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Car Care Tips to Help You Gear Up for Road Trip Season

By Karen Cho

Alberta road-trip season is quickly approaching, with warm-weather vehicles and motorcycles being dusted off and musty garages getting some well-deserved airing out.

Whether you’re taking the cover off that vintage Cadillac or just driving your trusty Toyota, don’t overlook giving your ride a tune-up. The last thing you want to have happen is for your engine to overheat, stall or break down. Here are a few car-care tips to help you avoid a costly repair this spring and summer.

Give your vehicle a good wash from top to bottom—that includes cleaning the tires, wheel wells and undercarriage, where grit and road salt may still be present. If you’re going to be using elbow grease for this task, do the tires last and use a separate washing mitt. If the car wash is your preferred option, stock up on your tokens.

Have you been rubbernecking it in order to see above that crack running the length of your windshield? It’s time to replace that glass. The same goes for the wiper blade that’s a little loose and, let’s be honest, didn’t do a great job clearing snow during the winter. Put on a new set of wipers so your view won’t be obstructed when spring showers inevitably fall. AMA members save on repairs at GlassMasters.

A clear view of auto-glass insurance

Your winter tires need to be switched out for all-season or summer tires. Winter tires are more expensive and tend to wear out faster as the weather warms: The tipping point is when temperatures consistently hit 7 C or above. While you’re down there, don’t forget to check your tires’ pressure and tread—the toonie test is useful for the latter. AMA members save on tires at Kal Tire.

Oil is your engine’s lifeblood. But over time, it wears out and dries up; not changing it regularly puts your engine at risk of failure—and potentially costly repairs. For similar reasons, also ensure your brake, power steering and cooling-system fluids are topped up. And why not add some more windshield washer fluid while you’re at it? AMA members save on services at Mr. Lube and Lube City.

A variety of hoses in your vehicle carry fluids and gasses to keep the engine running smoothly. Cracks and leaks in those hoses may lead to malfunctioning parts—which, again, can be costly to fix. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a pro to detect a hose problem: Just lift the hood and take a look inside every once in a while.

How to avoid potentially costly summer breakdowns

Your car has a number of filters—engine, cabin, fuel—that are important to its longevity. Dirty filters restrict airflow, which can cause your engine to overheat and lead to an unnecessary repair bill. It’s sometime easy to overlook replacing filters, but doing so is just as important as replacing any other worn part in your vehicle. Check out the various places where AMA members can save.

Finally, we can’t say enough about this, but: check your battery! A dying battery is not going to get you very far. AMA members in some parts of Alberta can take advantage of our mobile battery service. We’ll come to you to test your battery. And if it turns out you need a new battery, you can purchase one directly from the technician—the installation is on us!