While you’re relishing in the crunch of leaves beneath your feet and sipping on your pumpkin spice latte, try not to forget: winter is coming.
While it may not be everyone’s favourite time of the year, as Canadians, we are conditioned to accept the season for what it is: chilling temperatures, heavy snow, ice, slush, perpetual traffic, and car accidents – lots and lots of car accidents! There is no better time to prioritize the safety and maintenance of your car than in the winter, to help reduce your risk of being one of the poor souls stranded in the ditch.
But what exactly should you be doing to ensure your four-door sedan, minivan, or 4×4 can endure the wrath of Old Man Winter?
Here’s our list of the top 8 ways to prepare your car for the winter:
1. Install Winter Tires
This might be a no-brainer for most people, but it is critical that you install winter tires. Many motorists make the mistake of installing all-season tires, thinking that it will save them a few bucks – and the hassle – but experts recommend placing dedicated winter tires on your vehicle.
Made with soft, malleable rubber and featuring a deep single-directional tread pattern, winter tires help to push away snow and ice as you drive, improving your control and performance in cold and snowy conditions. All-season tires in contrast, can freeze up in very cold temperatures, reducing the traction of your wheel on snow and ice, and even on a cold dry road!
2. Perform Routine Maintenance Checkup
Preventive maintenance is imperative to ensuring your car will be able to handle the roads from November to March (or April).
What should you do? Head to your local mechanic and have them examine the inner components of your automobile, from the exhaust systems to the cooling and heating systems.
You too can also perform some elementary checkups before every drive to safeguard against hiccups on your way to work or school. This includes spot-checking your tires, examining fluid conditions, and cleaning your winter blades.
3. Invest in a Car-Friendly Snow Brush
Unfortunately, your snow brush may be damaging the exterior of your car. Windshield brushes are typically made from nylon, which can do serious harm to your car’s paint job. We recommend the Garant scratch-free snow brush from Canadian Tire which features a non-abrasive foam head and a serrated scraper to help break up stubborn ice without impairing the integrity of your paint. Other options for paint-safe snow removal include:
- Invest in a car cover and wrap your vehicle when it is not in use for an extended period.
- Buy some heavy-duty gloves and remove the snow with your hands
Whatever you do, never leave the snow on your car. It can result in a hefty fine, and it is dangerous.
4. Change Your Wiper Blades
Whether it is because we are too cheap or too tired, we tend to leave our generic wiper blades on our cars even during the wintertime. Some motorists think they are clever by leaving them standing up in the middle of a storm, but this tactic rarely prevents the blades from being coated in ice, making them virtually ineffective in cleaning your windshield.
The solution? Replace your summer wiper blades with heavy, durable winter blades which are coated in a protective rubber layer, helping them keep your windshield free of ice and snow all season long.
5. Ensure Your Windshield Reservoir is Full
How many times have you been caught with an empty windshield washer reservoir? When you’re slogging through slush-coated roads, wiper fluid makes a tremendous difference to your windshield visibility, which is paramount to making your drive as safe as possible. As part of your winter maintenance routine, we recommend regularly checking your reservoir levels, and ensuring you always have a jug of extra washer fluid in your automobile.
6. Charge Your Mobile Device
An uncharged phone is inconvenient at the best of times, but if you’re stranded on the side of the road in the middle of a snowstorm, a charged phone can mean the difference between getting help or suffering hypothermia. Don’t risk it.
The simplest trick is to charge your smartphone before every trip. But, as a precautionary measure, keep a charger or a charged power bank in your car to ensure that in the event of an emergency you can contact the authorities, call your family, or, at the very least, provide yourself with some entertainment while you wait for your rescue team.
8. Stock a Vehicle Emergency Kit
Do you have a winter survival kit in your automobile? Now is the time to start getting one together, especially if the forecasts for a brutal, no good, rotten, freezing cold winter are accurate. So, what are some vehicle emergency kit essentials? Start with this:
- First aid kit
- Boost cable
- Tow rope
- Safety blanket
- Spare tire, wheel wrench, and jack
- Shovel and traction mat (or kitty litter)
- Flashlight and additional batteries
- A container of gasoline
Winter elements can wreak havoc upon the look of your car; to help maintain a spotless shine under all that snow, you should consider exterior protection for your vehicle before winter conditions hit. Good preparation of your car’s exterior can help protect it against road salt, oxidization, acid rain, and scratches, to name a few.
For a DIY at-home option, clean your car then apply an all-natural wax, like carnauba wax. If you typically park your car outside or live in areas with harsher winter conditions, you should consider a more durable coating such as a synthetic wax blend, paint sealant or high-quality ceramic coating. Talk to your trusted car detailing specialist to learn more about protectant options to fit your car needs and budget.
Take it from the pros, a good defense is your best offense. So, adapt, prepare, and protect your car to stay safe and in control, no matter what storms await us this winter.