Winterize your vehicle with five cold weather prep tips

snow covered car
It's not exactly snowing outside yet, but now is a great time to get your car ready for the low temps ahead.


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.

winter tire sidewall

Tires

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.

turn signals

Lights

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.

radiator coolant

Fluids

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.

windshield wipers

Windshield wipers

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.

roadside emergency kit

Emergency kit

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.

About the Author

Benjamin Yong's picture

Benjamin Yong is a freelance journalist and communications professional living in Richmond, B.C. He is often found writing about cars and the auto industry, amongst other things, or driving around in his work-in-progress 1990 Mazda MX-5.

Twitter: @b_yong
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