Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November, 2016 and has since been updated.
Show Jack Frost who’s boss
Whether you’re in the Great White North or south of the border, chances are the sun is setting on the fall season and winter is setting in. It’s time to prep your car for icy roads and extreme weather so you and your guests will be ready to tackle whatever Jack Frost throws your way.
Here are some simple — yet critical tips — for winterizing your car.
INSTALL SNOW TIRES
Winter tires can significantly improve grip and traction on wintery roads, both icy and dry. Even if your streets get cleared regularly, if it snows where you live, snow tires are the safest, most reliable choice for secure winter driving. In some provinces, there are insurance providers that offer safety discounts to vehicle owners who use winter tires, while in Quebec, the law requires owners to put snow tires on their cars during the winter months.
CHECK YOUR CENTRAL HEATING
It’s damn cold out there. In addition to including blankets and your winter emergency kit, make sure the heat is pumping strong, and that your defrosting units are working properly for maximum visibility while driving.
INCLUDE A WINTER EMERGENCY KIT
Be sure there’s a snow scraper squirreled away in the trunk, as well as a winter emergency kit to ensure that both you and your guests are safe if winter weather rears its head mid-drive. From flashlights to blankets, read up on everything you should include for a just-in-case kit.
FILL UP ON ANTIFREEZE FLUIDS
Fill your radiator up with the proper amount of antifreeze (50% antifreeze, 50% water), and also make sure your wiper fluid is topped off and uses an anti-freeze formula; wiper fluid can help break up snow and ice collecting on the windshield. Also make sure your wiper blades are up to the task of whatever winter craziness is common to your area.
CHECK YOUR OIL
It’s recommended that you change your oil every three or so months, so definitely check on it before winter sets in fully. Oil tends to thicken up in cold climates, so ask your mechanic if a lower-viscosity oil would be good for your car in the wintertime.
GET A TUNE UP
Cold weather can stress and crack the belts and hoses that keep your car running. We recommend getting a full inspection to ensure your belts, hoses, brakes, suspension, steering, etc. are up to snuff for the inclement conditions ahead.
CHECK YOUR BATTERY
According to the Huffington Post, the average battery life in Canada is less than five years; cold weather puts a lot of pressure on batteries. Get your mechanic to take a look at yours, and consider upgrading if it’s more than five years old. Just to be safe, stash a set of jumper cables in the trunk.
CHECK THAT YOUR VEHICLE REGISTRATION IS VALID
Surprisingly, expired license plates trips up car owners all the time. No harm in double checking that everything’s up to date before renting out your car this winter.