8 Simple Tips for Looking After Your Vehicle this Winter

Winterizing your car

Winter’s just around the corner here in Victoria, and while the west (wet?) coast may escape a traditional Canadian winter, BC drivers aren’t exempt from the hazards of cold weather. Whether it’s a struggling engine or a surprise ice patch, dropping temperatures mean extra challenges for car owners everywhere.

Fortunately some simple care can go a long way in keeping your vehicle running smoothly this winter. Here are some of our favourite cold weather maintenance tips for cars!

  1. Check Your Tire Pressure

We’ve covered the difference between all-season, all-weather and winter tires previously, but another winter tire tip most drivers forget about is to check their pressure.  In colder months, tires lose inflation faster thanks to cooler temperatures shrinking air molecules and pushing them closer together.

Fortunately, this problem is easily solved by checking pressure at regular intervals (at least once a month) and keeping tires inflated to the proper psi. Not only will doing this extend the life of your tread, it will also improve your vehicle’s winter handling.

how to check brake lights

  1. Check Your Lights

With grey skies and longer nights comes less visibility. Ensure you can both see and be seen by giving headlights, signals and any other visibility features on your vehicle a quick inspection.

Of course, checking your brake lights on your own isn’t an easy feat.  To save your neck from a lot of unnecessary strain, we recommend using a broom handle to press down on the brake pedal while standing outside your vehicle. A second option is to park with the back of your vehicle pointed against a reflective surface (such as a storefront window) and check for your brake lights through the rear-view mirror.

  1. Put Together an Emergency Kit

Last winter, hundreds of drivers and passengers were stranded in their cars overnight after freezing rain closed several BC highways.

While we advise carrying a vehicle emergency kit year round, it’s important to recognize that unpredictable weather conditions can increase your risk of becoming stranded in your vehicle. Round out your kit with additional blankets, water and high energy snacks to keep you and your passengers safe and warm while waiting for rescue.

  1. Watch Your Windshield Wipers

Each year, unsuspecting car owners start their vehicle after a long, cold night only to realise they’ve accidentally left their wipers on.

Unfortunately, operating wipers over a frozen windshield can lead to damaged glass, broken blades or even a blown fuse. To avoid disaster, get into the habit of switching your wipers off as soon as you park, and make sure your windshield is ice free before turning them back on.

Winter windshield Wipers

  1. Upgrade your Antifreeze

While antifreeze is important year round for your vehicle (it helps prevent rust and corrosion), it’s especially important to keep fluid levels maintained in winter.  Keep your engine running smoothly once temperatures hit freezing by increasing the concentration of antifreeze being used. A 60/40 ratio with water is usually sufficient, but colder climates may need a 70% antifreeze 30% water mix.

  1. Use a Block Heater for Your Diesel Engine

At lower temperatures, diesel has a tendency to wax or gel, preventing fuel from firing when your vehicle is started.  To ensure your engine doesn’t stall, it’s important to keep it warm during winter – especially once it’s parked.  Auxillary heaters are a popular option for keeping fluids flowing in cold weather, and most diesel vehicles come equipped with an electric block heater that can easily be plugged in to a nearby outlet. (Consider investing in a good quality extension cord.)

winter driving stuck in ditch

  1. Remove the Snow from Your Vehicle

It may look festive, but leaving snow on your vehicle is a big hazard to those around you. Falling snow can obstruct views, and will quickly become an unexpected road obstacle. Give yourself plenty of time after a snow fall to clear your vehicle, and be sure to remove any piles that accumulate from under your wheels.

  1. Give the Gift of Maintenance

We understand that everyone’s busy this time of year, so why not make your winter maintenance a little easier with our Seasonal Service Special. From now until February 28, get an oil, lube and filter change, plus a tire rotation and multi-point visual inspection all for $99.95!

Did you know we also sell gift certificates? Share the maintenance love with your friends and family.  Drop by our location at 517 Kelvin Road or give us a call at 250-475-2000 to arrange your gift today!

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