1. Check the Weather Forecast
Before heading out the door, be sure to check the weather forecast. If the weather calls for a snowstorm or slippery road conditions, drive with caution. If they are advising motorists to stay off the roads, stay off the roads.
2. Use Winter Tires
Winter tires can handle Canadian winters. They can provide stronger traction with heavy snow and ice. Winter tires can also brake easier, handle corners smoothly and speed up better. While having winter tires are important, they also need to be at the right tire pressure. Cold weather can cause tires to deflate, so check the pressure frequently.
3. Clear Snow and Ice from Vehicle
Before driving, take extra time to remove the snow and ice from your vehicle. This will allow you to be able see the road in front of you more clearly and help keep you and other drivers on the road safe. When clearing snow and ice from your vehicle, don’t forget to check the tailpipe to see if any snow or debris is covering it. If something is stuck in your tailpipe or it’s covered, it might lead to carbon monoxide buildup inside your vehicle, which is dangerous and life-threatening.
4. Be Aware of Fuel
Monitor the usage of fuel in your vehicle to prevent being stranded on the side of the road during a snowstorm. Try to keep the tank full or at least half-full and top it off routinely. If you do happen to get stranded or stuck in the snow, don’t panic. Try to conserve fuel as much as possible. Call for roadside assistance and use the items in your vehicle’s winter emergency kit to help keep you warm and secure.
5. Check Emergency Kit
Be prepared for the unexpected with an updated vehicle winter emergency kit. You can either purchase one from a hardware store or make your own with the following items:
- First Aid Kit
- Flashlight (with spare batteries)
- Non-perishable Food Items
- Water Bottles
- Road Flares
- Fire Extinguisher
- Candle with lighter
- Tow Straps
- Booster Cables
- Charing Cable
- Road Maps
- Sand or Kitty Litter
- Duct Tape
- A change of clothes and boots
6. Share the Road with Snowplows
If there’s a snowplow driving near or in front of you, remain vigilant. Make sure there is a safe enough distance between your vehicle and the snowplow. Salt and debris can fly out from a snowplow and potentially hit the vehicles near it. Don’t attempt to pass a snowplow it’s hazardous to do so for yourself, the snowplow operator and other drivers on the road.
7. Drive Defensively
Winter driving can be daunting, so it’s important to remain alert and drive defensively. This means paying attention to your surroundings and adapting to road conditions. If you’re driving through inclement weather, reduce your speed, leave plenty of space between you and other vehicles and remain visible.
8. Watch Out for Slippery Roads
One of the hazards of winter driving is slippery road conditions, especially black ice. Be aware of any glossy and wet-looking patches on the road. Even if your vehicle is equipped with winter tires, skidding can still happen. If you find yourself, skidding and sliding, remain calm and avoid any forceful braking or sudden movements of the steering wheel.
9. Check Fluid Levels
During winter, continue checking the fluids in your vehicle such as the antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid and oil. Top up the fluid if needed. This winter car maintenance step can help keep your vehicle in peak performance during the coldest months of the year.
10. Carry a Cell Phone
While most people carry their cell phones with them all the time, it’s a wise idea to have it in the car with you when driving in winter. If you are stuck in jam, a cell phone can be a great help. Carry a charging cable as well just in case.
Though, avoid being a distracted driver and using your phone when you are driving. Distracted driving is dangerous and can have serious consequences.
Remember, your vehicle’s most important safety feature is the driver. Protect yourself and your vehicle. Desjardins has auto insurance coverage that’s right for you.