Winter in Canada delivers its own set of car problems – road-salt residue, ice and snow build-up, and freezing temperatures can all cause damage to our cars in the colder months. The best course of action to protect our vehicles is taking a preventative approach – and that means winterizing or rides before the mercury drops. Heed these six tips to help ensure your car is in top shape to weather the Canadian winter to come.
1. Fill Up Fluids
Your vehicle runs on multiple fluids that should be checked, topped up, or changed in preparation for the chilly season.
Make sure that your gas tank is at least half full when you’re driving, since idling times (like sitting in traffic jams, or warming up the engine) tend to be higher in the wintertime. Top off your windshield washer fluid and your engine coolant as well.
2. Check Your Lights
A properly functioning lighting system is an important of your vehicle’s overall safety, allowing you to see and be seen by other drivers. This becomes especially important in the winter, when visibility is already low due to falling snow or white-out conditions. Before winter weather returns in full force, it’s wise to give your entire lighting system a check-up.
Inspect your headlights, taillights, and your turn signal to be sure that they’re all in proper working order, replacing broken or burnt out bulbs.
3. Test Your Battery
When temperatures dip below zero degrees Celsius, even a battery that’s fully charged loses 35% of its power. If your battery is already weak, you’re left in a vulnerable position, and run the risk of being left stranded with a dead battery on a cold winter road.
The lifespan of an average car battery in Canada is less than five years. If your own car battery is three or more years old, you should test it before the cold weather hits, and continue to test it annually. If your car battery is five or more years old, consider replacing it.
4. Check Your Oil
Winter weather takes its toll on our vehicles, especially when starting up in cold temperatures. Minimize the negative effects of cold on your engine by choosing the proper motor oil – one that has the correct viscosity rating – and changing it regularly.
Oil thickens in cold weather, which is why it’s best to use a thinner variety in winter, such as a 5 or 10W oil.
5. Tire Pressure
After replacing your summer or all season tires for winter tires, it’s vital that you check their pressure as well.
Improperly inflated tires will not give you the maximum amount of contact between your tires and the road – this can be dangerous in the wintertime, when traction is already poor due to snow, ice, and slush. What’s more, low temperatures can cause a drop in air pressure in our tires. Read our winter tire pressure guide to learn more, and for step-by-step instructions on how to check your tire pressure.
6. Restock Your Emergency Kit
The most important thing you can keep in your car, whether it’s winter, spring, summer or fall, is a properly stocked emergency kit.
Make sure your own car emergency kit is properly stocked this winter, with all the necessary items, including food, bottled water, wool blankets, an ice scraper, and jumper cables. These will prove crucial for keeping you and your loved ones safe in case of an on-the-road emergency this winter.