Winter is coming. That one is for all of our Game of Thrones fans out there. You know who you are. But, seriously, winter really is coming, and it’s going to be here sooner than you think. And as you surely know, the winters up here in Canada are no joke. Between the freezing cold temperatures and winter storms, it can get pretty hectic and uncomfortable!
And to make matters even worse, with these storms and temperatures combined with the road treatment necessary for driving, winter is also by far the toughest time of the year for your car. Cars, like many of us, prefer warm temperatures, dry skies, and a clean road to ride along.
To get the most out of your car and keep it in the best shape possible, there are some things that you can do to get it ready for the colder months. Because remember, winter is coming, but you can prepare your car for it so that you’re ready when it gets here.
Get a Seasonal Service
The single easiest way to get your car ready for winter is to head to your favourite automotive shop and just ask them to check your car and to prep it for winter. This won’t include anything major like winter tires (unless you add those on!), but they’ll check over the main systems of the car and do what they can to get it ready for the impending cold temperatures.
During a seasonal service, they’ll typically do things such as:
- Checking the fluids and topping them off
- Inspecting the windshield wipers
- Ensuring the heater and defroster are working
- Adding de-icing agent to the washer fluid
- Checking the battery
- Testing the alternator
- Going over the hoses to make sure the rubber isn’t nearing failure
- Checking and setting tire pressures
- And more
As you can see, a seasonal winter service can head off a lot of issues before winter even arrives. This way, you’re ready for whatever comes your way, and you don’t have to worry about something small turning into a big issue and derailing your winter plans.
Top Up Engine Coolant with Antifreeze
That might seem like a bit of an oxymoron at first glance. After all, in the winter, wouldn’t the heating system be the main area of concern rather than the cooling system? It can be confusing, but the cooling system in your car, i.e., the radiator, coolant, etc., is vital to keeping your engine cool no matter what time of year it is. Even in the winter.
And the coolant inside the system, also known as antifreeze, is incredibly important in the winter because it stops the other fluids in your car’s various systems from freezing. Antifreeze protects the engine, the air-conditioning system, the heater core, and more. So without it, you run the risk of having serious engine issues or your heater and defroster failing unexpectedly.
While technicians will almost always check the antifreeze level during the seasonal service mentioned above, this step is easy enough that you don’t need to take it to the shop. Just wait until the engine is cool and pop open the coolant reservoir cap. Then simply check the fluid level and top it off if necessary. Antifreeze is one thing that you definitely don’t want to run out of in the middle of winter!
Consider Getting a Set of Winter Tires
If you were to think about your car and come up with a list of the most important parts, you might think of big things like the engine or maybe something like the brakes. While those are undoubtedly incredibly important, something that people often overlook the importance of is their tires.
Think about your car again. How many parts actually come in contact with the road? Only one. The tires. Car tires are the only thing that allows you to actually go down the road, and a set of good tires makes all the difference in terms of control, handling, and safety. When it comes to prepping your car for winter, a set of winter tires should be at the top of your list.
Winter tires are the single best thing that a car can have when the roads are in bad shape. In fact, a rear-wheel drive car with winter tires will outperform an all-wheel drive car on regular tires every time. Designed to cut through snow and ice and offer unparalleled grip, winter tires are a must for anyone who will be driving on roads that might be covered after a winter storm.
Get Your Car’s Battery Tested
One of the most common issues that cars have in the winter is a battery dying. They just always seem to die at the worst possible time, right when it’s freezing outside and you just want to get your car turned on and the heat cranked up. But there’s a reason for that—the freezing temperatures of winter slow down the chemical reactions inside the battery. And when that happens, it can spell disaster when you try to start your car.
And what could be worse than getting into your car in the morning to get to work and the finding out the battery is dead? Especially after you just spent ten minutes scraping the ice and snow off the windows, freezing your hands off. To make sure that you don’t get stuck in this situation, have your battery tested before winter arrives to ensure that it’s in good shape.
Batteries wear out over time, and the cold temperatures of winter just make it even worse. So head to your local auto parts store and ask them if they can test your battery. Most stores will actually do it for free, and it takes under five minutes, so it’s super easy. Many places will even sell you a battery and install it for you for free right there in the parking lot! This is one of the easiest ways to get your car ready for the winter so you don’t get stuck somewhere in the cold.
Install All-Weather Floor Mats
We know what you’re thinking, your car already has the floor mats that came with the car. While that may be true, winter can produce lots of nasty stuff that will quickly ruin those nice (often carpeted) floor mats. The best way to protect the inside of your car is to get some nice all-weather floor mats.
In the winter, your shoes or boots quickly get covered in snow, ice, slush, salt, and dirt. If there’s any sort of bad weather, your feet just get absolutely caked in the stuff! And then, once you get in your car and turn the heat on, it melts and runs right off onto your nice floor. Protect your carpet with all-weather floor mats that can stand up to the elements.
Just pull them out every once in a while and spray them off, and you’re good to go!
Create a Winter Emergency Kit
Having an emergency kit in your car at all times is never a bad idea—in fact, we recommend it—and having one in the winter is even more important. If you ever have an issue with your car and you break down somewhere in the middle of winter, you’ll want to have everything you need to stay safe and stay warm.
Many of the items you’ll want in your winter emergency kit are the same ones that you’ll have in your all-year kit. But there are some differences to help you deal with the frigid temperatures in the dead of winter. Here are some key winter-related items that you’ll want to include:
- Extra blankets
- Snow shovel
- Winter gloves
- Winter boots
- Candles (to help stay warm)
- Ice scraper
- Hand warmers
- Kitty litter (to help gain traction)
Keep in mind, these are just special items to add to your car for winter. You should always have a regular emergency kit in your car for your everyday needs!
Conclusion & Recommendation
Prepping your car for winter might not seem like it’s the most important thing in the world. After all, you’ve probably gone through plenty of winters without having any issues whatsoever. But trying to figure out even a small car problem in the middle of winter can lead to a serious headache.
And as you can see from this guide, it’s actually super simple to prepare your car for the cold months of winter. Now, you don’t have to do everything on this list—although we recommend it here at CarDigest—but it’s better to do something rather than nothing. If nothing else, at least take your car into the shop for a seasonal service. They’ll take care of lots of the smaller things and give you peace of mind.
And, of course, never forget your winter emergency kit! If anything were to happen, it would help you to stay warm and safe!