Winter Driving – 8 Steps to Winterizing Your Vehicle

winter drivingAs much as it may be tough to face the facts, Calgary Winter is around the corner.

In a few months we will be faced with the reality of shorter days, colder temperatures, and probably even the ‘S’ word. No not that ‘S’ word. I mean SNOW!

Now, I am not sure if you’ve noticed this, I know I have, it’s the same every year. It seems every Calgary driver that has driven in Calgary winters for who knows how many years just down right forgets how to drive in the winter.

Every year, first snowfall, there are cars in the ditch, bumper humpers peppering the streets, and preposterous traffic delays everywhere as a result. (On that note stay tuned for an article to come soon on bumper repair).

How can we as a collective avoid this during winter driving? One way is to make sure your vehicle is ready for winter conditions.

Here are eight tips to help you out:

Battery

The battery of your car is like its heart. Without it properly functioning, you’re not going anywhere, and winter driving with a bad battery is a disaster waiting to happen. To ensure proper maintenance of your battery check the following:

  • Are the posts and connections corrosion-free? Corrosion looks like white, crusty residue and if it build up it becomes difficult for your vehicle to connect to the battery, ie: car won’t start. Whether you clean them yourself or have your battery serviced it is up to you and your know-how and comfort level, just get `er done!
  • How old is your battery? If it is older than three years have it tested. Its ability to hold a charge diminishes over time.
  • If you do have an older battery make sure to carry an extension cord with you and plug the vehicle in when temperatures reach around -15C to -20C or lower.

 

Tires For Winter Driving

I cannot stress enough the importance of winter tires. We live at the base of the Rocky Mountains for crying out loud, in a continental climate, this means snow and cold arctic exposure. Snow tires help maintain traction during winter driving.

Whether your vehicle is a rear-wheel drive sports car, a front-wheel drive sedan or an all-wheel drive SUV, the most effective safety measure one can have is the “contact patch”, this is the section of tire that touches the road.

No matter your AWD system, winter tires = good grip on the road, are an important safety measure.

“All-season tires do not have cold weather rubber compounds, channelling tread patterns, the large number of tread sipes (tiny slits in the tread blocks) for wet surface control, and the open tread block pattern for deep snow traction that winter tires feature,” explains fountaintire.com.

To ensure a good quality winter tire look for a snowflake symbol.

Windshield

Do you have a crack or chip in your windshield? Summer road trips are the culprit of much windshield damage. No big deal, these small cracks and abrasions can be fixed quite easily. Especially if caught while they are still small.

It is wise to deal with these before the weather drops. Holes and cracks leave the glass subject to retraction and expansion with fluctuating weather. As a result small issues can spider web out overnight. If this happens, a full windshield replacement may be necessary.

Make sure to repair any windshield damage before snow and freezing rain. Your visibility is important in the winter so improve it by ensuring your windshield is in great condition.

You should also determine if you need a full windshield replacement.

Windshield Wiper Blades

Check your wiper blades. Any blemishes in the field of vision may indicate a damaged wiper blade. Streaks or areas left unclear after the wiper has swiped are indications you may need a new wiper blade.

Mr. Windshield Wiper Blades very aptly states, “A windshield wiper has no protective cover, of course. Even when not in use, it sits in its receptacle between the windshield and the hood subjected to the wind, rain and sun, 24 hours of every day, 365 days of every year. A wiper blade begins deteriorating the very minute it’s installed to the vehicle.”

So how often shoulwindshield_wipersd you have your wiper blades replaced?

If there are visible symptoms such as splitting, cracking, disintegration, discolouration, etc. those are sure-fire signs it’s time for a new blade.

The useful life of a wiper blade in generally around a year, however this differs depending on what your wipers are made out of.

Ordinary rubber has the shortest life span, halogen-hardened rubber a bit longer, and silicone the longest. Life span on the two latter materials can be over a year, up to three depending on use and weather conditions.

For more information read our post on windshield wipers.

 

Other Things to Consider

  • Four Wheel Drive? If your vehicle has four wheel drive, check the system to make sure it’s functioning correctly before tackling winter driving.
  • Antifreeze topped up? Does your radiator have the correct amount of antifreeze, and has it been mixed properly?
  • Emergency Kit? Just in case, make sure to keep the following in your car; a blanket, extra gloves, hats and scarves, a car cell phone charger, an extension cord, a scraper, jumper cables, a spare tire, a first aid kit, a flashlight. If you get stuck or stranded these items can literally save your life.

 

Be Cautious

Drive the appropriate speed for the conditions. Yes there are maximum speed limits however this doesn’t mean you have to go that fast. Slow down when road conditions are poor and take your time to drive alertly and defensively.

Stay tuned for a post on bumper repair.