Driving Home for Christmas? What to Do Before You Set Off
Canadian drivers know that driving for long stretches in winter brings about real risks, from black ice to snow squalls.
This list of preparations contains items that all Canadian drivers should be mindful of to help ensure a safer winter journey.
Before You Leave: Prepare Your Car
The first thing a driver should do before setting out on the winter road is consider booking a vehicle inspection to determine how road-worthy their vehicle is. Aside from this, here are some preparation measures you can take to help out your technician.
First and foremost, have 4 winter tires installed. These are specially designed to prevent snow build-up an maintain traction on icy roads, making them the best protection against winter driving hazards.
Drivers can also make sure their tires are properly inflated. Air expands when heated and contracts when cooled, so as ambient temperatures get colder, your tires’ inflation pressure decreases. Early winter months are the most critical to check your pressure.
Over time, exposure to the elements can cause headlights to become hazy and less resistant. Check yours to make sure they’re clear and bright, especially if you’re driving at night. Refer to our headlight maintenance best practices.
Test your wind shield wiper blades for their ability to clear water. If they’re not doing a great job, replace them.
When it comes to wind shield wiper fluid, it pays to purchase a top quality product, which will clear away hard to remove ice pellets and show build-up better than cheaper brands.
If you need to top up your wind shield washer fluid reservoir, do this by locating the white container marked by a wind shield / water symbol on the cap under your hood. Remove the cap and check the fluid level. If fluid is low, carefully pour some into the reservoir until it almost reaches the top. If your car has a rear wiper, there may be a second reservoir for it as well.
Motor oil helps your vehicle run efficiently. Sticking to regular oil changes (every 5,000 kilometres is recommended) can help to prolong the life of your engine. Be aware that dirty oil can mean trouble for your vehicle.
If it’s time for an oil change, check your car’s owner manual for the proper oil temperature and viscosity rating to ensure that you use the proper motor oil. Have your technician check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time.
As brake fluid ages, it collects contaminants, reducing the effectiveness of other brake system components. Ask your mechanic to check the condition of your brake fluid and brake lines.
What to Pack
An important part of preparing your vehicle for a winter car ride is stocking it properly. Here’s what to pack:
- Emergency Preparedness Kit:
- At least one warm blanket
- Extra warm clothing
- Energy bars and bottles of water
- First aid kit
- Handy cell phone charger
- Battery powered radio
- Matches and small candles
- Fluorescent distress flag (to tie to your antenna)
- Spare Tire
- Snow Brush
- Jumper cables
- Snow shovel
- Extra wind shield wipers
- Road salt or sand for traction
When you’re sure your car is packed and ready to go, you’re almost ready to hit the road. Make sure you know the weather conditions for the duration of your journey, and what to expect when you reach your destination. Safe travels!