A Maintenance Guide for Your Vehicle
A glimpse of the first snow flurries of the season can give drivers a sense of dread. Visions of scraping ice off windshields, skidding on snow-covered roads and struggling to start your car on ice-cold mornings can make you long for spring before winter has even started.
Instead of contemplating hibernation for the next several months, take some time to ensure your vehicle is ready for the snow and cold, even if you aren’t.
First and foremost, have four matching winter tires installed. They start working below 7 degrees Celsius, and are designed to give you the best traction available in very low temperatures, and in snow and icy conditions, according to Endras BMW in Ajax. Braking distance for winter tires can be up to 25 per cent shorter than all-season tires, according to the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).
And make sure there is a good amount of tread on your snow tires. The experts at Endras BMW say that if it gets close to 3/32”, you should replace the tires.
Make an appointment for a winter checkup for your car before the forecast is predicting a blizzard. This could include any of the following: belts, hoses, radiator, oil, lights, brakes, exhaust system, ignition system and heater.
But the most important part to check is the battery. The average battery lifespan is three to five years, but harsh winter weather can shorten that time. CAA suggests what to watch for so you will know if it’s time for a new battery: your vehicle is slow to start; you hear grinding, clicking or buzzing when you turn on the ignition; your headlights dim when you idle the vehicle, but brighten when you rev the engine; or your vehicle has stalled before.
There are also steps you can take at home to maintain your car. Replace any wiper blades that do not clear the windshield in a single swipe. Keep your gas tank at least half full. And frequently check the tire pressure. Tire pressure is often reduced in cold weather, which can affect mileage and traction.
Finally, everyone should keep an emergency kit in their car. Here are the essentials, according to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO).
- Shovel, ice scraper and snow brush
- Bag of sand or kitty litter for traction if you get stuck
- Windshield washer fluid
- Booster cables and tow ropes
- Road flares or warning lights
- Fuel line antifreeze
- Fire extinguisher
- Small tool kit
- Blankets, extra clothing and footwear
- Bottled water and energy bars
- Flashlight and batteries
- First aid kit
- Smart phone and charger
- Candles and waterproof matches or lighter
The experts at Endras BMW also recommend a puncture repair kit in a can, which seals the tire temporarily and can be helpful in stormy weather. They also suggest that you pack a tool such as the LifeHammer, which can help you cut a seatbelt or break a window so you can get out of the vehicle in an emergency.
Slip, Sliding Away
So Old Man Winter throws his worst at you on the one day you can’t stay home. Whether you have to drive in extreme cold, snow, freezing rain, or a brutal combination of all three, here are some tips to make the trip less dangerous.
- Check the forecast, leave early and dress appropriately for the weather.
- Remove all snow and ice from your vehicle.
- Drive slowly and leave double or triple the normal space between you and the vehicle ahead of you so you have extra room to stop. Never pass a snowplow.
- On snowy roads, drive in the tire tracks of the car ahead of you — this usually gives you more control of your vehicle.
- Watch out for shady areas, bridges and overpasses because ice and snow may linger there longer than in sunny spots.
- If you start to skid, remember to look where you want to go and drive in the direction of the skid. Skidding is usually caused by driving too fast for the conditions, accelerating too quickly or braking too hard.
- If you would like to learn more advanced techniques, contact a winter driving school and take a few lessons.
- Download the brochure Winter Driving from Transport Canada and CAA at www.caa.ca/working-for-you/safe-driving/winter-driving/.
Endras Automotive Group,
Lakeridge Premium Automobile, 100 Achilles Rd, Ajax
905-619-5522 • firstname.lastname@example.org