Winter is Coming: Preparing Your New Car for the Great Canadian Winter

Posted by | October 08, 2013 | Maintenance, Ownership | One Comment

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Commuters and Canadian winters have never gotten along. The frosty drop in temperature, the increasing snowfall and the icy roads make the festive season a dangerous one for drivers. So before you rush out to treat your loved ones with presents and turkey dinners, take precaution and put some attention on your vehicles first—because when time comes to make it home for the holidays you want to be certain that you, your passengers and the precious cargo of gifts will have a safe ride back.

Be the 70% of Drivers with Winter Tires

In preparation for winter, most motorists instantly consider purchasing new tires. But often they don’t proceed further than a simple consideration, according to Aviva Canada, 30% of drivers will choose not to swap tires. After all, are winter or snow tires really worth the investment?

Unlike all-season tires, winter tires and snow tires are made with a different type of rubber that remains flexible even in colder conditions. Regular tires grip less effectively in temperature less than -10 degrees C. In addition, snow and winter tires provide more traction by having more treads and deeper grooves.

Don’t mix and match tires. Having two winter tires and two all-season tires will cause more harm to your vehicle than not having any winter tires at all. Driving with two different sets will cause the axels to grip differently—and that may lead to fishtailing or under-steering. This may save you money, but may cost you much more in the end.

Winter and snow tires can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000 for a set of four. Although there isn’t a law enforcing drivers to equip their car with a new set of tires for the winter, drivers who do tend to feel more confident in their ability choose to navigate these snowy roads. An average driver commutes 20,000 kilometer a year, with less than half during the winter months. Since mechanics recommend that drivers swap back to all-season tires when the snow thaws, drivers with winter tires and swap between seasons will often get their money’s worth after two years.

Choosing the Best Motor Oil, An Age Old Dilemma

oilaisleThe engine is what gets the wheels turning and although there is a science to keeping it healthy and rust-free, we’ll just cut to the important details and that is oil. In colder temperature, thinner oil circulates better to lubricate the engine than the thicker kind.
You stand in the motor-oil aisle and see the different brands; synthetic, premium or high-mileage, it’s like the same overwhelming feeling you get while trying to pick the perfect shampoo. So which one is the best for your car in the winter? When in doubt, check your car manual—but 5W30 will work just fine.

Is Rust Prevention Worth the Investment?

A common misconception is that modern vehicles are immune to rust—that is untrue. Rust can happen any time of the year to any vehicle, but because of the increase of salt on the road, vehicles are more likely to be effected during the winter months. So the question goes: is simply taking the car through the wash good enough?

An average car owner pays about $30,000 for their ride over a course of 62 months (study conducted by J.D. Power and Associate); by the time they pay it off they are already seeking a new car. Extending the integrity of a vehicle is a driver’s decision, but know this, rust proofing a vehicle will increase the car’s longevity by 13 years, almost half an average car’s life span.

There are two popular methods to rust proofing your vehicle. One is by spraying a light oil-based material that contains rust inhibitors, lubricants and capillary agents (See Rust Check and Krown). The other method is waxing your vehicle. By doing so you create an extra layer between the metal skin of your car and the oxidizing elements in the air. The Canadian Automobile Association and the Automobile Protection Association recommend drivers use the oil-based method instead of the waxing, because waxing may in fact trap moisture.

Always be Prepared

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Imagine being stuck on a desolate highway in the middle of the night during a snowstorm, sounds like a nightmare doesn’t it? To avoid that horrific imagining, it is important to prepare your vehicle with more than just tires and oil. Even the best vehicles can find themselves in tough stops during Canadian winters, so drivers should have a few supplies as they try to get out of a jam or await roadside assistance.

Along with a fully charged cellphone, drivers should include in their vehicle an emergency kit containing: blankets, extra clothing, shovel, ice scrapper/snow brush, snacks, water, windshield wiper fluid, flashlight, extra battery, first aid kit, waterproof matches/lighters, jumper cables and a bag of sand or kitty litter.

Keeping the gas tank full will also help reduce the chances of gas line freezing over due to water vapours and condensation. And frequent checks to your brakes, tire pressure and battery life never hurt anybody either.

Winter service vehicles can only do so much. Highways and main roads might get a heavier seasoning of salt, but residential roads are often neglected and can often cause the most damages and degradation to vehicle. Even though your car, truck or van is suped-up for hazardous conditions, the best way to protect your vehicle and avoid accidents is by reducing speed, keeping your distance and driving safely.

Happy winter driving, Canada and let us know how you’re preparing before the first snow fall in the comments below:

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