Cold Weather Vehicle Tips: Beyond Winter Tires

We recently covered winter tires and the importance of switching away from your summer tires when the temperature drops under 7 degrees. However, tires aren’t the only way you can prepare for the coldest season of the year.

One of the most important actions you can take is adjusting your driving style. Your vehicle’s stopping distance will suffer in wet and snowy conditions, making it crucial to leave as much following distance as possible between you and other vehicles on the road. For increased traction it is also helpful to slow down for turns and accelerate more gradually when moving again from a full stop. Drive for the conditions, and keep in the mind the speed limit is the maximum recommended speed. On days with wet conditions, snowy conditions, or poor visibility, you are better off maintaining a lower speed. If you lose traction, do not accelerate or brake, but instead steer in the direction you want to go until your vehicle’s trajectory has been corrected.

A vehicle emergency kit is a great item to have in your vehicle, not only for winter but also year round. An emergency kit will typically include items like jumper cables, a flashlight, and a warning triangle. They may also include cold-weather specific items like gloves and blankets. Your kit may also include water and food, and if it doesn’t you may want to consider adding backup provisions to your vehicle, particularly for longer trips. Keep a snow scraper and shovel in your vehicle so you can remove all snow from your vehicle before driving and shovel surrounding snow if necessary.

One often overlooked aspect of winter driving is your engine oil. Synthetic oil is beneficial in colder weather, remaining fluid for easier starts. In some cases, oil can thicken to the point where your engine will not start. A block heater can also be used to warm engine coolant and help your vehicle start. In most cases, vehicles failing to start is not a huge issue in the Lower Mainland due to the area’s temperate climate, but synthetic oil remains a good option for better performance in cold weather, while a block heater may be necessary in other parts of the province and country.

Finally, be prepared to contact help when needed. Make sure you have a fully-charged mobile phone with you. If you’re going to be driving in areas with poor cell service, consider other options like a satellite phone. OnStar is also a great option to stay connected and access help when you need it with helpful advisors, crash assistance, and more.