BY ERIK J. MARTIN
PER A STUDY from DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc., the average age of
Canadian vehicles on the road is up from
7. 25 years in 1990 to over nine years today.
That’s both good news and bad news:
Yes, modern automobiles are built to last
longer, but typical cars have packed on a lot
of mileage. And that means they’re going to
need some extra TLC to remain running.
Routine car maintenance isn’t cheap.
According to Kristine D’Arbelles, spokes-
person for the Ottawa-based Canadian
Automobile Association (CAA) national
office, basic upkeep like tire and oil
changes can cost at least $500 a year. But
that’s money well invested, she says.
You don’t have to wait until your car’s
recommended service date to perform
some simple preventive maintenance of
your own. “Maintenance is often seen as
having your oil changed. But the reality is
that inspecting your vehicle by a professional trained to identify upcoming problems is really where the value comes in,”
says Ben Lalonde, president of Orléans
Autopro in Orléans, Ontario, and a
Our experts suggest taking the following simple DIY steps to keep your car roadworthy while saving you money.
Inspect your tires. Look for uneven
tread wear and embedded objects like nails
that could lead to leaks, the CAA advises.
Check tire pressure. “Do this when the
vehicle has been parked for at least three
hours,” recommends Costco member
George Iny, director of the Montreal-headquartered Automobile Protection
Association. If the tires are low, inflate
them to the manufacturer’s suggested PSI
(pounds per square inch) level (often
found on a sticker inside the driver’s door).
This can increase fuel efficiency by up to 4
per cent, notes D’Arbelles.
Check fluids. Pop the hood and, if it’s
accessible, inspect the engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, coolant, brake fluid and wiper fluid levels. Top
off the latter. If other fluid levels are low,
have a mechanic diagnose the problem.
Look and listen. Check to see if any
dashboard warning lights are on. “A yellow
indicator, like a check engine light, means
it needs attention soon. A red indicator,
like a brake warning light, means stop
driving and give it your immediate atten-
tion,” Iny says.
Listen for unexpected sounds such as
grinding, whirring or engine knocking
while the car is driving or idling, too. “Any
unusual noises should be checked out by an
expert,” Ken Gilmour, owner of Gilmour’s
Automotive Repair in Oshawa, Ontario,
tells The Connection.
Clean and wax your car. Experts advise
washing and hand-waxing your car every
three months or so to protect its finish.
Wash and wax in small areas, and begin at
the top and proceed downward.
Inspect all lights. This includes headlights, taillights, turn signals, side marker
lights, licence plate lights and interior
lights. Replace them only if you’re handy.
Maintain visibility. Install new front
and rear windshield wiper blades.
Safeguard your interior. Clean or
replace seat covers and floor mats (before
winter, swap out with rubber mats with
built-in slush drains).
Check filters. Inspect your engine air
filter and cabin air filter. Replace if dirty
or dusty or when recommended by the
Head to the shop and budget wisely
When it comes to more complex and
messy maintenance tasks, like seasonal
tire changeovers, coolant flushing, oil
changes and thorough inspections, it’s
best to leave it to the pros. “With the complexity of modern vehicles, it takes a
skilled technician to perform these services. Additionally, manufacturers require
proof of service to keep your car warranty
valid,” says Gilmour.
Lastly, don’t wait for the unexpected to
happen—both mechanically and financially. “Put money aside now in a savings
account to pay for future maintenance and
repairs,” says D’Arbelles.C
Freelance writer Erik J. Martin is a frequent
contributor to The Connection.
tips for your car
Costco warehouses and Costco.ca carry a
variety of items, including wiper blades,
motor oil, seat and floor mats, tires and
Tire Centre services. Costco.ca also offers
roadside assistance, simply enter “roadside
assistance” in the search box for more