No matter where you live in Canada, you're bound to hit snow-covered, icy, and slippery roads at some point this winter. From digging out your car to maneuvering a snowstorm, we're here to reveal how to get your vehicle winter-ready in 10 easy steps.
1. Check your vehicle's fluid levels
Most vehicle owners remember to have their oil checked regularly but forget to check fluids such as power steering, brake and transmission fluids. Come winter, the two most important fluids to check are windshield washer anti-freeze and engine antifreeze. In winter, a regular fluid level checkup is key to prevent freezing and increasing your overall visibility.
2. Check the battery
Colder temperatures make the engine harder to turn over. Make sure your battery's connections are clean, tight and corrosion-free and consider replacing your battery every five years.
3. Check the headlights
To ensure proper visibility in harsh weather conditions, replace dim, foggy, or burnt-out bulbs right away. Check the plastic casing covering the headlights, which may become cloudy over time.
4. Replace your windshield wipers
If your windshield wiper blades smear, skip, streak or squeak, they're likely past their prime and unsafe for winter driving. Regardless, wiper blades should be replaced at least once a year.
5. Check for an exhaust leak
An exhaust leak caused by a blocked or damaged exhaust pipe could cause carbon monoxide to enter the vehicle. Look for leaks and listen for excessive noise, which is the most common sign of an exhaust leak. Never run the engine if the rear section of the vehicle is buried in snow.
6. Check the heater and defroster
Check the heater and defroster and remember to change the cabin filter. A plugged filter can actually be one of the reasons the windows are fogging up.
7. Get the brakes tested
When you need to put your foot on the brake pedal unexpectedly, every second counts. A thorough checkup from a qualified mechanic will ensure your steering and suspension are stable and in control. You can also do your part by practicing safe winter driving. Leave extra room for braking when travelling on slick and icy roads.
8. Check your vehicle's tires
Your tires are your only point of contact with the road, so making sure you have the right ones on your vehicle is essential. Remember that all-weather tires aren't designed for severe cold. Winter tires offer the best traction, handling and braking in temperatures below 7°C.
9. Re-read the owner's manual
A great way to ensure the entire family's well-being is to know your vehicle inside and out. Give your vehicle owner's manual a thorough read and pay close attention to sections concerning rear wheel, front wheel, or four-wheel drive, as well as the anti-lock braking system, to better understand how your vehicle will respond to a skid.
10. Assemble a roadside emergency kit
Emergency flares, booster cables, a small shovel and a bag of salt or kitty litter (for traction) are essential if you get stuck in snow. You might also consider assembling a general survival kit, including a blanket, candles and matches, a water bottle, non-perishable food items, a flashlight and extra hats and gloves. This could help keep you and your passengers safe and warm until help arrives.