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Vehicle Maintenance: Summer Edition

As another change of season approaches, so should another maintenance check-in. You might be thinking “But I JUST did my spring tune up, do I really need to read this?” And the answer is - of course you do! Your attention needs to shift to different parts and functions of your vehicle depending on the season’s demands.

You could keep many of these checklist items limited to one annual maintenance check-in, but that tends to be costly and result in you inadvertently driving an unsafe vehicle if there’s an underlying problem that goes missed in the 12 months in between. Keep your vehicle in top-notch condition and keep yourself safe out there!

Coolant & Fluids

As temperatures rise and you bring out the short shorts, remember that your vehicle is feeling the heat too! Be sure to check the amount of coolant fluid you have at the beginning of the season, and always check the fluid when your engine is cold. While you’re at it, take a look at the state your hoses are in keeping your eyes peeled for any leaks. This is easy to do by checking the hose joints and connection points, with the engine’s connection point being of utmost importance.

Believe it or not, your vehicle’s other fluids also keep heat away from its main components so don’t forget to have a look at the motor oil, transmission, brake, and power steering fluids and top them up as needed. In addition to checking the amount of fluid that you have, you should also be checking the colour of the fluid. Engine oil shouldn’t be too dark or black (unless you have a diesel engine) and if it is, that means that an oil change is due. Transmission fluid also turns to a dark brown when it needs to be replaced. The fluid starts out as a bright red and as long as it isn’t a dark brown, you don’t need to take any action!

Bonus: when the engine is cool (ie. your vehicle is not running) squeeze the coolant hoses to check firmness. They should be solid, not flimsy or squishy.

Air Conditioning

You may not mind any air conditioning problems during the winter, and even during early spring and summer days, but once those peak temperatures hit you’re going to wish you had dealt with it earlier. If your air conditioning isn’t working it could mean that you’ve sprung a Freon leak somewhere and that isn’t good for the environment. Have your nearest mechanic check and fix the leak before opting for a Freon refill. In some cases, leak-sealing products from hardware and hobbyist stores like Canadian Tire can help in a pinch as well.


With an increase in temperature comes an increase in bugs and if you do any highway driving, you know how quickly your windshield can become a bug graveyard. Throw in some summer storms and muddy roads - all legitimate reasons to make sure you have a supply of summer washer fluid and quality wiper blades. Streak-free summer-grade windshield washer fluid is formulated with extra suds, meaning that the bug graveyard will be washed away with ease. Remember to also replace your wiper blades, if you didn’t replace them during your spring maintenance check. Wiper blades should be replaced every six months! If you hate fidgeting with new wiper installs, ask if you can add this on to your next oil change appointment or have the dealership do it (some will do it for free during regular maintenance appointments).


You might think that battery issues are more likely in cold weather, but summer heat can also be a problem due to evaporation in high temperatures. Paired with vibration, your battery’s internal components could be at risk of breakdown and if not attended to, this could all result in complete battery failure. To avoid this, check that your battery is securely mounted to minimize vibration as much as possible, and its ports are free of corrosion. If your battery is older than three years, it’s always a good idea to have it checked by a professional.


First things first, if you have a set of winter tires, they really shouldn’t be on your vehicle while you’re reading this. As soon as summer hits, winter tires begin to wear out incredibly fast because their tread is meant for wet, and/or snow-covered roads. When roads dry out and heat up, the rubber on your winter tires begins to degrade very quickly, breaking down the tread that gives you the grip you need in the winter. Once you put your summer tires on, ensure that they are all inflated to the appropriate levels listed in your vehicle’s manual versus the tire model’s imprinted pressure levels which are not necessarily specific to the make and model of your vehicle.

If you’re running all-season tires year round, this may be a good time to schedule a tire rotation. Rotating your tires ensures even wear and can prevent alignment concerns, like your car pulling slightly in one direction. Under-inflated tires can cause your tires to overheat and increase the risk of a tire blowout occurring putting both you and other drivers in extreme danger so check your tire pressure regularly and check them while the tires are cool for the most accurate measurement!

Air Filters

A whole bunch of dirt and debris can clog up your air filter throughout the fall and spring seasons so summer is a great time to have a look and replace them before dead leaves start falling on your vehicle again. Newer models may have pollen/cabin filtration systems, so you may as well take a peek and replace those too if needed.

Emergency Kit

If you don’t have one, summer is a perfect time to get one started since we all tend to do a little more recreational and long-distance driving during this season. Some emergency kit basics are jumper cables, flashlights (and extra batteries), road flares, water, non-perishable foods, hand tools, blankets, and a first aid kit. Packing it with an extra phone charger and battery pack is always a good idea too to tackle both boredom and safety concerns.



Wash away the winter grime and salt to prevent rusting. It’s recommended to an exterior wash every couple of weeks, and this change of season is a great time to give your vehicle a deep clean and maybe even bring out the wax for a good polish! We have a full breakdown of how to clean your car here, which is a great resource for any time of the year.


Check all interior and exterior lights, making sure that none of them are burnt out or dull. If you have any headlights, tail lights, or signal lights that are burnt out, you could wind up with a costly ticket if you are pulled over. You should also make sure that the plastic casings for these lights are clean and clear. If you find they have a glaze or clouding on them, and that doesn’t seem to dissipate with a good wash, you may need to use something a bit more abrasive. You can get cleaning kits specifically designed for this, or you can do a DIY job with baking soda and vinegar, or even toothpaste!


Whether you use your vehicle every day to commute or every once in a while for a road trip getaway, they are always there for us. In return we need to look after them, inside and out, and on a regular basis. This summer, when you’re stuck at home looking for something to do, pull your car out and give it a full inspection to make sure it’s ready to roll!

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