November 16, 2012
By Autos.ca staff
Winter is coming.
While that line is used to dramatic effect in the hit TV and literary series, Game of Thrones, it is also a singularly appropriate maxim for automotive vehicle maintenance. Every year, we approach the fall with good intentions of preparing the car for our volatile Canadian winters. And most years, we are lucky if we get through half of them.
Warm fall days can make procrastinators out of the best of us, but fall is the time to get your vehicle ready. Many of the checks can be made at home or are done at low cost by most repair shops. Here are a few items that should be checked every year.
Waiting till the snow hits the ground can mean long waits for service at repair shops and tire dealers. Fall is usually a quiet time for many repair shops so convenient times can be arranged to have your vehicle serviced.
It’s never fun if your vehicle lets you down, but it can be downright miserable or even dangerous if it happens on a cold winter day. Here is a quick checklist that will help you make sure you are ready when winter comes.
First of all, invest in a good set of winter tires. They’ll improve traction, meaning you’ll be able to brake turn, and drive more effectively in cold weather. If you choose winter tires, put them on all four wheels.
Many people opt for “all-season” tires. Depending on your local climate, they can be an adequate compromise for average year-round weather conditions but won’t perform as well as genuine winter tires in ice, snow, or freezing temperatures.
Whatever you choose, buy them before winter arrives, and don’t rush to remove them in early Spring if more bad weather is a possibility.
If you already have winter tires, check the tread depth—if they are severely worn, you’ll have trouble braking, accelerating, and handling, especially on slippery roads.
Since traction is compromised when driving on ice or snow, the correct tire pressure is critical. Properly inflated tires ensure good contact with the road and protect the wheels from pothole damage. Your owner’s manual should list the recommended pressures. Remember that tire pressures drop in cold weather and will require topping up.
Additionally, keeping your tires properly inflated will help maximize your fuel dollars.