BY MATT LINSEMAN
The winter season is your vehicle’s worst enemy, especially if you don’t winterize it.
There are some steps you should take before the first snowfall if you want to keep your vehicle in good condition all winter long.
There are some important parts that you must prep for the winter to reduce the chance of breaking down and ensuring you and your vehicle are safe to drive on slippery roads.
“Snow tires are probably the first thing people think of when it comes to preparing for winter driving,” said Kevin Bell, a professor in the motive power programs at Conestoga College. “Once the temperature has dropped below 7 C consistently, it’s time to put on your snow tires.”
Make sure that they are suitable for use in colder weather and low traction conditions like snow and ice. If they aren’t, purchase a good set of winter tires because they are worth the extra cost.
Checking your fluids and changing them if necessary before the snow hits is just as important. Windshield washer fluid is often one that is overlooked. There are summer blends which will freeze around 0 C, effecting visibility. When it comes to the quality of washer fluid, it’s well worth spending the extra money on a better brand.
Wiper blades are also an important tool when driving in snowy conditions. With all of the blasting our windshields take, it’s important that we change them at least annually because the winter season is rough on them and they can wear out more quickly.
Also, you never want to end up stranded due to a dead battery. Conducting a quick test can determine your battery’s charge confirming that you’ll be able to start your vehicle in the cold. Most hardware stores offer a maintainer/charger that can be left connected while your vehicle is in storage.
“The heater in your vehicle typically doesn’t require any type of annual service, but you’ll want to make sure it’s working properly before the deep freeze arrives,” said Bell. “For safety reasons, the defrost setting is the most important and is actually part of a provincial safety inspection. Also, most temperature gauges should be running at the halfway mark once your vehicle has warmed up.”
Motorcycles and other power-sport vehicles need to be winterized as well and there are a few things riders should complete before winter hits. Some important procedures include fogging the engine with oil (which should only be done by professionals), adding a fuel stabilizer to protect the fuel system and changing the oil.
“The corrosion of metal surfaces including internal engine components can be minimized by using fogging oil,” said Matt Lowry, an instructor in the motorcycle and power-sport vehicle program at Conestoga College. “Fogging oil and WD-40 are ideal products for protection and will even prolong the life of rubber components, excluding tires.”
“Once spring rolls around, you should have the vehicle re-inspected for any wear and tear that’s occurred over the winter. This will keep your investment in good condition for the summer months,” said Jeff Oakes, program co-ordinator of the automotive fundamental programs at Conestoga College.
“Also, don’t forget to remove your winter tires. The softer tread design does not last long on dry pavement.”
There will be a cost for winterizing your vehicle, but it’s worth it. Look for a winter package that includes a winter inspection.