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Ready your 4x4 or AWD system for cold weather

Like thousands of Canadians, you might drive a four-wheel drive (4x4) or all-wheel-drive (AWD) equipped car, wagon, crossover or truck for its added confidence, capability, and all-season, all-terrain traction.

Whether it's a Ford F-150, GMC Acadia, Subaru Legacy, Mitsubishi Evolution, Audi Quattro or other four-wheel driven ride you call your own, a few maintenance tips will help ensure its powertrain is in tip-top shape for its busiest season: winter.

Here are some tips to consider ahead of the cold-weather travel season that'll soon be upon us. Your mechanic or dealer service department has more details.


Visual Inspection

In minutes, your favourite mechanic or dealer technician can put your 4x4 or AWD ride into the air on a hoist for a visual check of its components. By examining for leaks, driveshaft issues, CV joint and axle wear or issues with the differentials, a mechanic can quickly address problems or give your ride's powertrain a clean bill of health which means you can rest assured your high-traction travels will be worry-free.

Unusual Sounds
Has your 4x4 or AWD system been making any unusual sounds or sensations when engaging? Most systems of this type, especially in newer rides, engage smoothly and with virtually no noise. If you've experienced any slamming sensations, strange vibrations or unusual noises, now's the time to have the system checked. Remember: Extreme cold and added stress of winter driving has a way of making un-maintained issues rear their heads, and the side of the road isn't where you want to be in the middle of February.

Switch it Up
Have you engaged the Auto or 4-HI setting from your four-wheel drive truck or SUV lately? If not, be sure to give it a try. Be sure the 4x4 system switches between its various modes as outlined in your owner's manual. Any issues, unwelcome sounds or failures to engage should be brought to the attention of your mechanic for a closer look.

Fluids
The four- or all-wheel drive system in your ride has a fluid-change schedule intended to maintain optimal fuel efficiency, durability, operational smoothness, and system effectiveness. Sticking to the service schedule for all fluids related to your AWD/4x4 system will help ensure worry-free travels, long-lasting component life, and can even help improve fuel mileage. If you're unclear on the service requirements of your vehicle's 4x4 or AWD system, talk to your vehicle's dealer service advisor. Note that most Canadians should follow the "severe" duty maintenance schedule, if applicable.

Computer Check
A quick computer system scan by a technician can look for issues with the sophisticated network of computers and sensors that control and regulate your ride's 4x4 or AWD system, as well as its engine and transmission. Not all electronics-related issues pertaining to your ride's powertrain will cause a "Check Engine" light to illuminate, so this check adds additional peace of mind that there are no issues waiting to present themselves.

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WINTER SURVIVAL TIPS