Winter car maintenance checklist

13 minute read Published on Nov 15, 2023 by BrokerLink Communications

Winter car maintenance checklist

Driving in the winter can be difficult, which is why you need to make sure your vehicle is in top shape before the first snowfall hits and that winter chill settles in! So, how exactly do you do this? What preparations need to be made?

We've put together an easy-to-follow checklist to help you turn your car into a reliable winter vehicle in this comprehensive guide. We've got you covered on everything from checking your car battery and tires to winterizing your fluids and putting together a winter emergency kit to ensure you tackle the cold season the right way with safe winter driving.

Therefore, if you want to learn more about BrokerLink’s winter car maintenance tips, and car inspection checklist and more, keep reading as this is a good starting point for any driver on the road!

Winter car maintenance tips

To ensure you're well-prepared for any and all conditions winter throws your way, take a look through some of the most essential winter car maintenance tips we’ve outlined below:

Replace your windshield wipers and washer fluid

Winter conditions frequently bring slush, snow, and salt-sprayed roads, leading to decreased visibility for drivers. To avoid this, make sure you check the overall condition of your windshield wiper and replace them if they streak. In addition, we recommend keeping your windshield from freezing by replenishing your wiper fluid leaks and ensuring that you select a high-grade winterized fluid for the cooler months of the year.

Prepare your tires and replace tires if needed

Suitable tire traction is essential in the winter. Consider investing in winter or snow-resistant tires for better traction on snow-covered roadways. Winter tires have unique grooves for tread and rubber alloys that remain adaptable in frigid temperatures, meaning you'll have better control over your vehicle. Furthermore, motorists should check their tire pressure on a regular basis in order in order to maintain proper inflation and traction. It's also a good idea to replace worn or compromised tires before winter arrives.

Prepare a winter emergency kit

Make a well-equipped winter emergency kit with items such as an emergency flashlight with a second set of batteries, cold-weather clothing including hats, gloves, and blankets, nonperishable food, water, a shovel, ice scraper, first-aid kit, battery cables, flares, and an external phone charger. If you become stranded in winter conditions, this emergency kit serves as an important safety feature in your car and can save your life by supplying you with all of the gear and supplies you need to stay comfortable, warm, and safe until aid arrives.

Conduct a battery test

The frigid weather can put additional strain on your car's battery, which can make it more prone to failure. Before winter arrives, have your battery tested so you can be sure it is in a good state of operation. A faulty battery can leave you stuck in the cold, so changing it as needed is a smart investment come the wintertime.

Check the antifreeze

Check that your engine's cooling fluid mixture is winter-appropriate. Antifreeze, also known as coolant, keeps the car's engine from freezing and protects it from below-freezing temperatures. Check the antifreeze level in the radiator and top it off if required.

Clean your fuel injectors

Fuel injector clogging can result in poor fuel performance and fuel economy. Ask to have them professionally cleaned in order to ensure your engine's performance is optimal in the frigid conditions. This also has the potential to prevent problems like stalling, which can be made worse by cold temperature.

Have an oil change

Remember to include an oil change in your winter car maintenance schedule. This is critical for keeping your engine running smoothly, especially when it comes to the colder months of the year when conventional oil may not be enough to protect your vehicle.

Prepare your locks, latches, doors, and more

Locks and latches can freeze in the winter, making it more challenging for you to get into your vehicle. Lubricant should be applied to the doorknobs, hinges, and latches to prevent frozen doors from happening. A little silicone spray should do the trick as they perform well when the temperature drops and do not freeze.

Remember, performing these winter car maintenance measures will not only ensure that your car is ready to face the hazards of driving during the winter season but will also improve both safety and peace of mind.

Car maintenance tips for your road trip

If you’re planning on doing a road trip during the winter, your risks of being on the road become more prevalent. As such, here are some additional safe driving tips and car maintenance tips for your road trip that also take into account the unique winter-related conditions you may face while behind the wheel:

Fully clean your vehicle

To remove any winter buildup, give your vehicle a thorough cleaning, including the undercarriage. If road salt, sand, and road debris accumulate, they can cause corrosion, which can be incredibly costly to repair.

Inspection of the brakes

Your brakes are an essential safety feature, particularly on icy or snow-covered roads. An experienced technician should inspect the brake fluid, lines, hoses, linings, and brake pads, in addition to the parking brake. It is critical for winter driving safety to keep your brakes in good working order, so don't overlook this task.

Know where you're going beforehand

While GPS navigation or Google Maps on your cellphone is standard amongst drivers today, it doesn't hurt to have a hard copy of your map as a backup, especially in areas where the reception is down or spotty. So, take the extra time to print a physical copy of your directions and put them in a safe and accessible spot in your vehicle as an added precaution.

Inspect your headlights

Ask for help from a friend to ensure that all of your safety lights, including brake lights, headlights, and signal warning lights, are working correctly. For safe driving during the winter months, good visibility and proper signalling are essential.

By taking these precautions, you can significantly improve your vehicle's reliability and safety during the harsh winter months, lowering the risk of collisions and mechanical failures on frigid and snow-covered roads.

Save on your car insurance by winterizing your vehicle

It goes without saying that saving money on your Ontario car insurance is an endeavour that all motorists in the province seek to gain. Luckily, BrokerLink understands the significance of saving money where you can, especially when it comes to car insurance coverage, which is why we encourage all customers to consider outfitting their vehicles with winter tires.

Not only do winter tires make it safer for you to drive on wet, icy roads, but they also make you eligible for winter tire discounts from numerous car insurance providers. Keep in mind that Winter tires and all season tires are not required by the federal government. Even so, British Columbia and Quebec are mandated by provincial law to do so.

That said, although winter tire mandates do not apply to motorists in Ontario, it is still worth doing so as you can save on your policy throughout the year, which is a great way to keep more money in your pocket at the end of the day.

Should I call my insurance after a minor winter accident?

Even if the initial damage and harm appear minor in the event of a minor winter-related accident, calling your insurance company after a minor accident is absolutely essential. Why? Here are some reasons why doing so can benefit you more than avoiding a call:

Unseen damage and delayed injuries

Not all harm and injuries are readily apparent. However, once a reliable mechanic looks at your vehicle closely, especially given the year and car model, your repair costs could skyrocket, even if you thought the damage was minor. In addition, injuries may not become apparent for several days or weeks following the incident. Without an immediate report to back it up, the other party involved may deny that the incident ever happened, and you may be left paying for the harm that you suffered.

Quick repairs and claims assistance

Insurance settlements can be time-consuming to complete. If you disclose an accident to your insurance company as soon as possible, even if it was not your fault, your coverage enables you to begin making repairs to the car you were driving. This means you won't have to wait forever for this issue to be resolved. Your insurance company or broker will also act as your representative on your behalf for a fair and equitably distributed claim settlement.

Possibility of inadequate insurance

If the other driver does not have appropriate car insurance and you do not immediately report the car accident to your insurance carrier, you may find yourself with the responsibility of covering all of the costs on your own. However, proper notification of the incident allows you to have the opportunity to get compensation through your uninsured coverage, providing an important safety net, which, of course, is mandatory for all drivers in Ontario.

Reporting vs. filing a claim

It's critical to understand the difference between simply reporting an incident to your insurance carrier and submitting an official claim. Reporting the incident guarantees that you will be reimbursed if the cost of harm or injuries is greater than expected. Furthermore, if a third party files a claim with their insurance provider and you do not, your insurance company will be alerted, and a case will be processed regardless. So, it's best to inform your insurance provider first, as it can help you later down the line.

Will my insurance cover towing if I get into an accident?

Winter-related accidents can be complicated, which is why knowing what is covered by insurance in such cases is critical. What you need to know about whether or not insurance cover for towing is available after a winter accident is as follows:

It's important to note that, even during the winter, not all car insurance policies immediately include towing coverage. The cost of a tow truck after a winter-related collision is covered by your insurance company, depending on the type and amount of coverage you have:

1. Collision protection

Some collision insurance policies cover towing following an accident, regardless of fault. Remember that a number of insurance companies may offer favoured towing services, so see if your insurance carrier offers this option and, if so, think about going with their suggested towing company.

2. Coverage for all perils

Another optional insurance type is all-perils coverage, which provides all-encompassing safety for your vehicle. This coverage extends beyond collision, and depending on your policy terms, all perils coverage can also include the cost of a tow truck if the vehicle's crash was caused by a risk covered by your policy.

It's a good idea to review the details of your insurance plan to familiarize yourself with the scope of your coverage before the cold weather arrives. If you live in a region prone to severe winter weather, making sure your policy includes towing coverage in the event of a winter-related accident can give you peace of mind, knowing you won't be stuck on the side of the road. If your policy does not already include this coverage, you should look into adding it to your portfolio moving forward.

Will my car insurance increase if I get involved in an accident due to icy weather?

In general, an accident affects car insurance rates even if it is caused by bad winter weather conditions. When determining premium changes, insurance companies frequently consider a variety of factors, and an at-fault accident, regardless of the cause, can result in rate increases. The extent of the increase, however, is determined by a number of factors, including your insurance provider's policies, your driving history, and the severity of the accident.

Some insurance companies in Canada offer accident forgiveness policies that may keep your rates from rising after your first at-fault accident, which is beneficial for those who have good driving habits throughout the rest of the year. For more information about how your specific situation might be affected, check your policy and discuss potential rate impacts with your insurance provider. To avoid rate increases, it is always best to drive safely and prevent accidents in bad weather.

How do I protect my car from salt corrosion?

Rust corrosion can wreak havoc on the exterior of your car, especially during the wintertime when the roads are full of salt. To protect your vehicle from this corrosive threat, avoid puddles and slush as much as you can, as these can harbour chemicals that are corrosive. Applying a quality automotive wax every six months or so is also a preventative measure you can take. This regular waxing acts as a protective barrier, preventing rust buildup and deterioration. By developing these practices, you not only improve the physical appearance of the car but also extend its lifespan by protecting it from relentless rust, which can be especially destructive in areas where winter road treatments are required. For the inside of your car, install winter floor mats to reduce salt stains.

Insurance policies designed for winter-related accidents

Accidents can happen at any time. Therefore, it's absolutely essential that motorists across Canada make sure they have proper insurance coverage throughout the entirety of the year that takes into account the country's diverse seasonal changes. As such, here is a closer look at some insurance coverage options that you will benefit from as a driver:

Accident benefits coverage

Accident benefits are a type of auto insurance coverage that is required in the majority of Canadian provinces and territories, meaning that you do not have the option of whether or not to add this to your overall car insurance portfolio. The goal of accident benefits is to compensate a policyholder in the event that they or a third party suffers injury or loss of life in a motor vehicle crash. Accident benefits are available to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who are involved in a collision. Accident benefits coverage is provided regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Income replacement, caregiver benefits, medical and rehabilitation expense coverage, non-earner benefits, funeral costs, and other benefits are included in this policy.

As roads during the wintertime are more dangerous, accident benefits serve as a vital safeguard to you and others on the roadways. Just make sure you understand the terms and conditions of your specific policy, as it is likely to change between insurance providers.

No-fault insurance

In Ontario, no-fault insurance works on the principle that everyone involved in a collision, regardless of fault, manages their own claims through their specific insurance providers. This means that if you need to file a claim, you will only deal with your own insurer, regardless of the specific events that led to the incident. Depending on the particulars of your insurance plan, the amount of coverage for costs related to vehicle servicing, medical expenses, and attorney's fees is subject to change.

Nonetheless, when involved in an accident, the last thing you want to do is deal with an insurance company that isn't your own. With no-fault insurance, you can rest assured knowing your claim will be processed quickly to ensure that you are compensated for your losses.

Comprehensive car coverage

Comprehensive auto insurance is a voluntary but functional coverage that goes above and beyond basic liability coverage. It protects your vehicle from a variety of non-collision events, making it especially useful in the winter.

This coverage usually deals with theft, fire, vandalism, natural disasters, and damage caused by falling objects. It also covers costs for glass damage, such as a cracked windshield and animal collisions, which tend to happen in snowy areas. Ultimately, comprehensive insurance is especially important during the winter season when bad weather is typical.

Collision insurance

Collision insurance is a supplemental type of auto insurance that pays for the cost of repair or replacement of your vehicle after a collision with another motor vehicle or object, regardless of who is at fault. Collision insurance is critical when driving in the winter. Slippery roadways, minimized visibility, and icy conditions all contribute to an increase in the probability of an accident happening. Collision coverage can provide financial security by assisting you in covering repair costs if you are involved in a winter-related accident. Note that you will need to pay your deductible before your insurance policy kicks in to pay the rest of the costs.

Contact BrokerLink today!

Are you looking for car insurance in Toronto or other parts of the country? If so, the team at BrokerLink is here to help. You can get a competitive insurance quote in minutes by using our online quote tool that gives you access to top insurance companies across Canada.

Alternatively, if you prefer speaking with someone directly, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the team over the phone or visit us at one of our many locations! We look forward to speaking with you!

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Winter vehicle maintenance FAQs

What should I check in my car in the winter?

First, inspect your tires; if you need better traction, think about making the switch to winter or snow tires. Air pressure should be checked because it tends to drop in the wintertime. Look at your car's battery and make sure it's in good working order to avoid starting problems. To prevent freezing, examine the antifreeze levels and think about employing winter-grade windshield washer fluid. Inspect your brakes and brake lights on a regular basis to ensure they work correctly on slick roads. Finally, inspect your wipers and swap them if they are streaky. By performing these checks, you will help ensure that your vehicle is adequately prepared to safely navigate the hazards of winter driving.

What is winter car maintenance?

Winter car upkeep is a critical set of steps that assists in preparing your vehicle for safe and dependable operation during the winter season. It ensures that your car is in top shape to deal with the unique challenges posed by cold weather conditions, snow, ice, and slick roads. You are essentially taking proactive measures to protect yourself and others on the road by performing winter maintenance and practicing good driving habits.

If you have any questions, contact one of our local branches.