Regular car maintenance in-between seasons is the key to a long-lasting vehicle. From tire checks to oil changes, here is a comprehensive spring-summer maintenance checklist.
There’s nothing better after a long cold and damp season than the smell of cherry blossoms, the sound of birds chirping and the sight of shiny sports, classic and luxury cars emerging from garage hibernation. Before you fire up the engine that has been idle for the last few months, here is a checklist of how to properly take your summer wheels out of storage.
When tucking a vehicle away for the winter, using a battery tender is ideal. This helps the state of charge stay at maximum as a continuous drain hurts overall battery life. If you haven’t, get access to one and charge to full before turning the key. Examine the cables and terminals as well for corrosion and oxidization — dip a small brush in water and baking soda to fix up any dirty parts to ensure a proper connection. For batteries that were unplugged or became completely discharged, the onboard infotainment system may need to be reset afterwards via a code found in paperwork included with the car or obtained from your dealer.
Regardless of whether the engine oil was changed prior to storage, a fresh replacement is recommended as condensation and contaminants may have formed while sitting. A new bottle of oil and filter is a small price to pay for the long-term health of the mill. At the same time, inspect the other fluids to see if anything else requires a top-up. When pumping gas for the first time, use a high-grade octane to smooth out the rough starts often accompanying the initial handful of cranks.
Pump up tires
Tire pressure will have slowly dropped over half a year, so an infusion of air is necessary to bring the psi back up to normal levels. Open the driver’s side door and see what the sticker in the doorjamb indicates is the appropriate pressure and fill accordingly, using a gauge to measure as you go along. Also perform a quick visual check for any irregularities like cracks, nails or bulges, and see if there’s enough tread to last through the summer and early fall.
Listen for noises
It’s normal for a little brake squeal to happen on the maiden drive, as surface rust on the rotor or drum is cleaned off during operation. If braking continues to cause unusual sounds, or you feel that something doesn’t feel right, schedule a service appointment right away.
Brand comparisons between tires are probably nearly as old as the tire business itself. However, as Michelin pointed out during a program last month, how often do you see a head-to-head between two sets of well-used rubber?
The answer is probably not very. Which is why last month the French manufacturer held a hands-on demonstration, titled The Truth About Worn Tires, at the Laurens Proving Grounds facility near its North American headquarters in South Carolina.
Bucking the trend
“This is not a normal event that Michelin puts on. Normally, we invite you out for a new product launch or a corporate announcement, but that’s not what this is about. We are just a voice in the industry here talking about something we’re very passionate about. And that’s safety,” said brand director Andy Koury.
“Typically when the industry is testing tires it’s standard to test what? New tires. Rarely do we test anything that’s worn, so it’s something we’re going to highlight at this event. It’s truly important as most consumers, after they buy the tire and leave the shop, they’re already driving on worn tires.”
The demo consisted of two activities. The first: doing three laps around a deliberately wet section of the test track in crossovers all spec’d the same, but on four sets of tires — “Tire A” and Tire B (all branding was removed prior) in both new and worn condition, the latter simulated by artificially shaving the tread to 3/32nds.
Although we weren’t privy to the specific models yet, it was pretty clear from the get go A was the more capable of the two, being able to better hold a consistent line around the turns at speed than B. In both cases, unsurprisingly, the new versions performed best.
The next exercise proved to be most illuminating. This time we got behind the wheel of Toyota Camrys equipped with a similar setup and GPS tracking, except instead of lapping, we were to accelerate to 72 km/h an hour in a straight line, activate cruise control and then once entering a designated stop box — sprinkled in water of course as that is truly the best way to identify any hidden issues — slam on the brakes as hard as possible in order to measure stopping distance. Tire A worn took 8.5 metres further to come to a complete halt than when new, Tire B, 18.1 metres.
As Michelin explained, some tires are designed to wear better, keeping a proper contact patch (the section of rubber actually contacting the road surface) as well as the grooves and biting edges that help maintain traction in slick conditions. This helps drivers to squeeze out more usable life from a set. As it turns out, Tire A was a Michelin passenger tire, and B a Goodyear equivalent.
When it does come time to replace your tires, did you know dealerships offer competitive pricing and a broad selection? We asked Cameron Ma, service director at OpenRoad Lexus Port Moody, why customers should consider going this route.
What do you say to those who avoid going to the dealer for parts, such as tires, for fear of inflated pricing?
CM: This is a common misconception — in recent years, manufacturers have begun implementing “price matching” programs for tires, as they know consumers’ time is limited and if the dealership can provide value, people will do business there rather than driving all over town to save a few dollars. We are also seeing this on other repair parts: brakes, air filters, belts, hoses etc.
What brands does OpenRoad carry?
CM: OpenRoad stores have access to multiple tire warehouses and distributors, so we are able to supply most major brands. There are some offshore or in-house makes that we may not be able to source, but for the various sizes and tire categories, we would be able to find a comparable example and even offer multiple options based on price and/or performance.
Any other advice?
CM: Your dealer knows your vehicle best. OpenRoad technicians have been trained specifically on your make and model and it’s systems, and work on those vehicles on a daily basis. When considering something as important as tires you want to ensure it’s done correctly. With new technology like TPMS (tire pressure monitoring) sensors, correct scanning tool are required to program, read and diagnose data from each sensor. Some independent repair facilities or tire stores may not have the capability to program and interface with the technology correctly.
Contact OpenRoad’s service and parts department to learn more.