Vancouverites may be clinging onto the last vestiges of summer with this latest bout of favourable weather, but chilly and wet conditions are inevitably on the way as we approach fall and winter. To avoid being stuck out in the cold on the side of the road, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for the upcoming frigid conditions beforehand. We asked the experts to share their five top tips on getting your vehicle winter ready now.
The single most crucial safety factor is the condition of your tires. Winter tires are recommended for the season, identifiable by a symbol on the sidewall that looks like a snowflake inside a mountain. The problem with commonly-run all season tires is that they start to lose traction and flexibility as the temperature dips down to 7 C, which is when winter rubber performs at its best.
Ensure all exterior lights are functioning. Proper operation of the headlights will signal to pedestrians and other vehicles on the road that you are approaching them, and will also assist you in seeing where you are going. Brake lights alert drivers behind you that you are stopping, and turn signals are self-explanatory but are also responsible for acting as your hazard lights in emergencies.
Something overlooked quite often is fluid levels. Antifreeze, engine and transmission oil and power steering and windshield washer fluid should all be inspected. The only protection your car’s engine has against cold and freezing is the antifreeze, therefore it is very important to follow the recommendations laid out in the owner’s manual. Remember to always let the radiator cool down before working on it.
Make it a habit to regularly check your windshield wiper blades — we tend to forget about these until we need them. The blades should replaced once in the winter and again in the spring.
Travel with a roadside safety kit: it should contain items like a flashlight, new batteries, gloves, dry food, bottled water, road flares and emergency markers. Other good items to have on hand are rain boots, a thick, waterproof jacket and a small blanket that will all come in handy during a breakdown.