5 Easy Ways to Prepare Your Car For Winter
Jack Frost is on the way, and for most provinces and territories, Mr. Frost overstays his welcome. The long Canadian winter can be tough on our cars, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are a few simple-but-significant winter car maintenance tips to help protect your vehicle against the cold, cold climate of the True North…
Is your window defroster button working? Great! Have you got a good snow brush and ice-scraper at the ready? Awesome! You’re off to a flying start, but there are a few other easy checks and DIY jobs you can do to winterize your car.
This quick checklist will help winter-proof your vehicle and could save you a lot of time, money, and stress. As always, check your owner’s manual for specific details about your car’s components and how to conduct these checks safely.
1. Check tire pressure
Good tires are essential if you’re going to drive on icy roads. Whether you choose to swap your regular tires for snow tires or not, you should monitor tire pressure regularly as the weather gets colder.
Low tire pressure is common in cold weather conditions as fluctuating temperatures can cause the air in your tires to expand and contract. This can lead to greater wear & tear, diminished performance, and even an accident.
Read more about preparing your tires for winter and beyond in Buying Tips For Your Winter Tires and Ultimate Guide to Tire Checks.
2. Seek shelter & protect your paint job
As the winter weather causes temperatures to plummet, you may want to rethink where you park your vehicle. Complete exposure to the ice-cold elements isn’t ideal, and constantly brushing snow and scraping ice off your car can leave scratches too. Some kind of shelter can help protect your vehicle’s polished paint job.
If you have a garage, we suggest clearing it out to make room for your vehicle. If you don’t have a garage, it might be worth investing in a high-quality car cover.
A reliable cover or garage shelter will protect your car when it’s parked, but what about when you’re driving through the snowy streets? Slushy snow and rock salt could damage the bodywork, but regular car washes and a protective waxing during winter months will help keep your paint job pristine.
3. Check the battery
Don’t get stranded because of a dead battery! If you can’t remember the last time you checked your battery, you might want to do it soon. An ageing car battery is more likely to die once temperatures dip into the minuses, so preempt the problem with a quick inspection. You can check your battery’s health status with a load test.
A load test—done with a handheld multimeter (or voltmeter)—measures capacity and charge. Learn more about checking, charging, and replacing your battery with our comprehensive guide.
4. Replace wiper blades
Obviously, clear visibility is extremely important when you’re on the road, and wiper blades lose their effectiveness faster than most people think.
Once you notice leftover water streaking to the windshield after every swipe, it’s usually time to replace them, but you can always try wiping down the rubber with a washcloth to see if that improves performance.
Wipers have standardized lengths and sizes, so it depends on what your car supports. Replacing the wipers yourself is a simple job, but you should consult your owner’s manual for specific details.
Pro tip: When starting your engine in really cold weather, save your windshield wipers and use an ice scraper or de-icer to remove ice from your windshield. When you park your car outside, fold your wipers out to prevent them from freezing and sticking to the windshield. Also, it’s a good idea to keep your windshield washer fluid topped up.
5. Plan an emergency kit
Having an emergency kit in your vehicle, especially when the cold weather arrives, offers peace of mind when you’re driving in bad weather and can get you out of a bind if you get stranded or into an accident.
Some emergency kit items might include a blanket, extra hats & gloves, a flashlight with extra batteries, portable charger for your smartphone, jumper cables, water & snacks, and a first-aid kit. Additionally, a trusty shovel can be of great assistance if you ever need to dig yourself out!