Winter Driving Tips from Petro-Canada

Winter Driving Tips: Seasonal Driving

With ice, slush and poor visibility, winter driving in Canada has never been easy. Hone your driving skills and get the right seasonal equipment for your car and you’ll be navigating smoothly through the worst of winter weather.

  • Make sure your vehicle is winter ready.
  • Plan each trip. Check weather and travel conditions before you hit the road. Don’t take chances. Give yourself extra time for travel or wait until conditions improve.
  • Wear comfortable clothing so you are not restricted at the wheel. Pack warm clothing in case you need to get out of your car. Include mittens or gloves, boots, heavy socks and a hat.
  • Clear snow and ice from all windows, lights, mirrors and the roof of your car. Wait until you’ve completely defrosted the windows before driving.
  • Keep your gas tank full and never below half a tank. With quality winter gasoline formulations, chances of gas lines freezing are rare. But if you get stuck in a snowdrift, you’ll be able to keep the engine running longer.
  • Your windshield washer fluid reservoir should be full with fluid that works in the -40 degrees C range. Keep an extra jug in a plastic bag in the trunk.
  • Turn your vehicle’s full lighting system on in poor visibility.
  • Stay alert, reduce your speed and stay in control. Leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle ahead. There’s less tire friction on wet, slushy roads and it will take you longer to stop.
  • Know how to use your vehicle’s braking system in all weather and road conditions. For example, if your vehicle has an antilock brake system (ABS), your foot should remain firmly planted on the brake pedal while the ABS pumps the brakes and you can concentrate on steering to safety.
  • Know what to do if your vehicle starts to skid. Take your foot off the brake to decelerate and gain control of your vehicle. Step on the clutch or shift to neutral, look to where you want to go and steer in that direction.
  • Look ahead on the road and try to recognize hazards so you have enough time to respond. Slow down; avoid sudden turns of the wheel and sudden braking and accelerating. Sudden movements could cause you to skid. Be particularly careful when you approach shaded areas, bridges and overpasses. These sections of the road freeze sooner and stay frozen longer during the day. Watch out for black ice — those black and shiny patches on the road.
  • Stay with your car if you are stuck or stranded. Draw attention to your vehicle with flashers. If you need to leave your vehicle, exit from the door away from traffic. Run the car sparingly, be careful of exhaust fumes and open a window slightly for fresh air.
  • Pull well off the road if you need to make a call on your cell phone.
  • Keep a winter survival kit in your car with these items:
    • Ice scraper, snowbrush
    • Snow shovel
    • Bag of sand
    • Booster cables
    • Road flares
    • Gas line antifreeze
    • Flashlight and batteries
    • First aid kit
    • Warm clothing and boots
    • Blanket
    • Energy food, bottled water
    • Portable candle
    • Matches
  • Consider taking an advanced driving course that teaches emergency driving skills.