There’s one spring ritual that every car owner should perform – even if it looks a little weird to the neighbours, says Ken Pickles, a service manager with Midas in Halifax. “Go to all four corners of your vehicle, put all your weight on it and give it a good bounce,” he says. “If you hear any strange noises or rattles it could mean a problem with shock absorbers or linkage.”

According to the Canadian Automobile Association, the average driver in North America spends $7,000 in vehicle-related expenses for every 28,000 kilometres of driving. Even the most mechanically illiterate among us can reduce those maintenance costs to a minimum by taking care of small problems before they become large.

A regular oil change is still the best way to keep a car running smoothly, but don’t get carried away, says Paul Davidson at Wonder Auto in Bayers Lake. “The rule used to be that you change your oil every 5,000 kilometres. With cars today it’s more like 8,000.” Also, spark plugs are more of a non-issue these days. “Unless you’re having some kind of a problem with performance, they should be good for 100,000 kilometres.”

The battery and oxygen sensor (which controls the mixture of oxygen and gas in a fuel injection system) should also be replaced at around 100,000 kilometres. If your car has a timing belt, check your manual to see when that needs to be replaced.

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