Whether you’re spending your winter at home or heading south in your RV before winter hits really hard, it is important to winterize your car for safer driving all winter long. These are a few of the critical steps required to get your car in tip-top driving shape for the rigors of winter ahead.
Check Your Battery
Canadian winters are cold and long, and if your battery isn’t up to the challenge, it can leave you stranded at the most inopportune times. A simple load test, conducted by a qualifying mechanic, can help you determine if your battery needs to be replaced or if it should have the juice to handle whatever this winter throws at it. Barring, of course, something like leaving the lights on, a door open, or another problem that could potentially drain the battery.
Add Antifreeze to Windshield Washer Fluids and Change Your Wiper Blades
The ability to actually see while driving is one of the most important aspects of safe driving in the winter. Too many people dismiss this as merely removing snow and ice from the windows. However, having wiper blades that are in great shape and the ability to remove falling snow and ice with antifreeze-injected washer fluid, offers an added layer of safety by keeping your windows clear while you’re on the go.
Make the Switch to Snow Tires
This is a wise plan for all winter driving, but absolutely essential for anyone driving in hilly or mountainous areas. Why snow tires? The treads on them are much deeper, thus offering greater traction in the snow. Plus, they have unique treat patterns designed specifically to channel snow, slush, and water away from the tire.
While doing this, also check to see that your spare tire is a full-sized spare, is properly inflated, and is in good shape to handle a variety of winter driving hazards.
Get an Oil Change
Many vehicles operate better with different winter weights of oil. Low-temperature driving can create havoc on your engine. Having the right kind of motor oil on board can minimize the damage not only lengthening the life of your engine, but also avoiding costly and unnecessary breakdowns along the way.
Change Dimming Headlights
If you can’t see while driving at night because your headlights are dim, you are at a severe disadvantage and at a much greater risk of accidents, running over animals crossing roadways, or hitting objects on the road. The right headlights can make a world of difference and no one wants to be stranded on any backroads in the winter because they didn’t see a deer.
Equip Your Vehicle With an Emergency Winter Kit
This kit needs to be sufficient to help you survive if you are stranded in the snow or ice for an extended period of time. It also needs to have supplies to help dig you out or alert others to your location. This includes things like cat litter (for added traction if you’re in an accident), rope, salt, window scraper, portable snow shovel, bottled water, matches, flares and/or reflectors, non-perishable food (protein bars, peanut butter crackers, etc.), and solar blankets. You might also include extra blankets and jackets, gloves, scarves, hats and other winter wear for added warmth. Luxury items to include might be lip balm and hand cream.
Taking the time now, before the worst of winter kicks into full gear, allows you to drive throughout the winter with confidence that if the worst happens, you are prepared for what the roads have in store. It’s also a great time to review your car insurance policy to ensure you’re adequately covered for the unexpected.