Back To Basics: 10 Easy Car Care Tips To Keep Your Ride In Shape This Winter

Above: Tips for getting your car or truck through the winter
Above: Tips for getting your car or truck through the winter

We see this all the time: a vehicle is parked on the side of the road or the highway, its driver stands to the side looking bewildered wondering, “What happened to my car?” During this time of year when the temperature drops to chill Arctic levels it’s better to abide by the Boy Scout motto “Be prepared.” Don’t be that guy waiting by the side of the road for a tow-truck to bail you out, instead make sure you regularly maintain your car and take extra care when Old Man Winter comes knocking on your door.

Get back to basics with our 10 winter car care tips, plus we spoke to Robin Buck, winter driving and car care expert for Ford Motor Company of Canada, who shares his 30+ years of automotive and driving instructor experience to help keep your ride in shipshape when it needs it the most

1. On The Regular
It goes without saying; having your car regularly maintained ensures it remains in tip-top condition. Take your ride to the dealership or your mechanic before winter for a routine check-up. Cold weather impacts the performance of your car (i.e.: sluggish handling, hard starts, etc). However, if you haven’t done this yet, there’s no time like the present because when it comes to a Canadian winter you never know when a surprise ice storm will hit.

2. Tire Time
Having winter tires on your car during the cold months of the year is well-known to provide better grip when driving in poor weather conditions. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation says winter tires can “shorten braking distance by as much as 25 percent” over an all-season tire. Plus, knowing the tire pressure for your vehicle (as recommended by the manufacturer) and having them properly pressurized maximizes its life, as well as fuel use and maintains the car’s stability ensuring overall proper traction.

3. Wipe On Wipe Off
Check for signs of wear and tear on your windshield wipers, such as cracking on the blades. Driving a car with damaged wipers is the worst; nothing will make you clutch the stirring wheel harder than driving with a dirty windshield as you pass a convey of tractor trailers at 100km/h plus.

4. Level Up
To compliment point #3, know where the windshield washer container is in your car and check its level often during winter; you’ll use windshield washer fluid more frequently during this time of year. And, this goes without saying, DO NOT add water to the container because it freezes and you cannot clean your windshield with a block of ice.

5. Gasolina
No, we’re not referring to the Daddy Yankee song but to fuel. Traffic jams, winter storms and following behind a conga line of snow ploughs are just a few of the reasons why your commute to and from work, or any other destination, can take twice as long than normal. “Be prepared when you set out on your drive and make sure you have plenty of fuel” said Buck, “You can keep the engine running if you get stuck and keep yourself warm.” Try to make sure your gas tank remains at least half full at all times.

6. Get Frosty
You don’t realize, until it’s too late, how important it is to have your front and rear defrosters in working order until they don’t melt the ice on your windshield and rear window after your car has been sitting in an outdoor parking lot for eight hours. Scraping the ice age thick layer off will be painstaking, to say the least, and malfunctioning defrosters can make seeing out of your car difficult and dangerous.

7. Engine Oil
Regular checks on your car’s engine oil level ensure your ride remains in good shape. Locate and measure the oil on the dipstick and top up when the level gets low. “Only use the recommended oil type and weight located on the engine oil cap,” Buck said. “The right oil maintains the engine’s working order and longevity.”

8. Light It Up
Light up your car and by that we mean for you to check all lights on it are functioning properly; indicators, hazards, break lights, head lights, high beams and low beams, etc.

9. Squeaky Clean
Winter can be hard on your ride, throw in road salt and extra dirt and you have one dirty vehicle. When possible, take it to the car wash to get rid of the salty grime; salt can damage the paint, corrode the body of your car, as well as other parts.

10. Check It Again
Be diligent in keeping your ride in shape and review these basic winter car care tips throughout the season

Kimberly Lyn

Kimberly Lyn

Kimberly Lyn is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her worked has appeared on StyleList Canada, 29 Secrets and GlobalNews.ca. She is also founder of the highly successful fashion blog The Souls of My Shoes, where she provides insights and thoughts on this world with a concentration on footwear. Find her at www.thesoulsofmyshoes.com and on Twitter @kimberly_lyn.

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