Winter is upon us once again! As the weather begins to get colder, everyone has so much on their to-do list. You might need to winterize the windows on your house, get your winter wardrobe out or begin trying to untangle the Christmas lights. One aspect of your life that you definitely need to have ready for the winter is your car. To make things easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of eight tips to keep in mind when prepping your vehicle for the winter.
Tip one: Replace your wipers
Did you know that your windshield wipers begin to lose their performance and power after just six months of use? That’s why it’s incredibly important to make sure that you replace your wipers at least once or twice a year. Replacing them in preparation for winter is a great idea, as you don’t want them to malfunction during a snow storm.
It is also very important to always make sure your wiper fluid is full when getting on the road, especially on snow days. Just in case of an emergency, it is a good idea to keep a spare jug of windshield wiper fluid in your trunk or backseat. Also remember to make sure you purchase fluid specifically made for cold temperatures, and that has anti-freeze properties.
Tip two: Check your battery
It is vital that you keep your battery adequately charged and in good working order before driving in the winter. To do so, you can take it to get professionally tested at most car service stations. They will be able to tell you if it has a full charge, if your battery fluid is low, if it should be replaced and more.
On average, a car battery tends to last for approximately three to five years. However, as the Canadian climate can sometimes get incredibly cold, the lasting power of your battery may be slightly less than average if you drive a lot in the winter months. This is because cold temperatures reduce the power of batteries. At 0 degrees Celsius, a battery only has half the power that it has at 20 degrees Celsius. This is why you must ensure that your battery is in good condition before driving this winter.
Tip three: Never let your gas tank be less than half full
We cannot stress enough how important this tip is! Cold temperatures, especially with how cold it can get overnight in Canada, can cause an empty or even a half empty gas tank to freeze. This is because condensation will form on the walls of your gas tank if not filled. The condensation will then freeze, and in turn, can freeze your entire tank. If you keep your gas tank at least halfway full at all times, this will most likely not happen.
Tip four: Invest in winter tires
We strongly recommend anyone living in Canada to consider investing in winter tires, especially if you drive frequently or have a long daily commute. In the winter, roads are a lot more slippery than usual, and having winter tires will give you better control over your vehicle.
It is also important for you to conduct frequent tire checks throughout the winter months. You will want to make sure that they are properly inflated. When the temperature drops, your tires are more prone to losing air and pressure.
Tip five: Check your oil
During these colder months, remember to check frequently to make sure that your oil level isn’t too low, and is the correct thickness. While this is something that you should be doing all year round, it is especially vital in the winter. This is because motor oil thickens when it is cold outside. If your oil is too thick, it can be a lot harder for you to start your engine. One tip to prevent this from occurring is to use lower viscosity oil, as this is made to help prevent thickening. Ask your service technician about using low viscosity oil next time you get an oil change or have a service appointment.
Tip six: Create an emergency kit
Getting stuck on the side of the road in the middle of winter, or even worse in the middle of a snowstorm, can be an absolute nightmare. That’s why it is necessary for you to prepare ahead just in case of an emergency by keeping a “kit” of essentials in your vehicle. This kit should include things to help keep you warm and dry, but also tools to help you in case of a car breakdown. Some ideas and examples of things you can keep in your emergency kit include: blankets, a flashlight, water, snacks, jumper cables, a first aid kit and an ice scraper.
Tip seven: Check your heater
Before the temperatures reach their lowest of the year, remember to check that your car’s heater is in good condition. There is nothing worse than having a broken heater when the temperature is -20 degrees or colder outside. You will freeze!
Your heater is also directly connected to your defroster, which is vital aspect of your car to use during the winter months. If one doesn’t work, neither does the other. Not having a working defroster when it’s cold outside will make it very hard to see, as your windows will most likely fog or freeze up instantly.
Tip eight: Always clean off your car before driving
This is arguably the most important tip of the list, as it not only affects you, but all other drivers on the roads as well. Please remember to make sure that all your windows and windshields are cleared of snow and ice so that you can see properly. Please also take the time to clean the rest of your car of snow in its entirety! Blowing snow causes low visibility for everyone around you on the roads, and can be extremely dangerous and cause accidents.
Most drivers don’t know that cleaning your windows and lights of snow is actually a legal requirement in some provinces, and you can get a fine or ticket for breaking this law. Please check your province’s Highway Traffic Act to see the exact law in your area before embarking on the road this winter.
Driving in the winter can be challenging. But if you follow the steps above and drive with a little bit of extra caution, you can reduce your risk of getting into an unnecessary accident.
Have questions about winter driving? Want to chat? Don’t hesitate to give us a shout.
Frequently asked questions on Winter Car Maintenance:
Is it worth washing my car in the winter?
If the weather is warm enough, it's a good idea to wash your car because of the accumulation of salt from the roads. If the temperatures are low enough for it to snow, however, you are likely to have problems with hoses or even the water freezing on your car as you try to wash it. The general rule is that if it's is a nice day, take advantage of the chance to clean off your car to prevent rust from the salt.
Is it ok to wax your car in the winter?
It's better to wait until the temperatures are higher in order for car wax to be effective. At very cold temperatures you should avoid waxing your car, but if there's a very nice day out, you could wax your car at maximum sunlight and temperatures and still get the benefits of this wax.
How do I protect my car from salt corrosion?
Rust corrosion can be devastating to your vehicle, but living in a northern climate makes it very difficult to avoid the negative impacts of salt corrosion. Make sure that you watch out when driving near puddles. If you can avoid them, this will help protect your car. Furthermore, apply wax every six months to help address any rust buildup.
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