The first three are tires, tires and tires. Or should that be four? Tires are responsible for getting you up that snow-covered hill, slowing down when traffic is ahead of you and maneuvering where you need to. All-Wheel Drive (AWD) is great for helping with acceleration, but not much use when braking. There really is no substitution for the soft tire compound with extra siping (those small grooves in the tread) found on winter tires. Even winter tires aren’t much use if there is no tread left though so it’s important to replace your snow tires if needed.

Concerned about the cost of new winter tires? Since January 1, 2016, all insurance companies in Ontario must offer a rate reduction to customers who purchase and install winter tires. This will by no means offset the cost of them, but it may help to soften the blow.

Your battery is the next part. If your car is slow cranking in the warm summer months, then there will most likely be no cranking as the temperature drops. A good battery is one of the most important items to have to ensure your car will start when you need it to. Get it checked by a service technician at any dealer, chain repair store or small garage. Most quick lube stores will even check your battery as part of their lube, oil and filter service package.

Don’t forget! Use a brush and scraper to clear snow and ice from your vehicle’s roof to ensure you’re not creating blizzard-like conditions for drivers behind you.

Lastly, pay attention to your vehicle’s fluids, especially fuel and coolant. They should all be topped up and of the correct concentration (if applicable).

Keep your fuel level high to reduce the chance of water collecting and freezing. That will also give you extra run time with the heater on if you happen to get stuck in the snow and are waiting for a tow truck.

Have your coolant checked before the weather turns too cold. Used in the summer months to prevent the engine from overheating, it’s also referred to as antifreeze in the winter. A mixture of 50/50 (equal parts coolant and water) is the best ratio for a great balance between the boiling point of the summer and the freezing point of the winter. Make sure it isn’t a ‘ready mix’ before adding water. You can have this tested at a local repair facility; or, for a small price, you can purchase your own tester at your favourite parts supplier.

Trevor Williams

About the Expert

Trevor Williams, RSE, graduated from two transportation programs at Fanshawe, Motive Power Technician – Automotive and General Motors Automotive Service Education. He worked in industry for ten years at a local dealer prior to teaching at Fanshawe and is now the coordinator of the Motive Power Technician programs.


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