November’s blustery winds should be the trigger that gets people into winter driving mode, but inevitably, many of us continue blindly into our coldest season unprepared. It happens every year — once the first snowfall hits, only then will the local service shops be filled to capacity with those scrambling to get pre-winter work done, or booking the body-shop after an unintended collision.

Now is the perfect time to get the jump on winter preparation, so Metro gathered some tips on how you can keep safe on the road, and how to stay alive if you do end up going off.

To have visibility during all winter weather conditions, it is important to have the right necessities available.

Keep a snow brush and ice scraper in your vehicle at all times during the winter months. If your car is often parked outdoors, invest in a winter windshield cover to keep snow, frost and ice off of your windshield.

Also, top-up on windshield fluid for extreme temperatures and always keep an extra jug in the trunk.

Prior to the start of any new season, make an appointment to have your vehicle fully serviced, especially prior to winter, when weather elements can affect many performance elements of the vehicle. Have your battery and charging system checked to ensure it will have enough power to start the car on cold mornings. Check wiper blades for signs of wear and cracking and replace if necessary. Better yet, change to heavy-duty winter blades like Teflon wiper blades. Also, extreme cold is hard on the engine oil. An oil change and new filter are good ideas for the change in season.

Pack a Vehicle Emergency Kit
Keep the following items on-hand in your car, in the event you are ever stuck or stranded:
• Cellphone with hands-free option
• Emergency car starter
• Gloves and hat
• Shovel
• Flashlight
• Jumper cables


• Make sure you sweep and scrape all the ice and snow off your car before you drive off. It’s extremely dangerous not only to you, but also to the others who follow in your wake.

• While having a cellphone with you for emergencies is great, don’t distract yourself by using it when driving. In four provinces and counting, this is illegal anyway, but it’s poor judgement in all of them. Use your vehicle’s built-in Bluetooth if it is so equipped, or invest is a generic hands-free kit.

Warming up

• Canadian winters can be bitterly cold, so warming up your car is essential. Depending on where you live, 60 seconds might be all the time you need. According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), warming up your car for more than 60 seconds can be an expensive, inefficient and a harmful waste of fuel.

In cold weather, use a block heater on a timer for two hours and then start driving easy and let the car warm up on the road. Letting your car idle in the driveway for more than 60 seconds, either by a remote starter or starting it yourself, wastes fuel and does not adequately warm up all your vehicle components such as the transmission, tires or the catalytic converter.

Driving your car “smooth and easy” is the best way to warm up your vehicle’s components.

If drivers avoided idling by just three minutes a day over the year, Canadians would collectively save 630 million litres of fuel, and $630 million in fuel costs (assuming a fuel cost of $1.00/L).

• NRCan has more winter driving tips at

– News Canada

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