Winter Driving Preparation Checklist
By Integra Tire Canada
Winter is coming and it brings with it fun and memories, but also added danger for drivers. In recent years, many Canadian regions have been hit with heavy snow and abnormally long cold snaps. In this guide, we’ll discuss a few ways you can ensure you’re ready for everything winter throws at you.
1. Get Your Winter Tires Installed
It goes without saying that winter tires are a critical part of your safety while driving in snowy and icy conditions. Winter tires are built with a special rubber compound that is meant to remain grippy and flexible in the cold icy conditions, and give improved stopping, cornering, and maneuverability. Winter tires are simply a must in most Canadian cities.
Always plan to book your winter tire changeover a few weeks in advance. Tire shops begin booking well in advance of the snow fall (sometimes 2-3 weeks out). Additionally, if you need new winter tires, your shop will need time to order a new set. This is especially important now, as there is an inventory shortage on many consumer goods; tires are no exception. You can get ahead of the curve by inspecting your winter tires well in advance of your changeover. Look for any punctures, damage, and measure the tread depth to ensure you have the recommended 5/32 inches of tread left.
2. Ensure Your Battery Is In Good Condition
The winter months can put an extra strain on your vehicle’s battery. Your battery is made up of liquid electrolytes that interact with lead plates; this reaction creates an electrical charge. When the weather is cold, the chemical reaction slows, and a higher charge is needed to start your vehicle. As batteries age, their ability to hold a charge decreases, and thus, older batteries have a harder time starting your vehicle in the cold. There are some ways to combat this:
- Park in a warm garage or parkade if available.
- Plug in your vehicle’s block heater whenever possible.
- Use a battery blanket.
Contact your nearest Integra Tire to have your battery tested. These tests are simple, and will determine your battery’s ability to hold a charge. Batteries typically last 3-4 years. After this point, their ability to hold a charge is significantly reduced.
3. Check Your Wiper Blades
Winter driving is difficult and requires your full attention. The last thing you want is reduced visibility caused by ineffective wiper blades. Check your wipers closely for cracks and any separation of the rubber from the blade. If you aren’t using winter-grade wipers, consider upgrading. Winter wipers are much more rugged, and built with a protective layer of rubber that ensures they will work even in icy conditions. Regular wipers are much thinner and susceptible to freeze and stop working in winter conditions.
4. Check Your Fluids
Your vehicle’s fluids play a critical role in its operation, especially in the winter. There are four major fluids. Ensure all fluids are topped off and you have had them flushed in conjunction with your vehicle’s recommended maintenance schedule.
- Antifreeze – Antifreeze is an engine coolant mixed with water to help regulate your vehicle’s engine temperature. Antifreeze does exactly what the name implies; it ensures your vehicle coolant does not freeze in your vehicle and crack pipes and hoses.
- Oil – Engine oil lubricates your engine’s many moving parts and prevents damage. Oil plays a critical part in starting your vehicle – the thicker and dirtier it is, the more difficult it is for your engine to turn over. Ensure your oil is at the recommended level and changed regularly. Your local Integra Tire may also recommend moving to a lower viscosity oil for the colder months. Call your local Integra Tire to discuss this further with your service advisor.
- Brake Fluid – Brake failure or ineffective braking at any time can be catastrophic, especially on icy roads. Check to ensure your brake fluid is topped off and debris-free.
- Wiper Fluid – Winter driving can lead to a lot of dirt and grime on your windshield – ensure your wiper fluid is topped off with a winter-grade wiper fluid so you’re ready to clean your windshield at a moment’s notice.
5. Create A Winter Emergency Kit
Winter brings with it an increased risk of getting stuck in your vehicle. An emergency winter kit contains the essential items need in case you’re stranded. A basic kit should include:
- Non-perishable food items, such as power bars and dried fruits.
- Water. Replace it frequently and store in a bottle that will not crack when frozen.
- Blankets, clothing, and gloves. If you’re stuck for extended periods of time, or have to walk in the cold, you’ll want to keep warm with extra layers. Consider adding an extra set of boots to this kit, especially if you wear non-winter friendly footwear like heels.
- Flashlight and matches.
- A small collapsible shovel.
- Jumper cables.
- Extra phone charger.
- A first-aid kit.
- An empty gas can.
Many retailers sell pre-made kits. You can even find them on amazon.ca.
6. Additional Items
Some additional things to check are:
- If you have a towing subscription, make sure that it is current, and you have your membership card with you at all times.
- Check that your spare tire and jack are still in your vehicle and in working condition.
- Buy a new window scraper/snow brush.
- Prepare yourself for the additional travel time caused by icy roads, and adjust your schedule if needed.
Questions? Our Advisors are Happy to Help!If you have questions about anything you've read in this resource page, contact your nearest Integra Tire dealer for more information. We are passionate in assisting our customers make the best choices to keep their vehicles in tip-top shape and keep their families safe.
About UsIntegra Tire is a network of independent tire, automotive, and maintenance dealers across Canada.