Winter safety driving tips: get winterized!

  • Get the right kind of oil change and top up all fluids: Ensure your antifreeze is the right mixture.
  • Get a good car wash: Clear off all the summer dust and built-up bugs with a good car wash. Use a wax that will help coat and protect the exterior from road salt and one that will make it easier to brush away snow and ice. Touch up any scratches or chips as these could get worse over the winter months.
  • Make sure you can see: Get new wiper blades. Replace any burnt out lights - Winter brings shorter days which means you’ll be depending more on your lights to help you see in the morning and at night. Check your headlights, taillights, backup lights, signal lights and your hazard lights to confirm that they are all in working order.
  • Give your battery some TLC: Get a test, clean the posts, check the connections.
  • Think about switching to winter tires
  • Check your belts and hoses
  • Check your tire pressure: Proper inflations increases your traction.
  • Avoid a deep freeze: Prevent frozen locks and doors by adding a little lubricant ahead of time. You can spray a graphite-based lock lubricant into keyholes, using short blasts. You don’t want to do this more than once a year as you could risk jamming the lock if you’ve got too much lubricant in there. You can apply a silicone-based rubber lubricant on weather stripping that’s located on car doors to prevent the seals from sticking together. This also works on the trunk and hood seals.

Safe winter driving.

Winter driving is the greatest seasonal challenge you’ll have to deal with on our city roads and rural highways. Get through the winter safe and sound with the help of these tips:

  • Slow down! Lower speeds increase traction in slippery conditions and improve braking.
  • Be aware that skids happen if you brake too hard and one or more wheels lock, or if you press too hard on the accelerator and spin the drive wheels.
  • In a skid, always remember: continue to LOOK in the direction you want to go, and STEER in that direction.
  • Remove snow from your windshield, headlights and tail lights, so you can see and be seen.
  • Keep your gas tank half–full or more to avoid fuel line freezing.
  • Know what to do if you get stranded. Stay in your car, put on all of your flashers, light a flare so people can see you.

Plug it in!

Keeping the engine block warm ensures oil, coolant and other liquids stay fluid, enabling the engine to start easily.

  • Signs of a weak battery are slow engine cranking, dim headlights and illumination of the battery/charging system warning light on the dashboard.
  • Instructions for boosting a failed battery can be found in vehicle owner’s manuals, however, boosting can be dangerous and motorists who are uncertain about battery maintenance and safety should seek professional assistance from a certified technician or a qualified emergency road service provider.
  • The CAA Battery Assist Service, started in 1999, tests, diagnoses and replaces batteries on the spot for Members.
  • CAA’s Battery Assist service is unique in Manitoba and operates in Winnipeg and Brandon.
  • CAA Manitoba responds to nearly 25,000 battery-related breakdowns annually.
  • Make sure your block heater is plugged in.
  • Keeping the engine block warm ensures oil, coolant and other liquids stay fluid, enabling the engine to start easily.
  • Check to see that your extension cord is not frayed, cut or kinked.
  • Using a device such as Plug Alive, to check if the block heater and outlet are working is recommended.
  • Plug your vehicle in at least three hours before driving it.
  • If possible, keep your vehicle plugged in even when waiting for a boost – it makes it that much easier to get you going.
  • An automotive battery loses 40 per cent of its charge at -18C, while a starter may need twice as much electrical power to start a cold engine.
  • On average dead batteries account for 30 per cent of CAA’s winter Emergency Road Service calls.

Getting a grip: winter tires.

Some drivers still question the need for winter tires, but the experts agree: winter tires offer the best and safest performance in a Canadian winter, over all–season tires.

  • Look for the snowflake-on-the-mountain symbol when shopping for winter tires. Tires carrying this mark are specifically designed to meet snow traction requirements.
  • Buy four winter tires; this ensures the best stability and control in snow and ice conditions.
  • In colder weather, the air inside a tire contracts and pressure drops. Tires lose one to two pounds of pressure for every five-degree drop in temperature, making it important to check your vehicle’s tire pressure at least once a month and even more often in cold temperatures.
  • Wide, high-performance tires are not suitable for winter, unless specifically designed for snow and ice.
  • The general rule is to install winter tires after the first snowfall and remove them in the spring.
  • Winters tires are made of special rubber compounds that improve stopping time not only ice and snow but also cold, dry, wet or slushy driving conditions.
  • The treads on winter tires improve traction by allowing the tire to rid itself of snow as it rolls, giving it a clear bite on the road.
  • All-season tires lose grip when the temperature drops below 7 C. Winter tires have a deeper tread pattern and are more flexible, shaving almost 40 per cent off the stopping distance compared to all-seasons.

Winter tire low-interest financing.

Manitoba Public Insurance now offers low-interest financing to eligible Manitobans who decide to purchase winter tires up to $2,000.00 per vehicle. The financing can be put towards the purchase of qualifying winter tires and any associated costs from participating retailers.