idea to wax your car a few times a year, the summer provides the best opportunity to let it really set in and take effect. Of course, there are a few tips to make the best of your summer wax job. First, the evening is usually the best time to wax your vehicle.

Most waxes are recommended to be applied between 15 and 27 degrees celsius, and summer nights here tend to keep you in that range. It’s also a good idea to keep your car out of direct sunlight while you’re applying a wax coat. And, waxing your car in the evening means you can leave it overnight to dry. Whether you opt for a Carnauba or synthetic wax, both provide a razor-thin protective coating over your paint to protect it from the elements. As the summer heats up, this becomes critical in preventing your finish from fading, and with a little buff really brings back the shine.

If spending a summer evening waxing your car doesn’t sound like a relaxing time, the good news is that our detailing specialists love it. If you have questions about which type of wax to use for your car or would instead like to drop it off and have it done, give us a call.

Window Tinting

While technically something you only need to do once, a good window tint can help keep your car significantly cooler in the summer heat. Not to mention, it protects your vehicle interior from sun damage. If you want to learn more about having your windows tinted, be sure to check out our Guide to Window Tinting for everything you need to know. 

Windshield Wipers

Your wiper blades have about a six-month lifespan. However, depending on the severity of the Ottawa winter they’ve just faced, it might be shorter than that. Be sure you insect your them for excessive wear and tear, and if you find they are not delivering a clear windshield, get them replaced. 

Summer Emergency Kit

Everyone thinks about having a winter emergency kit, but the truth is, you can have a breakdown at any time of year. And, the summer propensity for long road trips, means you’ll likely be further from home if something does go wrong. We recommend stocking the following items in your car as part of your summer driving emergency kit.

Water. Hydration is essential, and especially an issue during the hottest months. Before you head out on a road trip, make sure you have enough on hand. It’s recommended that you stock about 4 litres per person riding in the car.

Reflective Roadside Triangles. If you have a breakdown, on the side of the road, you want to give other traffic as much warning as possible to provide you with space. Reflective triangles can be easily set up around your vehicle. Another great add-on is to have LED flares with them. 

Cellular Battery Charger. If you’re stuck on the side of a road, the next worst possible thing that could happen is for your cell phone to run out of power. You’ll want to be sure to keep an eye on the charge level of this battery pack at regular intervals. Setting a reminder on your phone is a great way to ensure you always keep it charged and never find yourself without a phone on the road.

Sunscreen. While getting caught in the elements seems a lot nicer in the summer than in an Ottawa winter, a sunburn doesn’t take long to happen and can be incredibly painful. Having a tube of SPF 30 in your emergency kit is a great addition.

Raingear. Getting soaked changing a tire is like adding insult to injury. If you find yourself on the side of the road in a downpour needing to swap out a flat, you will be so thankful for that single-use poncho you tossed in the kit. 

Jumper Cables. There is nothing like finding someone who can help you get your car boosted, only to realize that neither of you has cables. Better you have them handy and never need them.

First Aid Kit. Having necessary medical supplies, bandages, antiseptic, and swabs is always a good idea.

Small Tool Kit. While there are lots of problems that can’t be repaired on the side of the road, having a small tool kit to make modest adjustments may just get you out of a bind.

Flashlight. Breakdowns are rarely convenient and often happen at night, which makes changing a flat or checking the engine difficult. A flashlight and extra batteries should always be part of your emergency kit.

Snacks. Having a box of granola bars in your trunk will be a lifesaver if you find yourself stuck on the side of the road for hours waiting for a tow. If you have kids with you, it may be the only way to get out of it with your sanity.

Come in for an Inspection

If you want to ensure your vehicle is ready for everything spring and summer has to throw at it, bring it by for a comprehensive inspection. At Sipan Tire and Rims, our trusted experts will examine your car and determine what it needs to keep you safe on the roads for the seasons ahead.