October is Car Safety Month in Canada, and though November beckons, its purpose is to remind Canadians to prepare their vehicles for the long, cold winter months ahead.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to ensure your car, truck, or SUV is in good condition and revved up to tackle the frigid temperatures and icy roads. Improving the safety and dependability of your vehicle will help keep you and your family safe, and possibly lessen the chance of getting into a collision, which in turn, may affect your car insurance.
Here are a few ways to winterize your vehicle:
- Get your vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic. Take your vehicle in for a winter tune-up and ask your mechanic to look it over to make sure that all systems are functioning and in good condition. Summer driving can lead to wear and tear on your car, so address small problems that may exist by having them fixed now to help avoid the possibility of a breakdown.
- Pack an emergency kit. Every vehicle should have a winter emergency kit in the trunk. Your kit should include first-aid supplies, a warm blanket, a few non-perishable food items, as well as a flashlight and batteries, a folding shovel, and sand or cat litter for traction.
- Keep a quality ice scraper and brush in the trunk. It’s wise to clear snow and ice off your vehicle before you drive so you can see where you’re going. Although it isn’t illegal to drive with snow on your car, in Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act, section 74(1) states, “no person shall drive a motor vehicle … unless the windshield and windows on either side of the compartment containing the steering wheel are in such a condition as to afford the driver a clear view to the front and side of the motor vehicle; and unless the rear window is in such a condition as to afford the driver a clear view to the rear of the motor vehicle.” In other words, you must have an unobstructed view all around your car.
- Change your wiper blades. As a general rule, you should replace worn wiper blades every six months. It’s also smart to fill your windshield washer reservoir with fluid designed for freezing temperatures.
- Ensure that your windshield is free of chips and cracks. Temperature changes can cause a small chip or crack in your windshield to become a large one as the glass expands and contracts. If you've got a chip in your windshield, get it fixed.
- Check your tire pressure regularly. When seasons change, we can expect a considerable swing in the temperature, which can have a direct impact on your tire pressure levels. Check your tire pressure at least once a month to ensure they're properly inflated.
- Get winter tires. The recommended time to install winter tires on your vehicle is when the temperature falls below 7 C. Some insurers require you to have them installed from November to April. According to the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada, winter tires provide your car with more traction that handle freezing temperatures better than all-season or summer tires. Moreover, many insurers will give you a small discount for having winter tires on your vehicle during the cold months.
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