Winter is coming and you don’t need to be Ned Stark to know it. In Edmonton, we usually get our first legitimate, oh-@#$%-I-don’t-have-my-winter-tires-on dump of snow on November 1st, and then it’s all downhill from there.
With winter on its way for the next 6-7 months, it’s time to buckle up, layer up, and buy yourself a pumpkin spiced something. Or eggnog, if you’re like me and start drinking it 6 weeks before Christmas.
Fun fact, Canadians drink more than 5 million litres of eggnog every year. So, before you get all hopped up on the ‘nog, you should take the time to winterize your vehicle.
Here are six things you need to do to get your car ready for winter.
As a general rule, it’s always better to tackle your winter tires before the the roads start to become dangerous. That way you don’t run the risk of being woefully unprepared when the craziness starts happening. So you better get on it. Like, now.
Why change your tires at all? Summer tires generally start being less effective around 7-10 degrees Celsius. Plus, winter tires are made from a soft rubber compound that allows them to maintain their flexibility in winter and prevents them from sliding all over the road.
We’re looking at you, antifreeze.
Antifreeze is added to water in your vehicle to lower the temperature at which your coolant freezes. On most vehicles, a typical mixture is 50% water and 50% antifreeze. But be sure to use the correct type for your vehicle. If you’re not sure, any Go Auto dealership can help tackle your fluids for you. If you do it yourself remember: never remove the radiator cap from a hot engine!
Winterizing your car means making sure your coolant is full. But it also means making sure your windshield fluid is full. Never, never, never use straight water! In Alberta, the recommended strength of your solution is -35 degrees.
We’re going to assume that finding your battery is dead at 6:30 AM–in below-freezing temperatures–is not your idea of a good time. Save yourself the headache and get your battery tested now, before it’s too late.
Here are some key things to note when testing your battery:
- Batteries typically last anywhere from 3-4 years. If your battery’s getting close to the 4-year mark, it’s probably time for a new one.
- If your car takes a few extra seconds to turn over, it might be a sign it’s getting old.
- Cold temperatures slow chemical reactions down, putting extra strain on your battery. If your battery is on its last legs, this can push it over the edge.
- Check to see if the connections on the battery are corroded and your water level is balanced. If either one of these seems off, bring it in to get checked.
Unfortunately, some people don’t even know what this is. If you’re one of them, you’re going to want to keep reading.
Every vehicle in Alberta should have a winter survival kit in the back, one that was prepared by you. The items in your winter kit will help in case of an emergency, like having to change a tire on the side of the road. They will also help you stay nice and warm in case you need to wait in the cold for help.
Some great items to include in your kit:
- Windshield wiper fluid
- Ice scraper
- Booster cables
- Kitty litter (this one’s a cool life hack; you can pour it in front of your tires to improve traction in a pinch)
- Phone charger
- Non-perishable food items, like granola bars
- Knife, can opener, spoon
- First aid kit
- Duct Tape
- Water bottles
- Blanket, gloves, toque, sweater and scarves
- Road flairs and a reflective vest (this one is a little extreme, but if you typically drive in isolated areas, especially at night, they’re not a bad idea)
A good set of wiper blades is essential in Alberta, where even light snowfalls (by our standards, at least) can lead to obstructed driving.
So if your wipers are old, worn-down or hardened, have them replaced. Wipers only start around $20, so they’re a lost cost, high payoff item.
This one is specific to rear-wheel-drive (RWD) vehicles. Thanks to the engine, most of your vehicle’s weight is in the front. Therefore, the heavy front end and light back end can cause your vehicle to slide all over the road.
Adding sand bags to your trunk evens out the weight, making your car less prone to slides!
Need Some Help?
Not everyone is a gear head. Furthermore, not everyone has the time to tackle everything on a list like this. So if you’re in need of some help, Go Auto has 20 dealerships in Edmonton that can help you winterize your vehicle without breaking the bank.
If you buy a new set of winter tires from Go Auto this winter, you’ll enjoy a bunch of added benefits thanks to the Go Auto Tire Advantage:
- 10% off!
- FREE 2-year Road Hazard Warranty
- NO CHARGE lifetime flat repair
- FREE lifetime tire rotation
- 5% of purchase value back on a FREE Go Card to use for future savings