- Helping you drive happy

Getting your car ready for winter is about more than just your tires

Follow these 10 winter maintenance and safe driving tips By ,

With the collaboration of Speedy Glass

According to the Ontario Ministry of Transport, in 2015, there were 7,271 more collisions in December than in May. In addition to the usual seasonal tire changes, there is also a plethora of other precautionary measures that drivers can take to prepare their cars for harsh Canadian winters.

In business since 1947, Speedy Glass has seen it all. Their team has assembled a few tips to help drivers prepare their cars for the winter months in order to reduce the risk of accidents.

Safer is better during the winter
It is important to assess the entire vehicle and determine potential problem areas while keeping an inventory of the necessary winter upgrades your vehicle will need in order to run smoothly and safely once the intense cold hits.

In addition to having the sparkplugs, brakes, suspension and wheel alignment verified by a professional, it is important to also think of your headlights!

A driver with damaged headlights will on average lose four seconds of reaction time in an emergency situation. Properly functioning headlights also allow you to see road signs from a distance of 115 metres versus 50 metres for damaged ones. That additional distance could also surely help a driver react better to that deer that might suddenly cross the highway!

Collisions with animals on highways are on the rise. In fact, according to the most recent findings by Statistics Canada, accidents causing material damage have gone up 40% in five years. With over 20 million cars currently on Canadian roads, this type of accident could very well continue to rise in frequency.

Measures must also be taken regarding chips in windshields. In the winter, even the smallest windshield chip can become a full-on crack due to the temperature differential of -40 Celsius outdoors and +20 Celsius inside a vehicle. In addition to affecting a driver’s visibility, an improperly installed windshield can also impact the windshield’s ability to withstand airbags in the case of a collision, or, even worse, it can compromise the integrity of car’s roof in a serious accident. Most insurance companies completely cover the repair of cracks in your windshield. Neglecting to repair a crack may result in having to replace the windshield, and in such a situation the car owner would be obliged to pay the value of his deductible.

Snow and ice must be removed from the windshield and the wiper fluid reservoir must be well-filled. Nothing is more dangerous than reduced visibility due to winter precipitation and the accumulation of salt on your windshield. By virtue of The Highway Traffic Act, Section 74: “No person shall drive a motor vehicle upon a highway, (a) unless the windshield and windows either side of the compartment containing the steering wheel (all windows)… afford the driver a clear view to the front and side of the motor vehicle.” Failure to comply with this requirement can result in a driver receiving a $110 ticket.

10 Safety Tips

1. Tire pressure
A vehicle’s tires must be filled adequately to offer the best possible performance and grip on the road. It is important to know that each time the temperature drops by 6 degrees Celsius, the tire pressure drops by one pound per square inch. It is for this reason that professionals suggest increasing the pressure of your tires from 2-4 psi during the winter months.

2. Maximize visibility
Few people know this, but windshield wiper manufacturers recommend they be replaced twice per year in order to ensure their efficiency. Anti-rain treatments are another way to ensure maximum visibility. This type of treatment is especially useful during the winter given the way ice can affect the water-repellent efficiency of the windshield; it’s simply much easier to remove ice from a treated windshield.

3. Fuel
Driving with a low level of fuel can be damaging to your vehicle in cold weather. Keeping your fuel level high reduces the risk of any of the ducts freezing. The trunk of your vehicle should also include a winter kit consisting of, at minimum, a shovel, adhesion plaques, jumper cables, a thermal blanket and a flashlight - items that could prove to be essential in an emergency situation. A first-aid kit is also important to have on hand.

4. Cabin filter
Likely due to the fact that it has only been introduced in vehicles over the past decade, the cabin filter must be changed regularly. It plays a key role in the quality of the air in your car, especially during the winter when the humidity level fluctuates so greatly and the air quality depends fully on this filter.

5. Carpets
When water soaks the carpets in a car, the humidity level in the vehicle rises considerably, possibly leading to fogging up of the windows. Good-quality rubber carpets held avoid this problem, especially Weathertech carpets that allow for maximum protection.

6. Thermal shock
The constant variation of temperature levels both inside and outside the car have a considerable effect on not only a vehicle’s windshield but also other parts of the car. A progressive warming up of the car helps avoid certain minor repairs. Speedy Glass recommends a vehicle be warmed up for approximately three minutes before taking the road.

7. Battery
Cold temperatures can weaken your battery. Make sure as well that your battery has no trace of corrosion and that the cables are firmly fastened. Verification by a professional at the beginning of each season will help ensure worry-free starts.

8. Remote starters
A remote car starter allows the driver to avoid having to brave the cold while also allowing the car to gradually warm up. New technologies even allow for the remote starting of a car with a smartphone.

9. Brakes
It is far from optimal to drive on icy roads with brakes that are not in perfect condition, making frequent check-ups essential.

10. Anti-freeze
Anti-freeze is a crucial element in maintaining the optimal temperature while a vehicle is on the road. Professionals recommend a complete emptying of the cooling system on a regular basis.