Winter isn’t for everyone. In my younger years, I skied, snowshoed, and (rather badly) skated, finally deciding that winter is best for doing doughnuts and powerslides in the warmth of a vehicle.
You’ve still got to get around in it though, and winter adds challenges to driving that we don’t always give enough thought to.
Any professional driver training is a good thing and, after participating in Porsche’s Winter Driving Experience at its Camp4 program in Finland a few years ago, I can vouch for the real-world application of the skills introduced.
Granted, it’s a lot of fun deliberately flinging a car around in the snow, and the cars used for training are Porsches, so it’s that much better.
But it’s not about being able to play rally driver on public roads. Have the rear end step out in the middle of a curve, or need to deal with a snowdrift-induced skid, and the training can give you the knowledge and confidence to regain control.
Camp4 is now available in Canada, taking place in February at the Mecaglisse training facility about 90 minutes north of Montreal. The price is $4,995, which includes three nights at the Estérel, Suites Spa & Lake. porsche.com/canada-pde.
Gifts under $100
When you see the underside of as many cars as I do, you realize just how much difference something as simple as floor mats make in reducing corrosion. Weather Tech makes quality, custom-fit rubber floor mats for many popular vehicles. The front set for my mom’s 2009 Sonata list at $76. But I’d really like to blow the $100 budget and spring for the nifty FloorLiners instead, at $217 for front and rear. weathertech.ca or at Action Car and Truck Accessories, actiontrucks.com.
Our family has reached an interesting point: our newest vehicle has no spare tire (just goop and a pump), and our other car, which we’ve just started using to tow a camper trailer, is 17 years old and has 250,000 km on it. Would CAA membership be a good investment? You betcha!
Basic membership is $67, and includes more benefits than just towing. Upgrading to Plus ($107) turns the 10-km tow maximum to 200 km, allowing you to reach your shop of choice. With the trailer, Plus RV coverage ($137) fits us better. caasco.com
Gifts under $50
Laugh if you want, but my family gives each other new wiper blades as stocking stuffers every year. I’m not partial to the multi-piece plastic type (freeze-prone), but any new blade is an improvement. I’ve had good results with Bosch’s single-piece Icon blades, available at many auto parts retailers, including NAPA (napacanada.com). Prices vary by size and style, but basic blades start at about $8.
Today’s license plates are poorly made; they fade, peel, and chip easily, while the screws that hold them on often corrode, leaving unseemly rust stains. Plate covers can prevent the former, while stainless steel fasteners eliminate the latter issue. Both are available at Canadian Tire (canadiantire.ca), where two covers and two sets of fasteners will cost you less than $50.
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