10 Ways To Get Your Car Ready For Winter

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by Enoch Omololu


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This guide is a checklist for your car’s winter maintenance, and it will help you drive around safely when the cold season arrives.

One thing I may never really get used to in Canada is the harsh winters we experience in places like Winnipeg where I live.

Harsh winters are a part and parcel of living in Canada, especially if you live in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and certainly in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.

The other provinces can also be bad, depending on how the winter plays out in any year.

If you live in any of the provinces above, you should and need to consider winterizing your vehicle for winter to avoid ugly surprises.

Winter is coming.

Ned Stark (Game of Thrones)

10 Simple Winter Car Care Tips

1. Switch to Winter Tires

Winter tires perform at their best when the temperature drops below 7⁰C.

Although all-season tires marked as M+S (Mud and Snow) can legally be used in winter in most provinces, it’s not advisable. Winter tires are specifically made for harsh winter conditions, have more traction, and will stop quicker in an emergency.

Also, make sure the air pressure is at recommended levels. Check air pressure on a monthly basis and adjust as required.

2. Get an Oil Change

If you have not had an oil change done, now is the time to do so!

There are specific oil types recommended for winter conditions because they have less viscosity (thinner) and will help the engine work more efficiently.

3. Check the Battery

Batteries generally die after about 4 years of use or earlier when used mostly in hot weather.

Have your battery tested and ensure it has enough power to start your engine on a frigid -35⁰C morning. Check the cable connections, remove corrosion, and tighten to ensure good contact.

4. Replace Windshield Wiper Blades

Wiper blades break down over time and should be regularly examined for wear and tear. There are also wiper blades specifically designed for handling snow, ice, and other stresses of the winter months.

5. Fill Up the Washer Fluid

If you are in the habit of using water as your windshield washer during the spring and winter months, beware!

For winter, you need a washer fluid that can withstand cold conditions, ideally down to -40⁰C.

Related: Rules for Winter Tires in Canada

6. Ensure the Block Heater Works

Check that your car’s block heater is working before winter.

If you park within a well-insulated or heated garage, plugging in your car may not be required. However, outside parking in temperatures below -15⁰C for extended periods requires that you warm up your car engine for a few hours.

This will ensure the engine starts up and warms up faster.

Plug in your car for about 4 hours before starting up. A block heater timer can help you save on the amount of electricity used.

7. Check the Coolant

Ensure the coolant in your car is at appropriate levels and in excellent condition. The coolant you are using should have the right ratio of anti-freeze to water e.g. 50:50 or higher.

8. Install Car Floor Mats

Rubber mats designed for your car’s make and model can help to hold the snow that you bring into your car.

They are easy to clean up and should be cleaned/drained often to avoid fogging when the snow melts.

9. Do a General Tune-Up

Fall is a good time to tune up your car. Check the brakes, belts, hoses, filters, ignition system, spark plugs, heater/defrosting systems, lights, etc.

10. Pack an Emergency Kit

Emergencies happen! Always be prepared for getting stuck in a snowstorm or your car breaking down when you are out in the middle of nowhere.

Carry an emergency kit stocked with first aid supplies, flashlight, thick blanket, booster cables, ice scraper, a small shovel, snow brush, emergency reflectors, candles, matches/lighter, etc. I also add granola bars!

Related Posts

What are your winter car care tips?

Winter is fast coming! Here are the 10 easy ways to get your car ready and save money! #winter #car #maintenance #DIY #savemoney #wintertips #carmaintenancetips #winterchecklist

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Enoch Omololu

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert and a veterinarian. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School (Scotland) and has completed several courses and certificates in finance, including the Canadian Securities Course. He also has an MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan. Enoch has a passion for helping others win with their personal finances and has been writing about money matters for over a decade. His writing has been featured or quoted in The Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, Wealthsimple, Financial Post, Toronto Star, Credit Canada, MSN Money, National Post, CIBC, and many other personal finance publications.

His top investment tools include Wealthsimple and Questrade. He earns cash back on purchases using KOHO, monitors his credit score for free using Borrowell, and earns interest on savings through EQ Bank.

10 thoughts on “10 Ways To Get Your Car Ready For Winter”

  1. @Steve. I bet that saves you money and reduces your chances of experiencing unexpected car breakdowns and equipment failures. I do jealous those living in BC and the few other places in Canada where they experience milder weather 😉

  2. Awesome tips. Here in the Middle East winter is coming and this is just what I needed.

  3. Hi Roman,

    I agree that plugs may need to be checked, especially if you are driving an older vehicle. Washing the car regularly will help prevent rust from road salting as well. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. One more note! My father once said, that better to store the car at the temperature lower than -5. If you have your car in the garage in winter at positive temperatures the ice and snow are melting and the car suffers from road salting. At low temperatures, road salting does not affect the car as much.

    • Great point, Roman!

  5. In Vancouver everyone thinks that having ‘all seasons’ are good enough, until I start seeing all the cars slip and slide on the road. I use winter tires on my little Honda FIT and I absolutely love them! They make me feel invincible in the snow.

    • True, GYM. Winter tires definitely help. Even in places where the snow is not that much, the frequent changes in winter temperatures and ice forming on the roads, make winter tires a necessity.

  6. This reminds me… really need an oil change, and an emergency kit. I better get on that! Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  7. Hey- Enoch. You have glossed here some outstanding winter car maintenance tips. I genuinely feel glad after discovering such a purposeful post. Whether you agree or not, you can’t change the truth and the truth is winter car maintenance is one of such task that can’t be overlooked. It’s truly significant to make sure that the vehicle is ready for the inclement weather conditions, and safe for the harsher driving situations. Still, I don’t know why many vehicle owners are avoiding this repeatedly. Telling honestly, this is nothing but a sign of irresponsibility and an absence of tenderness towards their asset. Thus, on a final note, I can say that winter maintenance is seasonal car care. As a car owner you should not avoid it, rather you should carry out efficiently to extend the lifespan of your acquisition.

  8. No doubt, the white time gives you the coolness and a pleasing ambiance to live in. But on the contrary, it causes a lot of damage to your vehicle. The road salt, heavy snow, and wintry atmosphere have the ability to affect your vehicle’s paintwork, tires, and engine performance seriously. Thus, performing the winter car care assignments is a must to keep your old faithful in the pristine order and allow performing smoothly in the harsher wintry climate. It will not be easy for you to execute all the maintenance undertakings on your own. Better you should schedule an appointment with a reputable auto repair shop, where the polished car-geeks can perform all the winter auto maintenance errands effectively.

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