October is national Car Safety month, and a time when the automotive industry works together to help Canadian car owners prepare for winter driving. Preparing ahead of time before the temperature drops can ensure small problems are fixed and wear and tear from long summer drives are resolved. By teaching Canadians about pre-winter inspection and maintenance needs, the industry can help to keep them safer on the road, avoid collisions, and prevent folks from being stranded in harsh winter conditions.
Climate changes do not just affect the owner/operators; they also affect your vehicle. For the same reasons we would not head out in bone-chilling temperatures in our sandals, we cannot expect our vehicle to function properly without some attention to its winter needs as well. Here are some tips from the car care professionals:
- The oil in your engine changes depending on how hot or cold the engine is running. Because the outside temperatures will influence the internal temperature of your engine, you need to make sure you are using the proper oil for the conditions. During the winter months you will want to switch over to thinner oil.
- Your car’s coolant system is not intended only to keep your engine from overheating. It is also responsible for protecting the engine against corrosion. Before the weather gets too cold, make sure you are using coolant with ethylene glycol to help protect your engine.
- Your engine might not be thrilled about turning over in the winter and your battery capacity is reduced by the cold weather as well. A thorough inspection of your battery, cables, terminals, and fluid will help you make sure your car is ready for the winter. If your battery is reaching end-of-life, think about replacing it before you are stranded.
- When it comes to really dealing with winter weather, your tires are out there mixing with the snow, sleet, and ice. Driving in snow can be very difficult and sometimes dangerous so if you must drive be sure you have effective contact with the road. All-season tires might be a reasonable choice for the fair weather driver, but personally I am a huge fan of snow tires all around.
- An easily overlooked part of your winterizing program is your windshield, windshield wipers and washer fluid. For best results in clearing off cold, heavy grime, select a washer fluid with an antifreeze solution and change your wipers if they are worn or starting to tear.
- Door locks can freeze in the cold weather and break your key (assuming you do not have a remote control) if you try to force them open. Purchase a few bottles of lock de-icer to keep in accessible places or carry with you. While the glove box seems convenient, it is not helpful if you cannot unlock the door to the car to access the glove box.
When you take the time to winterize your car, you become more comfortable driving in cold, snowy climates. A short commute quickly becomes difficult when your vehicle is not equipped to handle snow and ice. By planning ahead, you can make winterizing your vehicle an annual ritual in the name of safety and vehicle reliability. For seniors in particular, this small investment of time and money can be a lifesaver considering our recent winters.
Information in this column is compiled by Shell-Lee Wert- Executive Director of Community Care for South Hastings Inc., 470 Dundas Street East, Unit 63, Belleville, K8N 1G1. Please visit our website at www.ccsh.ca, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 613-969-0130 or 613-396-6591 for information and assistance. Community Care is a proud United Way member agency. Funding in part from the South East Local Health Integration Network.