Getting ready involves more than just winter tires.
Vehicle maintenance is important as well.
Simple items such as wipers also need to be checked.
Every year, at the first sight of snow, we all get the impression that collectively, we’ve forgotten how to drive. Inevitably, drivers cause greater traffic jams and although conditions become slightly more challenging, there’s little to explain why everything gets so bad. Perhaps it’s the result of motorists being ill-prepared for winter driving.
Depending on where you live, the snow’s already on the ground or falling to it as you read these lines. As you prepare your Holiday plans and related road trips, it’s a good idea to take a few minutes to make sure you and your family are ready. And by ready, we are referring to being safe.
Michelin has prepared a number of tips before you head out, and they are worth a read:
Installing Winter Tires
Outside of the Province of Quebec, less than half of Canadians have their winter tires installed by late November. In most regions, this is past the first freeze and snowfall for several regions. Postponing or even skipping installing winter tires could leave you and your car unprepared, even stranded. You shouldn’t wait until temperatures hit -20°C before installing them though, you should have them on your vehicle when temperatures consistently approach the freezing point.
Choosing winter tires over all-seasons is also a great idea. According to Michelin’s poll, 66% of Canadians reported all tires with the mountain snowflake symbol are winter tires when that is not necessarily the case. While the 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol (3PMSF) means that tires are snow-rated, this symbol only guarantees some performance minimums in winter conditions.
The poll also reveals that 92% of Canadians believe winter tires perform equally well year over year when that’s not actually the case. Some tires wear faster than others and performance generally decreases as they wear.
Here are some simple, yet essential, safety steps that should be done before heading out on a road trip:
Schedule/perform a check-up: Make sure your alignment, battery, brakes, lights and belts, and hoses are in top condition.
Check your air pressure: Do it regularly – at least once a month – as tires lose pressure as the temperature drops.
Inspect your windshield: A small crack on the windshield may, in extreme cold, become a large crack and require immediate repair. Be proactive and repair it before winter sets in.
Check your fluids: Make sure you always have at least half a tank of gas to avoid a frozen fuel line. Coolant level and condition should be optimal as well.
Wiper blades: Use blades made for winter conditions. They are heavier and push snow and ice more easily.
In case of emergencies, you may get stuck or need to spend time in your car waiting for help. Here are some items you should always have in the vehicle:
Emergency kit (including a first-aid kit, flashlight, warm clothes, and blanket)
A tire gauge, jack, and fully inflated spare
Shovel, gravel, salt, or a small piece of carpet to aid with traction
Non-perishable food and water
Extra windshield washer fluid
As 61% of Canadians report that they don’t trust other drivers, and a further 37% say they get nervous when driving on ice and snow, making sure your vehicle is in top shape will ease your mind and is an easy way to help keep everyone, including your family, safe on the roads.