This article has been updated from a previous version.
Typically, for five months of the year (if not more), Canadians must navigate whatever foul weather Mother Nature throws their way. But, for all the practice and expertise drivers should have during these months, people always seem to be caught by surprise as fall turns into winter.
As we inch our way toward the official change in the season, it's time for a refresher on navigating the winter road conditions.
The snow, slush and cold will take a toll on your car. Here are a few tips to ensure your vehicle is ready for winter's wrath:
- Take your car in for a tune-up and oil change. Ask your mechanic to replace your wiper blades, top up your fluids, check the tire pressure, and test your battery.
- Pull your ice scraper and snow brush out of storage.
- Be prepared for an emergency. Inventory your winter emergency car kit to ensure you have everything you need if your car gets stuck in the snow or stranded at the side of the road.
- Carry an extra jug of windshield washer fluid in your trunk.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full. That way, you've got the fuel to get to where you need to go, no matter how long it takes you.
Finally, if you've decided to invest in a set of winter tires this year, let your auto insurance provider know. In Ontario, having winter tires will ensure you get a winter tire auto insurance discount, usually in the neighbourhood of about 5%.
Your vehicle is only as ready for winter as the driver behind the wheel. When the snow flies and the temperatures dip, remember to:
- Clean off the car. If snow has accumulated on your vehicle, make sure you clean it off before hitting the road — clear snow off your car's roof, hood, windshield, rear window, mirrors and lights.
- Take it slow. You should lower your speed when the roads are not at their best due to ice, snow, and other winter road hazards. Also, take it slow and easy when accelerating, braking or taking corners.
- Keep a safe distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you. In winter, especially in bad weather, double the two-second rule when driving. That means staying at least a four-second interval from when the car in front of you passes a fixed object until you reach the same thing.
- Know defensive driving. If you hit a slippery spot and find you're starting to skid, take your foot off the brake (or accelerator), look to where you want the vehicle to go, and then steer in that direction. Keep in mind; the car may skid a few times before you regain total control.
- Never overtake a moving snowplow. Be patient and keep a safe distance behind working snowplows and resist the urge to pass.
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With flurries in the forecast across most of the country, it's official: the season is changing. See if it might be time to change insurance providers, too. Compare auto insurance quotes to find low rates.
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