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May 3, 2022

5 min. read

After a long hibernation, it's time to take your summer wheels out of storage. Whether you have a fun convertible, a sports car or a vintage model, it can be a challenge to get your prized summer car back on the road.

Ryan Peterson, manager of automotive services at CAA South Central Ontario, offers 11 tips to get you started.

Survey the scene

Get down and look under the car for any obvious fluid leaks.

Look under the hood for animal nests, too.

Check for wear

Examine the hoses and belts to make sure there are no cracks or signs of fraying.

Test your charge

Check that battery terminals are free of corrosion as this can decrease your battery’s life and performance. Polish them with a little hot water, baking soda and a toothbrush if needed.

Do a walk-around

Check the sidewalls of your tires for cracks or damage and ensure they are inflated correctly.

To find your tires' proper inflation level, look for the sticker on your driver-side door. Use a tire pressure gauge to test them or have an auto technician do a check.

Peterson says rubber begins to harden after five to eight years, causing the tires to lose their grip, so it’s best to replace them at that point.

Start the engine

If it cranks slowly, there is a good chance your battery is nearing the end of its life. CAA can come and test your battery free of charge, if you’re a Member. They can replace your battery if you need a new one and properly dispose of your old one.

Let the car idle for two to three minutes to allow all of the fluids to circulate again before driving.

Check all the exterior and interior lights to make sure they’re working.

Circle the block

Go for a short ride with the windows down and the radio off. Listen for any new or unusual noises.

If your brakes are coated in a thin film of rust, you might feel pulsation and hear a grinding sound at first, but this should go away after a few minutes of driving.

Behind the wheel

Pay attention to the steering to see if the vehicle is pulling in one direction or another. This could be caused by flat spots on your tires, which should go away after the tires heat up. Or it could mean you need an alignment.

Go further afield

If everything checks out, take a longer drive and speed up to 80 km/h for 15 to 20 minutes. This allows the oil to fully lubricate the engine and loosen any deposits.

Give it a wash

Peterson recommends giving your vehicle a thorough wash, even if it’s been covered over the winter, to remove any caked-on dirt and grime.

Drain the tank

Burn off that old tank of gas before adding fresh fuel as it can—and will—go bad when it’s just sitting in a tank.

Before you put it away again in the fall, fill up the tank to prevent moisture from forming inside and to keep the seals from drying out. Add fuel stabilizer to stop the gas from deteriorating.

Bring it to a professional

Have your mechanic do a multi-point inspection and check the entire car to ensure it’s running smoothly.

Peterson also suggests a professional detail and a colour correction treatment when necessary. Fine scratches are buffed out of the clear coat then a protective ceramic coating is applied.

Make the time for these simple tasks to ensure you’ll have a season of worry-free drives.

Drive confidently

Speak with a CAA automotive expert for advice and service you can trust. From car insurance to mobile battery service to complete inspections at approved auto repair facilities, CAA has everything to get your ride ready for summer.

Image credit: sutteerug/iStock

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