Preparing Your Vehicle for Safe Winter Driving

car at mechanics

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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.

Ron Lapointe
Registered Broker

 

* Some information for this checklist supplied by the Canada Safety Council.

Driving in cold weather

woman using ice scraper on car windshield

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So here’s the scenario: You’re laying in your nice, warm bed when your radio alarm clock wakes you up with another weather forecast filled with freezing temperatures and more snow expected. In a perfect world, you turn the alarm off, close your eyes and forget everything you just heard because you aren’t going anywhere today.   But most of us live in the world where you have to get up, scrape your windows, jump in your vehicle and face the elements, so here’s a small checklist for your vehicle to help keep you safe when the weather turns bad.

A winter checklist for your vehicle

The following items should cover most situations:

  • windshield scraper and snow brush;
  • lightweight shovel;
  • bag of sand, wire traction mat or other abrasive substance;
  • large box of facial tissues;
  • properly inflated spare tire;
  • wheel wrench and jack;
  • first aid kit;
  • flashlight;
  • flares;
  • battery jumper cables.

For long distance travel take extra precautions: bring a blanket, candles, lighter or matches, emergency rations, lined winter boots, hat and other warm clothes, and small heating cans.

It only takes a few dollars and very little time to make sure your car is fully prepared and equipped for harsh, winter conditions. It’s worth the effort.

 

Take time to take care.

Ron Lapointe
Registered Broker

 

* Some information for this checklist supplied by the Canada Safety Council.

 

Winter is Coming – Don’t forget: Your car is not a Sherman Tank!

Be prepared - winter driving

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Clean off Your Car in Winter

How often have you been driving down the highway in the winter when you approach a car in front of you that is hurtling down the road resembling a giant white tank? Let me paint this picture a little clearer for you. The ‘car’ in front of you has so much snow left on it that the wind is firing frozen missiles from it’s roof at you that come crashing down on your windshield, making for some pretty anxious moments.

After a few kilometers following this nitwit, you cautiously take your opportunity to pass them to get out of the barrage of ice and snow only to discover that all of their windows are covered in snow except for a tiny credit card sized hole that they’ve scraped off of their windshield with what looks like their finger nails.

This driver is a huge liability on the road as they can’t see you, and because of all the flying snow, you have a hard time seeing them.  They could also be subject to a sizeable fine* for their carelessness in making sure that they are operating a safe vehicle, especially in adverse conditions.

Winter driving is stressful enough at the best of times, so how can you make sure that you are not the one driving the Sherman Tank?

Clear ALL snow and ice off your vehicle before getting behind the wheel. This includes your windows, trunk, hood, roof and sides of the vehicle if necessary. This will make it much easier for others to see your vehicle and avoid you being at fault for flying snow and ice into other vehicles that could cause a serious accident, especially when traveling at highway speeds.

Slow down. Your vehicle is NOT indestructible, and can’t stop on a dime, especially when traveling on snow covered, wet or icy roads, so give yourself extra room between vehicles and drive according to not just the speed limits, but the conditions around you.

– When it’s snowing, use your full nighttime lights even when driving during the daytime. Again, giving people the best chance to see you will help minimize your chances of getting hit by someone else.

Just some simple, common sense tips to help get you safely to where you want to go.

Take time to take care.

Ron Lapointe
Registered Broker

* Ontario Highway Traffic Act: 74.(1) Windows to afford clear view. All your windows must be clean and clear enough so you can see clearly out