Car tires on winter road covered with snow.
3 minute read

Winter is coming.

While that means it’s time to start considering your holiday plans and pulling your winter coat out of storage, it also means it’s time for preventative winter car maintenance. It’s better to discover issues with your car or your company cars now, rather than while on the road dealing with snow, ice, and cold temperatures.

Before you or an employee gets behind the wheel, here are some suggestions of things you can check in your car and company cars:

Winter tires

You’ve probably heard this a thousand times, but we’re going to say it again: it’s important to switch out your regular tires for winter tires. Even if you have all-season tires which can provide safe all-weather performance, winter tires offer up to 50 per cent or more traction than all-seasons, according to the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada.

In fact, as soon as temperatures drop below 7 degrees Celsius, there’s a difference in performance between winter tires and all-season tires. Installing winter tires on all-wheel positions will improve your surface grip in every type of road condition. There’s also the added bonus that installing winter tires will lower your auto insurance premium in some provinces, like Ontario.

On top of that, the air pressure in all four tires should be checked, as well as the air pressure in your spare tire. During the winter, the pressure in tires can drop significantly due to the cold air, so it’s a good idea to perform routine checks throughout the winter months.

Wiper blades

Visibility while driving in the winter is vital, especially if a storm hits. That’s why wiper blades should be checked early in the season and replaced if they streak. Wiper blades should be changed at least twice a year and it’s worth considering getting special winter wiper blades to prevent snow and ice buildup.

Vehicle fluids

Before driving in the winter, check your gas tank to make sure it’s full. Traffic or bad weather conditions may force you or an employee to pull over and idle for some time. Also check the engine oil if it hasn’t been changed in a while.

Other vehicle fluids you should be paying attention to are windshield washer fluid and engine coolants. Replace engine coolants after more than two years and fill your engine cooling system with a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and distilled water to prevent freezing and boiling over. Refer to your car owner’s manual to find out which coolant is right for your vehicle.

Batteries

The last thing you want is your battery to fail you while you’re out driving in the cold. Battery faults can cause breakdowns, especially when temperatures are cold which can take a particularly high toll on a battery’s life. To ensure your battery is still in good working order, you can have a service garage take a look.

The average battery life is generally three to five years. If you’ve had your battery for longer than that and you’re experiencing difficulties with starting your car, it may be time to consider getting a new battery. It is relatively easy to install a car battery on your own.

Air conditioning system

Believe it or not, it’s important to ensure your air conditioning system is in good condition before the winter. Why, you may ask? It’s your air conditioning system that defrosts and humidifies the inside of your car. So, if you turn your heat on in the winter and your air conditioning isn’t working properly, it won’t be able to defrost your windows and pull the moisture out of the inside of the car, which will leave a musty odor. When having your air conditioning system checked, it’s a good idea to have your block heater looked at too.

Brakes

Finding out your brakes don’t work at an inopportune moment is the last thing anyone wants to experience, especially when it’s cold and there may be ice on the road. To ensure that doesn’t happen, have your brakes checked or serviced to ensure even braking. Pulling, change in pedal feel, or unusual squealing or grinding could mean they need to be repaired. If you notice any of these things, have your brakes checked!

Lighting

Since there’s less daylight during the winter, especially during people’s commutes, suitable lighting on your car is even more important. Be sure to fix any bulbs that are out and consider replacing any headlights that are foggy or yellow. Before driving, make sure you clear away any snow covering exterior lights on your car.

Be prepared

Even with all of these precautions, something may still go wrong once you or your employees are out on the road. To ensure you’re prepared for that situation, an emergency roadside kit is vital. It can include things like a shovel, a small tool kit, booster cables, blankets, and matches. Commercial auto insurance is also key, so you’re secure in the knowledge that you’re covered. Learn more about commercial auto insurance today!

This blog is provided for information only and is not a substitute for professional advice. We make no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information and will not be responsible for any loss arising out of reliance on the information. Terms, conditions and exclusions apply to coverage. See policy for details.