Prevention is better than recovery
Winter driving can be risky and is hard on your vehicle and its engine. Prepare for winter in the fall, by getting a complete checkup of your vehicle. Getting your vehicle ready for winter driving is as simple as following these guidelines:
Battery: Your motor needs a fully charged battery to start in cold weather. Clean battery posts and check the charging system and belts in addition to testing your battery in the fall and spring. Replace weak batteries before they fail.
Ignition system: Replace defective ignition wires, cracked distributor caps and worn spark plugs, since they can make starting difficult or may cause a sudden breakdown.
Lights: Make sure all lights work and that your headlights are properly aimed.
Brakes: Check or service your brakes. Pulling, change in pedal feel or unusual squealing or grinding may mean they need repair.
Tires: Check pressures often, especially before any highway driving. Properly inflated, highquality winter tires will give you the best traction on winter roads and will increase fuel efficiency. A tire that has good pressure when checked in a warm garage will be under-inflated when it is below zero outside, because tire pressure goes down in the cold. That is why you should do your checks when the tires are cold. Use the maximum pressure amount shown in the owner’s manual or on the doorframe as a guide, but never go above the pressure shown on the tire sidewall. Check your spare tire pressure regularly. Since having four matching tires improves vehicle handling, don’t mix tires with different tread patterns, internal construction or size. Winter tires have been designed for use in snow. They carry a pictograph on the sidewall of a peaked mountain with a snowflake, meet high standards for winter traction performance and should not be confused with Mud + Snow (M+S) rated snow tires. Winter tires are a good idea, and may even be legally required where you live.
Exhaust system: Check for leaks that could send deadly carbon monoxide into your vehicle.
Heating and cooling system: Check your radiator hoses and drive belts for cracks and leaks. Make sure the radiator cap, water pump and thermostat work properly. Test the strength and level of the coolant/anti-freeze, and make sure the heater and defroster work well.
Windshield wipers: Make sure your wipers are in good condition. Replace blades that streak. Purchase wipers designed for winter use. Fill up on winter washer fluid in the -40° C temperature range and carry an extra jug in your vehicle.
Prepare for driving
- The safest strategy is to avoid driving in bad weather conditions. If you must drive, check weather and travel conditions before heading out.
- Be alert, well rested and sober behind the wheel and always wear your seatbelt.
- See and be seen. Remove all snow from your vehicle’s hood, roof, windows and lights. Clear all windows of frost and fog. If visibility becomes poor, find a place to safely pull off the road as soon as you can. If visibility is poor, put on your emergency flashers.
- Stay on main roads and drive carefully.
- Be prepared to make a call. Take a fully charged cellphone with you.