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How to prepare your vehicle for winter in Canada


Seasoned Canadian drivers know the toll a long winter can take on a vehicle. Between the snow, ice, salt and slush on the roads and the wet, cold climate, it’s a tough season for vehicle owners.

While harsh winters are an unavoidable reality of life in Canada, there are steps you can take to prevent damage to your vehicle and to keep you safe on the road.

Here’s a list of 7 things you can do to get your vehicle winter ready.
 

  1. Get a tune-up.

Nobody wants to find themselves on the side of the road in a snowstorm dealing with car or truck trouble. Now’s the perfect time to bring your vehicle to a trusted mechanic for an inspection. Ensure they look at your vehicle’s starter, alternator, heating system, brakes, and lights. Maintenance and repairs should be taken care of as soon as possible.
 

  1. Switch to winter tires.

Winter tires are important to keep you and your vehicle safe when driving in cold, icy weather and on snowy roads. They give you extra traction for better control over your vehicle in winter road conditions and can reduce your braking distance by as much as 25%1.  Winter tires generally last about 3-4 seasons, so ensure they’re still in good shape when you have them installed. Ask your mechanic to check your suspension and wheel alignment while you’re there.
 

  1. Check your wipers.

Maintaining clear visibility is important for safe driving, especially in winter weather. Worn or dried-out wipers should be replaced right away, ideally by a professional. Check that your windshield washer fluid reservoir is full and that your washer fluid can withstand temperatures of -40°C.
 

  1. Put down winter mats.

Winter mats protect your vehicle’s interior against salt and calcium stains while preventing water from pooling on the floor and damaging the carpet. Opt for sturdy rubber mats with wide grooves for the best protection.
 

  1. Consider rust prevention.

Wet, snowy weather and road salt build-up can damage your vehicle’s exterior and leave it vulnerable to rust. Consider investing in a rustproofing treatment from a trusted professional and taking other precautionary measures to protect your vehicle from rust damage.
 

  1. Assemble a winter emergency road kit.

It’s always important to be prepared for a roadside emergency, but winter’s extreme weather and low temperatures make it all the more vital. Consider adding the following winter-specific items to your year-round emergency road kit:
 

  • Shovel

  • Warm gloves and boots

  • Ice scraper

  • Sand, salt or cat litter (non-clumping)

  • Antifreeze and windshield washer fluid suitable for -40°C

 

  1. Review your auto insurance policy.

Winter is an excellent time to review your auto insurance coverage. It’s important to know what you’re covered for before extreme winter weather approaches with increased driving risks.

If you’re shopping for car insurance, contact an OTIP broker at 1-866-561-5559 to get a free quote. Or, if you’re a current OTIP policyholder, call 1-800-267-6847 to review your current policy and inquire about your coverage options.
 

  1. CBC Toronto

  2. Public Safety Canada
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