This week I noticed frost setting in for the first time here in Southern Ontario, a sure sign that winter is right around the corner complete with snow, ice and questionable snow conditions.
Every year winter brings a number of completely avoidable accidents – a combination of neglecting to drive to road conditions and failure to ensure that your vehicle is in proper winter condition. Not only does the condition of your vehicle impact your own personal safety, but it can also impact your family, friends, loved ones and anyone else that may be on the road. It is your responsibility to take the necessary steps to get your vehicle winter-ready.
Keep yourself safe this winter with these 10 tips:
- Take your vehicle in for a basic tune-up.
It is recommended that you take your vehicle in approximately every 30,000 miles for an inspection and tune-up, but with the winter weather around the corner now may be just the time. Have your mechanic look everything over including the spark plugs, belts, hoses and fuel lines.
- Check the condition of your battery.
In order for your vehicle’s engine to start in the colder weather, you need to have a properly functioning battery. This can be done either by testing your batter at home with a voltmeter or taking it to a manic to be tested.
- Test your heater and defroster.
The last thing you want to do is be stuck in the cold of winter with your heat or defrost not working in your vehicle. While it is still warm enough to do something about it, take a moment to test that both are functioning.
- Keep a de-icer on hand.
One problem that we often face in the cold weather happens when the car doors and windows freeze shut. If you are at home the fix can be as simple as using some warm water, however, if you are on the move you will want to keep a glycerin de-icer available.
- Stay up to date on your oil changes.
While this is something you should be doing throughout the year, it is especially important during the winter months. Pay careful attention to what oil is being used as there are differences between those that function best in the summer and those that are formulated for the winter.
- Check and, if necessary, change your tires.
The condition of your tires can have a huge impact on your ability to maintain proper traction during icy road conditions. Ensure that your tires are in good shape, not worn out. If you live somewhere that is prone to significant ice and snowfall you may be best served switching your tires out for snow tires. Don’t forget to check your tire pressure to ensure that they are properly inflated.
- Inspect your windshield wipers.
With winter comes winter storms, and they are not something that you want to play around with when it comes to your visibility. In order to ensure that you will be seeing clearly out your windshield all winter check your wipers for signs of wear and tear, and replace them if required.
- Ensure you are using a winter antifreeze.
If you take the time to look at the antifreeze options, there are different ratios to consider. While a 50/50 ratio of coolant to water may be perfect during the warmer weather, you should opt for a 60/40 ratio when the temperatures drop.
- Stock up your vehicle’s emergency kit.
If you haven’t already put together an emergency kit in your vehicle, now is the time to make this a reality. Your emergency kit should include a first aid kit, snowbrush, plastic snow scraper, salt or cat litter (I prefer the cat litter), a shovel, a flashlight with extra batteries and a warm blanket among other things.
- Keep your gas tank topped up
There is no worse time to run out of gas than in the dead cold of winter. Why take that risk when you can easily avoid it by keeping your tank topped up? Rather than waiting for the tank to reach empty, keep it filled to at least ½ a tank at all times. This also helps you to avoid challenges caused by condensation freezing in the fuel lines.
What tips do you follow each year to make winter safety a priority? Are you ready for the coming winter weather?