Winter driving is always a challenge, with cold weather and unpredictable snow storms creating havoc on our roads and streets. Just like buying winter clothes to get you through the season, ensuring your vehicle is prepared goes a long way to ensuring you have a safe winter drive.
Cold temperatures make it difficult for engines to work properly, snow limits tire traction and salt causes rust and gravel pits on the exterior paint. You can help protect your car be winterizing it inside and out before the beginning of the season.
- Place snow tires on your vehicle – Snow tires will increase traction and reduce your chances of slipping on slick surfaces.
- Check your tire pressure – Cold temperatures cause tire air pressure to drop.
- Check your car battery – Extreme temperatures can cause your vehicle’s battery to operate at less than 50 per cent. If your battery is over three years old, have it tested.
- Check the antifreeze mixture – The ideal mixture of antifreeze and water in your radiator is 50:50.
- Check your four-wheel drive system for malfunctions – Check that your system engages and disengages properly and does not make any unusual noises when you start it.
- Change the oil in your engine and check the viscosity grade – To reduce the risk of problems with your engine oil, place thinner oil in your engine before the cold weather season.
- Have belts and hoses inspected
- Inspect wipers and refill wiper fluid
- Place a roadside emergency supply kit in your car
Check the highway hotline before heading out on long trips to see what kind of highway conditions you might experience. Remember that large trucks, semis and snow plows can create mini blizzards that can seriously reduce visibility.
In the city, roads and streets can be icy, especially at traffic lights and corners. Drive cautiously, leave lots of stopping distance and keep an eye on other drivers around you. If you are prepared, you can reduce your speed instead of relying on your brakes to avoid collisions.
If you do get in an accident, contact SGI or Henderson Insurance to find out how to make a claim in case of damage to your vehicle or to other vehicles involved in the accident. The online claims process is quicker than before, but remember that winter is one of SGI’s busiest times for accident claims. Have a backup plan in place in case you are without a vehicle for some time.
With a bit of planning and preparation, winter driving is manageable and less stressful for everyone. Drive safe!