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 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 and hassle down the road. As always, check your owner’s manual for specific details about your car’s components and how to conduct these checks safely.
1. Prepare a winter emergency kit
Stashing a winter emergency kit in your vehicle, especially when the cold weather arrives, offers peace of mind when you’re driving in bad weather, not to mention how thankful you'll be to have it if you ever get stranded somewhere.
Some winter survival kit items might include:
Get Back On The Road
Clear Snow & Ice
2. Prepare your tires
In some regions (B.C. and Quebec), winter tires are mandatory at this time of the year. In every other province and territory, it is strongly recommended to have the right tires if you plan to drive in wintertime conditions. Discover more winter tire buying tips here.
But whether you choose to swap out 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 and tear, diminished performance, and even an accident.
3. 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 exterior.
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 on the road? Slushy snow and rock salt could damage the bodywork. To prevent this, regular winter car washes and even protective waxing during these months will help keep your paint job pristine.
4. Under the hood checks
When it’s time to pop the hood, there are two things to keep in mind: the battery and the fluids. Remember, if you plan to DIY any of the tasks mentioned in this article, always check your owner’s manual for guidance.
If you’re unfamiliar with how to perform any or all of these checks, you might feel more confident letting a professional handle them for you.
If you can’t remember the last time you checked your battery, you might want to do it soon. Aged car batteries often die when temperatures dip, so get ahead of the problem with a quick battery 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.
You want to make sure your fluids are checked (and replenished if needed) when the calendar approaches the colder months. Oil, coolant, brake fluid, and window washer fluid should all be on your winter to-do list.
The easiest under-the-hood task that most drivers can do themselves is topping up their windshield washer fluid reservoir. You can buy winter-ready washer fluid in any auto retail store or you can make your own with a mixture of rubbing alcohol, water, and dish soap.
5. Replace your wiper blades
Visibility is extremely important when you’re on the road. Unfortunately, wiper blades lose their effectiveness faster than most people think.
Once you start noticing streaks on the windshield after every swipe, it's usually time to replace your blades with new ones, 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.
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.