Spring has sprung here in the Great White North and that means it’s time to get my 2004 Volvo XC90 2.5T ready for summer. But what exactly does that mean? For me it means changing the winter tires to the summer tires (which you can read about) but it also means a few other things that are under the hood and around the rest of the interior and exterior of the car. Read along as I take you through my summarization (Is that a word? It is now.) of tips to get your XC90 in shape for summer.
Clean Your XC90 Thoroughly.
If you live in a place where they use salt on the roads in winter, you know that cleaning your car is a top priority once winter is over. Leaving salty residue and road grime on your XC90 can damage paint (which can lead to rust), it looks nasty and the longer you leave it, the harder it can be to remove. The solution? Was the car thoroughly inside and out. Was the exterior with a good soap that is made for cars (no dish soap, please, for the love of all things that are Volvo) and follow up with a coat of wax if that’s your thing.
The paint on my 2004 XC90 has seen better days, but when I wash and wax it, it’s like a new car. For the interior, clean your floor mats, treat your leather seats, vacuum out and dirt and salt grime as best you can. There may be some spots on the carpet that need a little extra attention. A decent carpet cleaner will help. There’s a spot where I rest my left foot that is so far gone that I’ve given up on it. Next winter, I’ll get aftermarket car mats that cover the spot. It was to the point where water from my left boot was soaking into the carpet and pooling under the mat. I think that’s a good enough reason to get some nice aftermarket mats, don’t you? I also vacuum out the air vents throughout the SUV and upgrade my air freshener if needed.
Rotate the tires.
If it’s been a while since you rotated the tires, consider doing so. The font tires on the XC90 wear far faster than the rear, and it’s something that is often overlooked by owners – even me. If you can’t do it yourself, most shops will do it for a reasonable price. It’s not rocket science, just make sure the tires follow the right rotation pattern. Front-to-back and back-to-front for the 2004 XC90 – never from one side to the other. Once you’ve got your tires rotated, check the tire pressure. Inflate as needed. There’s a handy tire pressure guide on the inside of your fuel-filler door. You’re welcome. Unless you don’t have a fuel-filler door. In which case…sorry about your luck. While you’re rotating your tires, or if don’t rotate them at this time, make sure you inspect your tires for any missing chunks, uneven wear, foreign objects, etc. Better to find a fault in your tires now as opposed to on the highway, in traffic.
Check all the fluids.
If you put off changing your oil in the fall, do it now. Maybe it’s a bit ahead of schedule? Do it anyway. Better to do it a few weeks or miles early than to put it off and end up doing it really late. If you’ve never bought one, or if it’s been a while, replace the oil filler cap gasket. They wear out with constant bombardment of heat and cold and it’s a place where you may end up with a leak if the gasket doesn’t make a tight seal – especially if you have excessive blowby and/or a clogged PCV system. The gasket for the cap is cheap. Get one. And when you get a new filler cap gasket for your XC90, don’t forget to get some crush washers, too. You need a new one every time you change the oil. Ok, maybe you can get away with every other time, but they’re so cheap that you might as well just use a new one every time. It’s what we call cheap insurance.
Check your transmission fluid and coolant.
When was the last time it was changed? Has it EVER been changed? If not, do it. If you’ve got a 2004, you’re almost certainly in the 100,000 mile+ club and fluid in the Aisin-Warner 55-50 transmission is NOT a lifetime fluid. It burns and holds tiny metal particulate like any other fluid. The fresher your transmission fluid, the better it works. How’s your coolant level? Top it up if needed. I find coolant to be one of the most reasonably-priced fluids at the Volvo dealership. Get some. Dilute with distilled water using a 1:1 ratio. Read the instructions.
Test your air conditioning
Testing in spring won’t give you the most realizable results, as there won’t be a lot of heat to remove from the air, but it will give you a working/not-working result. Either it blows cold air or it doesn’t. You may not know the degree to which the air conditioning isn’t working but if you know it’s not working at all, you can get it fixed before the heat rolls in, depending on where you live.
Other fluids to check
Check your brake fluid level and color. Change if needed. Also, when was the last time your AWD/Haldex fluid was changed (along with a filter)? I’m willing to wager that most people have no idea when it was last changed, let alone the fact that it needs to be changed at all. Get on that. Wiper fluid. Your XC90 uses a lot of wiper fluid because it likes to clean your headlights whether you like it or not. Top off with seasonally-appropriate fluid. Keep some in the car too if you go on long trips, or if you tend to use it a lot.
Wiper blades. Get new ones.
Don’t need them? Get some anyway. My advice: Buy a Genuine Volvo set from FCP Euro. They come with a lifetime promise. So when they wear out, you send them back for a refund and then get new ones. You’re essentially only paying for wiper blades one time. So you might as well get the best ones. There are some decent aftermarket blades out there, but you have to be a freaking engineer to put them on. The GV wiper blades go on easy every time. And that driver-side one has that really cool spoiler thing that increases my fuel economy by at least 0.00000001 MPG*. Worth it right? Don’t forget the back blade too. If you’re too cheap to get new blades, clean your old ones with some soap and water and follow up with some isopropyl alcohol to remove any grime and dirt from them.
Inspect the brakes on your XC90
Rotors wearing down? Pads ready to give up? Replace them with quality parts. I won’t tell you where to buy them or what brand to buy for your Volvo, but make sure they are quality brake parts. Personally, I buy Ate brand rotors and pads (and hardware too – which is often overlooked). Sure I could jump into the lifetime promise game at FCP Euro and get pads from them, but they don’t sell Ate (hint, hint guys…) and I’m really fond of Ate brakes for my Volvo. Anyway, brakes are a critical system on your car. Make sure they don’t just work, but that they work well.
Check your emergency gear. What I carry in the car for emergencies varies from summer to winter. In winter, I’ll have warm blankets, extra socks, and other things for warmth. In summer I make sure I’ve got some fresh water bottles, extra sunglasses, sunblock, spare flip flops, beach towel and a few other things. Also, make sure you have extra oil, ATF, coolant (pre-mixed, or carry distilled water to mix it) and if you have a fire extinguisher (which I highly suggest you do) check the level to ensure it’s still full. Lastly, take the snow brush out of your car. For real. It’s tacky to have to move it around while you get your picnic basket out. Also, get an aluminum water bottle and put a prancing moose sticker on it. Like this:
*Totally estimated. Could be more. Is likely less.