Top 10 Winter Driving Tips For Canadian Roads: Be Prepared
As you shift into gear for winter driving conditions, here are 10 car care tips to keep your engine humming and your vehicle performance high when temperatures drop. It’s just one more way for you to drive protected and stay safe on the road.
- Use the “three Ps” for extra safety. Prepare for the winter season with regular maintenance checks. Protect yourself by buckling up and using correctly installed child safety seats. Prevent road accidents by being alert, slowing down and avoiding driving while tired.
- Check your antifreeze. Have your anti-freeze (coolant) checked for proper strength. It should work to -35 degrees C. Buy only ethylene glycol-based fluid with low freezing and high boiling points. Our Certigard technicians recommend a cooling system service every couple of years.
- Keep fluids fluid. Check your vehicle owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommended winter rating. Use the oil rated for your vehicle by the manufacturer. Keep in mind that special cold weather oils are available for arctic or alpine winter conditions. When it comes to wiper-washer fluids, keep your reservoir full of a solvent that is good to at least —10 degrees C. Make sure your transmission fluid is clean.
- See and be seen. Replace your windshield wipers, especially for night driving and encounters with rain, sleet and snow. Don’t forget the back windshield wiper! Make inspection of all belts and hoses part of your regular maintenance program. Cracked, frayed or worn rubber may not make it through the winter.
- Inspect where the rubber hits the road. Take a good look at your tire treads. Driving in colder conditions and on icy, slushy or snowy roads requires as much traction as your tires can deliver. Replace them if you see worn tread or the sidewall damaged and check tire pressure regularly. Better yet, have your technician install winter tires for added peace of mind.
- Get started on cold mornings. Winter driving requires more power from your battery so consider buying a stronger rated battery. Batteries lose performance as the temperature slides — so just as you need more cranking power, you also have less available power.
- Be ready for any emergency. Keep these must-have items in your trunk: heavy-duty jumper cables, a flashlight, emergency flares, a small shovel, a bag of sand, a blanket, gloves, heavy socks, winter boots and tire chains if you don’t have winter tires. Your local Petro-Canada station has good selection of emergency kits available for purchase or with Petro-Points™.
- Keep the gas running. Always maintain a full gas tank. This will help prevent gas lines from freezing. Remember, if you are unfortunate enough to be stranded this winter, your engine is your only source of heat.
- See where you’ve been! Clear the snow off your rearview door mirrors every time. Double-check your rear window defroster. If some of the heat-producing grid lines don’t work, they can be repaired and safe rearward visibility restored.
- Check the map and conditions. Allow plenty of time (check the weather and leave early), be familiar with the map and directions and let others know your planned route and estimated arrival time.
Follow these tips on winterizing your car and you’ll save time, trouble and money.
Andrei Zakhareuski is the founder of Find-a-driving-school.ca. He has been writing for beginner Canadian drivers for several years.
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