Driver indicating she is ready to go in the winter

4 tips for getting your car winter ready

Driving in Canada during winter can be an ungodly challenge. It does not matter if you live in Ontario or Alberta, you are bound to hit snow-covered roads and slippery conditions at some point during this winter—Torontonians have already been warned that plenty of snow is coming their way.

For those to who love to ski, its great news. For some, this is a disaster. For commuters and even more sporadic drivers, one thing is certain: all of us need to get our car ready for winter. Plus, I vividly remember driving the 401 highway a couple of winters ago and the snowstorm was horrendous. I could not even read the exit signs as all the boards were covered with snow. I took the wrong exit (surprise). Sometimes all you can do is hope for the best but other times, you can definitely prepare before hand and avoid unnecessary problems.

Here are four tips to get your car ready for this winter.

Winter tires

This is the obvious one, but you will be surprised how many Canadians avoid getting winter tires. This is the best recipe for road disaster. I am sure you have heard this before and I will remind everyone again: get your winter tires before temperature drops below 7 C or before the snowfall.

The consistent reaction for not getting winter tires goes something like, “Oh, I have all-weather tires and I am a safe driver.” For starters, please remember all-weather tires are not designed for severe cold. And, no one is a safe driver during a snowstorm. You're kidding yourself if you think otherwise. Be smart. Go get your winter tires. Thank me later.

Prepare an emergency kit

It would be unwise of you not to have an emergency kit in your car especially during winter time. What should you include in the kit? According to this Globe and Mail article, you should include a flashlight, jumper cables, tire sealant, a snowbrush, a collapsible shovel and a first aid kit. I would throw in a blanket and some non-perishable food items as well. This move will help you and your passengers to stay warm and avoid unnecessary starvation.

Get the brakes tested

Akin to winter tires, you need to get your brakes tested. A thorough checkup from a qualified mechanic will ensure your steering and suspension are stable and in control. If you have experience driving in snow-covered roads, you know how important it is when you put your foot on the brake pedal. Always leave extra room for braking when driving on icy roads. Duh.

Check the headlights

Headlights will dim over time. If you are driving an old car, your headlights will need more regular attention. During a snowstorm, if your headlights’ bulbs are burned-out, you will be toast as well. Other drivers wont be able to see you and this can lead to an accident. To keep yourself and others in road safe, you must replace dim or burnt-out bulbs right away.