With the snow in the air, it’s not too late to get your car at it’s best for the tougher driving conditions that winter brings. Here is a simple list* that any reputable garage or mechanic can help you with to make sure you are at your safest when on the winter roads:
Brakes – Your brakes should always be equalised so there is no pulling to one side. If the brakes on your car are uneven, you may be more likely to skid on snow-covered or icy roads.
Cooling system – Every few years, you should have your cooling system flushed out with a chemical cleaner and replaced with fresh anti-freeze. Check your containers, belts, hoses, the pressure caps and thermostat.
Battery and electrical system – Cold weather is very hard on batteries, so have yours checked. Be sure that the connections are always clean and tight and that there is no corrosion around the connectors.
Fuel System – Make sure there is plenty of gas in your tank at all times. A full tank minimizes condensation, which may cause gas line freezing. Add gasoline antifreeze occasionally.
Engine – A diagnostic check-up of the engine can be a good pre-winter ritual. At your next scheduled tune-up, have it done. Faulty wiring, worn spark plugs, a sticking choke or emission control devices that need attention, can all cause problems when starting your car.
Exhaust system – Check your muffler and tail pipe system for carbon monoxide leaks. This is especially important in the winter when the windows of your car are almost always closed.
Heaters, defrosters and wipers – Have your car’s windshield, heaters, defrosters and wipers checked to make sure they are fully operational. Install new winter wiper blades and use properly rated, winter washer fluid. Ensure your windshield always gives you a clear vision of the road and traffic around you.
Oil and filter – Dirty oil can mean trouble in the winter, so change the oil and filter before the cold weather starts. Other filters need your attention too – your fuel, air and transmission filters should all be attended to as well.
Tires – Snow tires increase traction in soft snow. Make sure to install them on all four wheels, as it will mean greater control of your vehicle when accelerating and braking, and don’t forget to check your tire pressure regularly. Properly inflated tires are crucial to safe winter driving.
Take time to take care.
* Some information for this checklist supplied by the Canada Safety Council.