Winter will be upon us before we know it (or, depending on when you’re read this, it may already be upon you). Snow, icy roads, colder days, and some more-than-interesting driving conditions will soon make us appreciate the other season in Alberta.
No, not construction–summer.
So I thought I’d share some ways to winterize your vehicle, based on my experience driving more than 2,000,000 KMs and owning more than 25 vehicles. (No, those weren’t typos.)
These are easy things to do, and best of all … they’re not expensive!
Replace Your Wipers
If your windshield wiper blades are more than six months old, they’re probably due for a change. Drastic seasonal changes in Alberta wreak havoc on our wipers, so if yours have already been through a rough winter season, it’s best to swap them out. A clear windshield offers a much safer view of the road.
Replace Your Windshield Washer Fluid
Replace your summer windshield washer fluid with at least -40 winter fluid. If you can find it, get the stuff that helps to de-ice the windshield.
Need help emptying your reservoir? It’s easy! Just turn on the sprayer and hold until it’s not spraying anymore. Once empty, just fill it with the new -40 stuff.
Check your Tires
Perhaps the most important way to winterize your vehicle. If they are at or near the wear bar, replace them. A replacement set of tires is the most expensive item on this list, but even the least expensive tire you can find will be safer than your current worn out skins.
If you need help mounting and balancing your new tires, feel free to see us at Kentwood Ford.
Cost-Saving Tip: Write down your tire size (you’ll see a number organized something like this on the side of your tire: 205/65/16), then search Kijiji for used tires your size. If you can find one with 50% or 60% tread left, that’s at least better than a worn out set. Not a long-term fix, but it’ll do in a pinch.
Rotate Your Tires
If your tires are still in good shape, have them rotated. This should cost you no more than $75. Make sure the ones with the best tread are placed on the front (because it’s these that see the most action). Also, make sure you check the pressure and adjust to meet the specs on the tire label on your car’s door frame or pillar.
Keep in mind cold conditions can cause tire pressure to drop, so keep an eye on yours and ideally do a quick walk around every day or two to check them out.
Check Your External Lights (Including Break Lights)
These are on your vehicle for a reason. Having a functioning set of headlights (not just one) is an essential safety requirement. If you can’t see the road and its immediate surroundings at night, that’s just not safe.
The same lesson applies to brake lights. If the driver behind you can’t see your brake lights, then the odds of a serious collision increase dramatically.
Note: Just because your vehicle’s daytime running lights are working, it does not mean the actual headlights and rear tail lights are working. If your vehicle does not have fully automatic lighting your tail lights ARE NOT WORKING. Check your vehicle and make sure you turn on all the lights at night. It’s for your benefit and safety after all!
Check Your Battery
Check your battery to ensure that it is in good working order. Car batteries are typically of the lead/acid variety and should last anywhere from 3-5 years depending on the climate conditions and quality of the battery. Extreme heat and cold are very hard on them (*cough*Alberta*cough) and will reduce their lifespan.
If you would rather not tinker with the battery yourself, simply book a service appointment with us at Kentwood. We’ll test it for you and tell you if your battery is good or bad and if it should be replaced.
A good quality car battery will start at around $120 and can run up to around $300 for very high quality Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries. You can replace it yourself or have the shop do it.
Check Your Antifreeze/Coolant
Modern vehicles require specialized coolant that’s compatible with aluminum engine parts. Fortunately, virtually all the coolant on the market today works just fine, but check the label and make sure it is suitable for your vehicle. Keep in mind that most diesel engines use a different type of coolant than gas engines. Read the label carefully!
The normal freezing point for your engine coolant is -40 degrees.
Fun Fact! Celsius and Farenheit are actually the same temperate at -40, so that makes things nice and simple.