If you’ve been driving for a while, then you know driving in winter is nothing like driving any other time of year, especially in Canada. Everything changes, and if your car isn’t prepared for it, then you’re likely going to struggle with winter season for one reason or another. So let’s talk about how to prepare your vehicle for winter driving with some tips as to what you should do.
First of all, however, take your vehicle into a local mechanic (Team Ford is a local mechanic, for example!) to get a few things checked out. You want to make sure all is in working condition before you go out for a winter drive.
Get a Thorough Winter Inspection
You know how important it is to go to the doctor for a regular visit, and the same principle applies to your vehicle. Inspections are important any time of the year, but their importance is a little more pressing as we transition into wintertime. Of course, you don’t want to break down during a blizzard or try to get around in freezing weather while your car is getting repaired in the shop. Or even worse, how about driving on black ice with worn-out brake pads? A winter inspection is one that focuses on the components that tend to malfunction in cold weather and that you’ll need the most during the season. This includes the battery, fluids, filters, exhaust system, radiator, tires, ignition system, and more. This is the best advice we have to offer in how to prepare your vehicle for winter.
Replace Your Wipers and Washer Fluid
Don’t be tempted to use the washer fluid you were using in the summer—you need something rated for winter weather so it doesn’t freeze in the reservoir. You can keep a spare jug in your trunk in case you run out on the road. If you haven’t already, as part of a solid maintenance regimen, replace your windshield wipers too! They do indeed have a lifespan, so if you’re noticing streaks on your windshield, let’s get those wipers replaced.
Switch Out Your Tires
It’s true that all-season tires do a decent job under many road conditions, including some winter conditions, but you just can’t beat the performance and dependability of winter tires during those colder months. Even if you’re not facing the coldest temperatures yet, the moment it reaches 10 degrees Celsius or colder outside, your summer or all-season tires are going to lose grip on the road, and it only gets worse as the temperatures continue to drop. Many professionals recommend you switch your tires about two weeks ahead of the first big snowfall, but sometimes predicting snow in advance like this doesn’t seem feasible—again, especially in Canada. To be on the safe side, you can aim to change your tires in October or November, or when you notice the temperature is dropping to, say, 10 degrees Celsius or lower. Just don’t leave it until the weather starts getting brutal! You don’t want to get stuck behind all the other people in a mad dash to get their tires switched out after winter comes down hard.
Clean, Functional Lights
The colder months means the sun will be setting earlier, the day will be darker, and the visibility will be reduced, especially during whiteouts and blizzards. It’s a good idea to make sure your vehicle lamps are crisp, clear and in ideal working order. If the lamps are dirty or looking dim, you can clean them yourself with a lamp restoration kit.
Take Out the Winter Emergency Kit
Here is a no-brainer in how to prepare your vehicle for winter. You need a winter emergency kit in your car all throughout the winter; not having one can result in serious situations. You can opt for kits that have already been put together, but you’ll still need to add some items yourself, like blankets, jumper cables, antifreeze, salt or sand for traction, a first-aid kit, a small shovel, a scraper/snow brush.
And more than anything, remember that your special winterized equipment and preparation are only as good as your ability to adapt to the weather, because it’s certainly not going to adapt to you. Always drive for the conditions! Remember to maintain your car with us here at Team Ford, and you can contact us or book a service appointment to prepare your vehicle for winter!