Winter vehicle breakdowns and prevention
Have you ever gone out in the winter and tried to start your car, but your ignition stalled? In those moments you worry as a whole slew of thoughts come to mind. It’s cold, you don’t want to call anyone, you’re going to be late, you don’t want to deal with fixing your car now; the list goes on and on.
Despite your best efforts to maintain your car, sometimes it breaks down at the most inconvenient time, winter included.
Make sure you’re prepared for an emergency with these tips:
Make sure your vehicle is prepared for driving:
- Install winter tires for more traction on the road when it’s icy out.
- Keep a brush and scraper in your car for clearing off snow.
- Before you start driving, clear your vehicle of all snow and remove frost from windows and mirrors. Don’t forget to clear the top of your vehicle too, or you may be ticketed.
Have an emergency roadside kit in the car that includes the following:
- Battery jumper cables, to help if your vehicle needs a boost to start.
- Blankets and extra clothing, to keep you and others warm if you need to wait out a storm and have no heat.
- Flashlight, in case it’s late at night.
- Back up battery charger for your phone, in case your battery is down to 10 per cent or lower.
- Shovel, so you can dig your vehicle out of snow if necessary.
- Sand/salt/cat litter, in case you end up stuck in a snowbank with slick snow.
These aren’t the only things that should be in your emergency kit! Read our extensive list on what should be in your emergency roadside kit to make sure you’re fully covered.
What is the most common cause of car breakdowns in the winter?
There are many reasons why your vehicle breaks down, from simple things like a flat tire to more complex things like engine trouble. Things to consider that may be the cause of your vehicle breaking down include the following:
- Battery: If you’re driving an older vehicle, make sure your battery isn’t old! A battery can last as long as five years, but it depends on a few factors such as the climate you live in, distances you drive, and more.
- Tires: Under-inflated and over-inflated tires can increase a vehicle’s fuel consumption, affect traction, and increase wear on tires and suspension components.
- Fuel: Don’t drive on a nearly empty tank of gas, especially in the winter! In fact, you should keep half a tank of gas in your car in the winter.
- Motor oil: Not changing your oil can affect your engine’s performance. Motor oil is responsible for three crucial things:
- Lubricating the engine
- Cooling down the internal combustion engine
- Cleaning engine parts
How can you help prevent winter vehicle breakdowns?
By understanding some of the common causes of car breakdowns in the winter, you can take measures to help prevent this situation from happening to you. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure you replace things like your battery, brakes, and vehicle fluids regularly. Proper maintenance can go a long way towards keeping your vehicle running. Check your owner’s manual for maintenance recommendations.
- Take care of your tires. Make sure they’re season appropriate and well inflated. Also, be sure you have a spare tire, just in case!
Make sure you’re protected
Driving can get tricky when the temperature drops. From roads covered with black ice to whiteout visibility, it’s preferable to avoid these conditions when possible. Unfortunately, there are times when driving in the winter is unavoidable. That’s why it is imperative that drivers are prepared for all types of emergencies, including vehicle breakdowns. Make sure you have personal or commercial auto insurance coverage to ensure you’re protected in case you’re ever in an accident.
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, see policy for details.