The cold months are here, and with them, winter driving conditions. Just like we change our clothes to keep ourselves warm, we also need to "winterize" our cars so they are safe for the snowy season. Wondering what are the most important items on the list? Here are seven essential things to prepare your car for winter.
7 Ways to Winterize Your Car This Winter
1. Install Winter Tires
Getting winter tires is possibly the most important item on the car winterizing list. Summer and all-season tires lose their adherence to the ground at 44 degrees, making it dangerous to use them in the colder months. Winter tires are built for the cold and ice, which means safer driving. In fact, one province in Canada mandated winter tires for all vehicles and saw a 5% reduction in winter collisions and a 3% reduction in deaths from winter collisions. Winter tires save lives!
2. Get a General Checkup
Have you ever been stuck on the side of the road with a dead battery in the middle of a snowstorm? Not a very nice situation to be in. This is why smart drivers take their vehicles for a winter check-up before the snowy season begins. It's especially important to get the battery, fluid levels, brake pads, and fuses are all working properly. It's better to change your brake pads BEFORE you rear-end someone on a snowy morning!
3. Install Winter Wiper Blades
Just like tires, summer and winter wiper blades work for different conditions. While summer blades are excellent for wiping away rain, they freeze up in winter, making them useless. A winter wiper blade stays effective even in the coldest weather. Visibility can be low in the winter, so adapted wiper blades are essential.
4. Lubricate Your Locks, Latches, and Doors
Without proper maintenance and lubrication, doors can get stuck due to low temperatures. A simple silicone lubricant can be applied early in the season to ensure you never have to pull too hard to open your door. Use a lubricant with a spray straw to reach inside the door and hatch seals. For emergencies, a lock de-icer can work wonders. Always have one in your coat pocket or purse during the winter.
5. Change Your Floor Mats
If you care about protecting the inside of your car, winter floor mats are essential. All that snow, dirt, and salt can damage your car floors. Don't forget to clean and dry them inside once in a while: water on floor mats can cause frost inside your car.
6. Switch to Winter Windshield Fluid
Not only should you keep your windshield fluid topped up during the winter, but you should also buy a fluid that's adapted to the cold. A summer fluid might freeze on the glass at low temperatures. A winter fluid has special ingredients that keep it from freezing and prevent frost from appearing.
7. Prepare or Buy a Winter Survival Kit
Even the best-prepared drivers can get stuck on the side of the road during the winter. A survival kit ensures you can deal with emergencies as they arise. Recommended items include:
Non-perishable food, blankets, and first aid supplies
Windshield scraper and snow brush
Extra windshield washer fluid
Spare tire, wheel wrench, and jack
Shovel and traction mat, sand, or cat litter
Fuel line antifreeze
Flares and matches or lighter
Tire chains and gloves
Flashlight and extra batteries
Battery jumper cables
Extra clothing and footwear
Stay Extra Safe — Take a Defensive Driving Course
If you have the time and inclination, a winter driving course (on its own or as part of a defensive driving class from Aceable) will refresh your winter driving skills. For those new to winter driving, the skills you will learn are essential for your safety on the road. For those used to driving in the snow, a refresher course can help replace bad driving habits with good ones.