cars covered in snow

Driving in the City – How to Avoid Car Damage in Winter Months

During winter, Canadians must go the extra mile to drive safely on slippery, snowy streets. Though we are often reminded of the techniques to make winter driving as safe as possible, people often forget an essential part of driving in any season—taking care of your vehicle.

A well-prepared driver has all the necessary tools to maneuver in harsh conditions. Yet, as qualified as drivers can be, it is dangerous to forget to protect your vehicle. Even the most skilful driver can find themselves with a faulty ignition or battery, unable to get to their destination safely.

Cities are particularly tricky, as snow blockage and traffic puts pressure on car parts such as brakes, tires and the exhaust system. While taking off on congested areas or blocked streets, plan your route around:

The weather forecast. Plan for rain, snow, fog and poor visibility by knowing the weather ahead of time. With freezing temperatures, conditions worsen quickly, so check for announcements for severe winter weather alerts. Avoid leaving your home if necessary.

Road conditions. When stepping into the road look for melting snow and glossy spots on the pavement. These are common signs of black ice and slippery roads. Look and pay attention to your surroundings to help you prepare for the road ahead.

Routes with regular maintenance. When possible, take streets with priority snow clearance such as main roads. Driving on roads with less snow will make for an easier job brushing-off any frost left underneath your vehicle.

The right insurance plan for you. Compare insurance quotes and make sure you choose the right coverage for your driving needs and habits.

Aside from external factors, you want to make sure to take good care of your vehicle by protecting the body and engine with the following recommendations:

  • Get your battery tested. Schedule an appointment with your mechanic or repair shop to make sure your batteries are in top shape ahead of the temperature drop.
  • Preserve your vehicle’s exterior: wash and wax your car to reduce the build-up of mud, snow and ice. A thorough treatment will help you avoid rust and keep the car body without damage.
  • Try to keep a full tank. A full tank adds extra weight to your car, slowing it down and helping you avoid skidding. It can also help reduce moisture in the fuel system, preventing freezing pipes.
  • Aim your lights properly.
  • Not driving every day? Try to start your engine regularly to make sure fluids move properly and there is no damage to your vehicle’s system.
  • Remove all frost/ snow off your vehicle. You will need to maximize visibility during harsh weather, so take advantage of your car’s heating system to get started. Scrape windows, windshields and lights, as well as the exhaust, the top of your vehicle and mirrors, too.
  • Go easy on the brakes. Skids and slides are easily avoidable when you’re mindful of speed limits. Protect your brakes by applying light pressure and taking advantage of modern features such as skid control.
  • Check your car for clogged or broken exhaust systems. Poor exhaustion causes carbon monoxide to get into the cabin of your car. Check for potential leaks and stay aware of smoke when driving.
  • Leave more distance than normal when stopping or reducing speed. Even with winter tires, slippery road surfaces due to snow or ice can result in skidding or sliding when the brakes are applied. Leaving extra space ensures you are able to reach a full stop without hitting the vehicle in front of you.
  • Keep a ‘Winter Car Care” kit. Having a Survival kit on your vehicle is important for all seasons. In winter, you want to make sure you are equipped with a snow brush and scraper, traction mats, antifreeze fluid and a snow shovel. Winter tires and windshield wipers are crucial for managing changes in weather conditions.

If you are driving, be conscious of how your decisions on the road affect everyone around you, including the maintenance of your vehicle. Simple steps to improve your own driving experience, help you reduce car insurance costs and make it easier for everyone around you, too.