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driving in winter conditions, ice on trees

Winter Car Maintenance

Winter car maintenance in Canada seems it should be routine. But all to often you see drivers who dismiss this subject. You may think that this information is common knowledge, and admittedly it is a reminder for some; however, there are many new drivers out there, and still more experienced ones that need to be told not to use cruise control in the winter.

Most of you have probably already completed many of following tips, but there may be a few forgotten or new-to-you steps ahead. A quick read through should ensure your car continues to be dependable all winter long.

Winter tires

Check. Most Canadians are already onboard with winter tires. These tires are much more capable of staying flexible during the low temperatures. They provide improved traction when you are trying to stop and turn on the cold roads. The best part, many insurance companies offer a discount on premiums if you are equipped with a complete set of winter tires. If this is not on your winter car maintenance list you are missing out.

Check your battery

A quick volt test on your battery will let you know if you need of a new one or if you are simply good to go. The cold winter air makes it more difficult for the battery to operate, and if it is already weak, it could leave you stranded.

Check your lights

The winter brings with it shorter days meaning less daylight and in particular, in the evening for your commute home. Couple that with blowing snow and your visibility is limited. Make sure all your lights are in good working order and keep them clear of ice and snow.

car covered in snow

Clean off your car…completely

This may be the most important winter car maintenance tip! Play it safe, even if you are running late – believe me, the 30 seconds it takes to clean your back window is well worth it! It never fails, on those stormy Monday mornings, you see that driver who did not take the time to clear the snow and ice from the rear window. Clearing your car of snow, ice and built up road dirt and salt protects you as you are driving and protects your car from exterior corrosion. Safety first – and it’s the law!

Regular fluid top ups

This includes gas, washer fluid, engine coolant and more. Cold temperatures can cause condensation in your gas tank which can lead to freezing gas lines. Consider adding a gas line antifreeze with your next fill up. If you need an oil change, just ask and they will gladly ensure that all your other vehicle fluids are topped up.

Avoid the excessive warm up

Idling for more then a few minutes is unnecessary and wastes gas, not to mention the environmental concerns. The best way to warm your vehicle is to start out slow, driving gently at the beginning of your trip.

No cruise control

Never use your cruise control during the winter months. Much the same as in rainy conditions, if you hit any icy roads (including that hard-to-see black ice), your tires will spin as your car accelerates to maintain its speed – the result could be loss of control. It is simply too risky to use the cruise on wet, snowy or icy roads.

Pack a survival kit

This may not be so necessary for the urban dwellers heading to and from work each day; but, rural drivers should consider one for your vehicle. Or, if you are a city driver and taking a road trip – a small survival kit never hurts. Should you ever find yourself stuck on a rural road, you never know when another car may come along.

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