Coming out of the winter months: how to prepare your car

FERGUS – As car owners make their way out of winter and into the warmer months, a local car dealership has some tips to ensure their car is summer ready. 

Addressing the consequences of cold temperatures, icy conditions, road salt and sand before they become serious issues is a reality many car owners face.

Melita Auto Sales, located at 8050 Wellington Road 18 in Fergus, has some advice on the basic issues car owners face this time of year and how they can potentially be avoided.

“For us, we tell most of our customers, especially this winter, because it’s been such a hard winter, our biggest concern would be suspension components with the potholes that are starting to come out now,” owner Peter Serra explained. 

Potholes aren’t a car owner’s only problem, however. 

Serra said it’s important to get the brakes serviced due to the salt and sand exposure to the car. 

He also recommends checking the battery.

“It has to perform any cold starts and, actually, the summer heat is very hard on batteries,” he explained. 

“So we want to make sure their batteries are ready for that after going through a winter.”

Serra said he also offers detailing, with a focus on the interior of the car.

“We find mainly the driver side covered in salt [and] sand,” he said. “All that is very hard on the carpet.”

He encourages car owners to get their interior cleaned.

“Then if they choose to go that route, then we discuss with them the paint because road chemicals are very hard on paint,” he explained. 

“So we’ll take the car, compound it to get all the oxidization off the paint, the road chemicals off the paint and then use a very good wax to protect it against the summer sun.”

Harsh winter 

For car owners, Serra said this winter has been one of the toughest he’s seen over the last 10 years with colder temperatures. 

The fluctuation in temperatures has also been a concern, he explained, as it leads to roads coated in salt and sand.

“We’ve seen a lot of our customers’ cars where the carpet is just white,” he said of the impact of the amount of salt on the road. 

“Most people don’t seem to vacuum the carpets in the winter, which I understand I guess it’s cold and full of slush,” he said. 

“So those are the kind of the things that we focus on.”

Another important part of spring maintenance, Serra added, is encouraging people to switch out their winter tires. 

This also includes checking the tires to make sure they’re balanced, and that they have enough tread to get them through the summer, he explained. 

However, with the uncertainty of the spring weather, Serra said the shop hasn’t gotten into tire changeovers yet. 

“We’d probably discourage people to change I would say until at least the middle of April,” he said. 

Opting into spring maintenance 

He noted customers will often opt into the spring maintenance once the shop recommends it to them.

“Because cars are so expensive these days it’s just going to protect their investment,” he explained. 

“It’ll save breakdowns in the summer, they won’t be stranded on the side of the road and it just helps their car to last longer.”

Given rising car costs, Serra said measures like spring maintenance are very important.

“It’s just a little preventative maintenance to extend the car’s life and you also want it to look nice, especially in the summer,” he said. 

For those looking to take their car in for spring maintenance, Serra recommends getting an oil change and cleanup. 

But just having it inspected is the big thing, he said, especially after going through a tough winter. 

He noted most garages will do the inspection for free during an oil change. 

“We would go over the car, give it an inspection and point out to the owner what we think they should do to get it ready for summer,” he explained. 

Avoiding mishaps

As for trying to avoid mishaps that may lead to further maintenance around this time of year, Serra noted sometimes poor road conditions like potholes are hard to avoid. 

“There’s a car in front of you and by the time they go over it and you come to it, you don’t have enough time to steer around it,” he said. “But that’s a big concern, because there seem to be a lot of them in town this year.”

Heading into pothole season may be an issue for drivers, Serra said. 

“It will be until the temperature settles, and the frost comes up and then the town patches them all.”