5 Hacks to Prep Your Ride for Winter Driving
We’re getting closer to the year’s end yet the weather feels like early fall. Let’s knock on wood, for we don’t know how much longer the high-single digit temperatures and cloudless skies will last – conditions could change to blizzardy and frigid within a matter of days. With that said, you have to stay ahead of the deep freeze. And that means winterizing not only your home, but also your vehicle. When cars break down in the colder months, it’s often due to drivers who didn’t prep their vehicles for winter driving. Taking your car to the shop to get it fortified for the snow and ice may feel a bit overwhelming, but you’ll feel much safer on the roads when the weather gets wild.
1. Winter tires
Imagine hitting the brakes but your car keeps sliding towards an intersection, and it’s a red light. It happens all the time. Although factors such as speed, road surface, and a driver’s braking habits come into play, the tires on a car also affect a car’s traction and control. That’s why winter tires are a must-have. The tread on these tires grip onto frozen pavement much better than other wheels, considering other tires (such as all-seasons) are virtually useless at temperatures below 7C.
Here’s another thing: slush and uncleared snow. You’ve probably seen cars stuck in ditches during snowstorms before. Snow tires are built to push through dense snow patches and slush, that other tires would have trouble with. While tires made for winter may seem a bit costly, they can save you from the hassles of an accident or collision that would cost you even more to deal with.
2. Wiper blades & fluid
Visibility isn’t something to take lightly in the winter. But so many drivers overlook its importance, by ignoring their wiper blades and wiper fluid. One must ask themselves, “what would I do if I was driving through a blizzard, and my wiper blades were jammed?” or “what if I had no wiper fluid, and there was grime buildup on my windshield was so thick, I couldn’t see through it?” Sounds dangerous, doesn’t it? That’s why it’s vital to inspect your wiper blades and have your wiper fluid topped off before doing any kind of winter driving. Don’t take chances with your visibility in winter. The consequences of doing so could be serious or even tragic if you let it slide.
3. Check your defrosting and heating units
The other side of the visibility coin is window fog. You’ve probably had times where your windows get so foggy, that you can barely see through your windshield, side windows and rear window. And it can be dangerous. You can tell your passengers to hold their breath, but what you really need to is have your defroster and heating units checked. It’s good to know if these parts need fixing. If it takes several minutes or more for fog to dissipate despite having your defroster on, then that’s a tell-tale sign your defrosting unit needs attention. It may be faulty or you could have air leaks around the doors, which brings in extra moisture. Also, tell your mechanic to check if your heater is working at its best. After all, why shiver in the comfort of your own car when you can do that outside?
Your engine is not only susceptible to temperature in the summer (overheating in warm weather), but also in the winter. Brutally cold days are unfriendly to engines, and can also cause corrosion. Filling up with the right amount of antifreeze will prevent engine fluids from freezing, even if the temperature drops to – 40C. You want to have an equal amount of antifreeze and water in your car’s radiator, making it ideal for you to buy a bottle that has a 50:50 ratio of both fluids. You can easily find these at gas stations, auto part retailers and department stores.
5. Emergency supply kits
Now it’s true that having an emergency kit won’t make your car perform any differently. However, a car that’s fully optimized for winter driving isn’t invincible to life. You can still experience a breakdown, or spend a few extra hours on the road because of a snowstorm and the accidents it causes. You’ll need to stay warm, hydrated, and fed. An emergency kit is a lifeline in such situations. Ideally, it will include blankets, a flashlight, a shovel, bottled water, energy snacks, and additional winter gear (such as an extra pair of boots). These items will keep you comfortable if you are ever stranded at a roadside in harsh winter conditions. You’ll be thankful for doing so.
Making it Less Complicated
If you’re a new driver, or haven’t had the habit of winterizing your car, everything mentioned above may seem a bit overwhelming. However, you can make it simple. There are a few steps to take if you find the process a little too hectic for your liking.
Winterizing Your Car Without Stress
- Visit a mechanic to have your vehicle assessed
- Conduct some basic tests (ie. check wiper blades, defroster)
- Consult drivers manual for winter maintenance instructions
- Speak to retailers at automotive stores and retailers with automotive departments
- Ask a friend or family member with “winterizing experience to help you”
Shield Your Car from the Cold
While the skies stay bright, the air remains warm, and the roads are dry, enjoy the outdoors. That all could change overnight – literally. So if you haven’t taken your car for winterizing yet, do so as soon as possible! You don’t want to get caught in a sudden winter storm, that drops thickets of snow and turns your drive into a slip-and slide. Nature is not a force you can control, but one you can withstand. If you’re uncertain of what’s recommended for winter driving prep, then you can always visit your mechanic for advice. They’ll let you know what your car already has or needs to be ready for the seasonal change. Just don’t sit back and let the snow surprise you!