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Five Things you need to do to prepare your car for winter

Published October 29, 2013
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By Jess Davidson for Wheels.ca

Winter doesn’t officially blow in until December 21, but we Canadians don’t need a calendar to tell us when it’s time to start preparing for it. The time to get your car ready for the snow, sleet, and ice that are just around the corner is now. We’ll even help you out with this list of tips from the experts:

1. From hoses to tires, give your car a thorough once-over to ensure it’s winter-ready.

Inspect hoses and belts for cracks and leaks, replace any worn or torn wiper blades, have your battery tested by a trained technician, check all fluids to be sure they are at or above the minimum safely levels, and check your tire pressure on all tires, including the spare.

“As the average temperature drops, so too will your tire pressure,” says Silvana Aceto, of CAA, South Central Ontario.

Not sure what your tire pressure should be? Aceto recommends checking your owner’s manual or on the inside of the driver’s side door to confirm the correct level.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada also recommends checking that your vehicle lights are all in working order.The end of Daylight Savings Time results in earlier nightfall and more nighttime driving, so be sure you’re not in the dark about the condition of your lights.

Related: Planning to drive without winter tires? Watch this

2. Install four matching winter tires when the temperature reaches 7 C or below. Depending on the speed and the weather, the braking distance of winter tires can be up to 25 per cent shorter or two vehicle lengths compared to all-season tires, says Aceto. (Oh, and that “two snow tires on the front, two regular tires on the back” thing — you don’t do that, do you?)

3. Pack an emergency kit that you can keep in your car all winter long. Some items Aceto recommends including are an ice scraper, snow brush, snow shovel, washer fluid, booster cables, flashlight and extra batteries, blankets, warm clothing, water, non-perishable snacks, first aid kit and smart phone with car charger.

4. Keep the gas tank at least half full all winter. This decreases the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and freezing.

5. Check road and weather updates before heading out. You can check conditions online, or by phone by calling 511, the Traveller’s Road Information hotline.

Sources: Ministry of Transportation Ontario, Insurance Bureau of Canada, CAA

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