In Canada, winter driving can be quite daunting. The weather and the roads can be unpredictable at times, leaving you unaware of what to expect when you hit the road. However, we cannot let the wild Canadian winters stop us from having an adventure-filled season. To help you navigate the traitorous winter conditions, we gathered all of our top safety tips for winter driving, along with a checklist of materials that you should have on hand during the snowy season.
Tire Air Pressure
As the colder season settles in and the temperature begins to drop, so does the pressure in your tires. To make this more clear, a tire that has a pressure of 29 psi at 16ºC, that pressure will drop to 26 psi when the temperature reaches 0ºC. When a tire, or multiple tires on a vehicle contain too much pressure, there is less contact with the road. This means that you have less traction with the ground, in turn less control over the vehicle. If the tire pressure is too low, there can be heat build up inside the tire, causing damage to it and your vehicle. So, make sure to check your tire pressure at least once a month to keep you and your family safe.
How to check tire pressure
If you're not sure how to check the air pressure in your tires, you can rest assured as it's quite simple. Start by removing the valve cap from one of your tires. Then place the pressure gauge on the valve stem and press down until the hiss sound stops and your gauge shows a reading. With a regular gauge, the air pressure will push a small bar out from the bottom of the gauge, and measurements are shown on the bar. If you're using a digital gauge, the tire pressure will be indicated on the screen. And that's it! The next step is to adjust the air pressure if need be.
How to adjust tire pressure
When it comes to adjusting your tire pressure in cold temperatures, simply set the pressure to the vehicle's recommended tire pressure. If the temperature is warm, make sure that you only adjust the pressure after your car has been stationary for 3 hours or more, or driven less than 1 kilometre. You can adjust your tire pressure at a gas station or at your local tire shop.
Wondering how to make your tires last longer? Not sure where to store your summer or winter tires? One of the most important aspects of increasing tire longevity is proper tire storage. Keeping your tires stored in a cool, dry place allows them to stay in the right shape, maintaing their performance and appearance. Before storing them away until next season, make sure to inspect them for damage or uneven wear.
How to store your tires
- First and foremost, make sure that the area you're storing your tires in is clean and free from grease, gasoline, or any other substance that could potentially deteriorate the rubber.
- Indoors is the safest place to store your tires. Keep them in a clean, cool and dark location away from direct sunlight and sources of heat, like hot pipes and electric generators.
- If you must store your tires outdoors, the tires should be raised off the ground. This can be done using a tire storage rack. Use waterproof covering with holes so that the tires can still breathe, preventing moisture build-up.
- If tires are being left on a vehicle that will not be used for long periods of time, raising the vehicle removes load from the tires, maintaining their shape and placard inflation pressure.
- For tires with whitewall or raised white lettering, we suggest storing them with these walls facing each other to avoid black rubber stains on the white.
Snow chains are great for packed snow that is normally harder to drive in. They provide better traction between the car and the road, increasing your control, which makes driving in winter conditions not only easier, but safer. Trusted retailers can help you choose the most suitable tire snow chains for your vehicle and tire size. There should be a minimum of 12 chains crossing the tire, and it is important to learn how to install the chains before your trip. Note that some regions that get lots of heavy snow require that you use snow chains for winter driving safety.
Although it may seem obvious, taking care of your windshield is extremely important for safe winter driving. If you notice a small crack in your windshield, having it repaired sooner rather than later is always the best option, no matter the season. However, in the winter, it is significantly dangerous to have a cracked windshield. The cold temperatures put stress on any damage, such as a chip or crack, and a crack is most likely to spread horizontally.
As for your windshield washer fluid, make sure that the tank is in good condition, and check it regularly to make sure it's full. This way, you always have a clear view of the road ahead of you. If you're running out of windshield washer fluid, do not add water to it. Water freezes in cold temperatures. Additionally, water doesn't have the cleaning power that destroys dirt and grime and could leave more streaks behind, impeding your visibility.
Winter safety materials checklist
The winter months are full of joy and adventure, but unfortunately, emergencies do happen. You may find yourself stuck in the snow and having to wait for help, so it is always best to prepare for the worst. To do so, make sure that your vehicle is equipped with the following items:
- Four winter tires
- A shovel
- A tire gauge
- A car jack
- Fully inflated spare tire
- Gravel, salt, or a small piece of carpet
- Non-perishable food and water
- Jumper cables
- Emergency flares
- Warm clothes or blankets
- First-aid kit
- Windshield washer fluid
- Headlamp or flashlight
Before hitting the road
1. Plan your route and check road conditions
Check reports on road conditions to help you choose the best, most safe route and avoid dangerous situations. If conditions are particularly bad, you may want to stay off the roads or change your itinerary.
2. Emergency phone numbers
Identify the person(s) to call in case of emergency (ICE) by putting those three letters before their name(s) in your list of cell phone contacts.
3. Check your fluids
Make sure you always have at least half a tank of gas to avoid a frozen fuel line. Also, keep extra windshield washer fluid to ensure proper visibility.
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How to Prepare Your Car for the Canadian Winter
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