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Preparing your car for winter driving (part 1).

Jordan September 26, 2013
a lot of cars on a busy highway during winter.
Winter hasn’t always been the kindest to Canadians, so it`s important to think ahead and prepare for its arrival before driving conditions become hazardous. Part one of this article will go through some of the most important-yet-simple things you can do before setting out for a drive in the cold and snow.

Winter is considered one of Canada’s harshest seasons, and it can certainly take its wear and tear on our vehicles. It’s important to think ahead and prepare for winter’s arrival before driving conditions become hazardous. Part One of this article will go through some of the most important-yet-simple things you can do before setting out for a drive in the cold and snow.

Car exterior.


Have someone help you check that your taillights, brake lights, headlights, turn signals and emergency flashers are working properly. With decreased visibility, your vehicle lights and turn signals are going to be more important than ever.

Snow removal.

Using your snowbrush and/or ice scraper on your windshield and mirrors is second nature to most Canadians, but don’t forget to brush off your front and back lights, front air intake grill and roof. It’s important to ensure visibility is never obstructed and that your car can properly take in air. Removing snow from the roof ensures that it won’t fly off while driving and obstruct the view of the driver behind you.

A hand scraping ice off a windshield with a yellow ice scraper.

Your windshield.

Again, ensuring you have good visibility is integral to staying safe while driving through a heavy snowfall. Ensure your heater, front and rear defrosters are working properly.


Top up your windshield washer fluid and use one that includes antifreeze. Running out at an inopportune time could be dangerous, so always keep a spare container in your trunk. Antifreeze ensures that ice won’t build up on your windshield and make it hard for you to see.


Always remember to turn off your wipers before shutting off your vehicle. Many of us don`t see the harm in simply turning off our vehicle while the wipers are on, but it`s very easy for them to get frozen in place. Once that happens, they`ll attempt to move back into place when you start your car next, and this struggle can cause damage to the motor.

Check the condition of your windshield wipers: Wipers should be replaced every six months or when you start to notice decreased effectiveness. Heavy-duty winter blades should be used during snowy seasons, but make sure to replace them when spring arrives to reduce wear on your wiper motor.

Periodic cleaning with a clean cloth dampened with windshield washer fluid can often renew the wiping power of dirty blades and extend their life.

Snow partially covering a windshield.

Your fuel tank.

Always ensure your gas tank is above half-full and add a can of fuel injection gasoline antifreeze every 3-4 fill-ups. Condensation can build up in a near-empty gas tank in extremely cold temperatures, and this can cause fuel line freeze-up and no-start conditions.

Never going below half-full will ensure you have plenty of gas to run your car and heater in the case of an emergency. But if this happens, always remember to crack the window a little to keep fresh air coming in.

A closeup of a green gas pump with cars covered with snow in the background.

Overall, with winter right around the corner, it’s best to act quickly. Heavy snowfall and slick, icy roads reduce visibility, traction and control, so pick up a new set of wipers, some windshield washer fluid with antifreeze and a container of fuel injection gasoline antifreeze to keep yourself as safe as possible on the wintery roads. Next week, we’ll go over some additional winter auto maintenance tips that pertain to your oil, tires, brakes and battery.

As always, if you lose control of your vehicle or require roadside assistance, call CAA.

Click here for part two of this series!

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The information above is intended to provide general information only. Nothing is intended to provide legal or professional advice or to be relied on in any dispute, claim, action, demand or proceeding. CAA South Central Ontario does not accept liability for any damage or injury resulting from reliance on this information.