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The fastest way to stop a car in deep snow is to stomp on the brakes to lock up the wheels and let a solid wedge of packed snow build up in front of the tires. (If your vehicle is equipped with ABS brakes, you can't do this, of course, because you can't lock up the wheels).
Wintertime vehicle checklist
Tips to Prepare Your Vehicle for the Cold & Snow
It's a well-known fact that every year a large majority of the more than 16
million vehicles on the road are caught unprepared for the first blast of
really cold weather. Don't be caught unprepared. Spending a little bit of
time and effort now, can save you time, effort, frustration, and even money
Here is a quick list of things to check before that first nasty blast of
If it hasn't been done in a while, flush out your cooling system with a good
chemical cleaner and put in fresh anti-freeze. Remember to use the
anti-freeze in its proper proportions. Pure anti-freeze (most often made of
ethylene glycol) does not cool or protect as well as the proper mixture of
water and anti-freeze which is described on the anti-freeze container. And
don't forget to check containers, belts, hoses, the pressure caps and
Battery & Electrical System
If your battery is more than a few years old, have it checked. Cold weather
is hard on batteries. Be sure connections are clean and tight. Corroded or
loose connections can give the symptoms of a weak or dead battery.
Is it time for a tune-up? Faulty wiring, worn spark plugs, a sticking choke
or emission control devices that need attention, can all lead to hard
starting. A diagnostic checkup of the engine can be a good winter
Oil & Filter
Dirty oil can give you trouble in the winter. Now's the time to change it.
Change the oil filter too! And don't forget to check the other filters on
your car, including the fuel, air and transmission filters. (The
transmission filter should be changed with the transmission fluid when it is
changed during regular preventative maintenance.)
Defensive driving instructors will tell you that vision of the road and the
traffic around you is your most potent defence against collisions. Keeping
your windshield clean during a snow fall is a good start.
Just as there is seasonal windshield washer fluid, there are seasonal and
high performance wiper blades. Car Care Canada recommends switching blades
every six months, in the fall/winter and in the spring. Winter wiper blades
are typically well-protected against ice and snow build up, so that the
rubber wiping blade remains flat on the windshield. The rubber used has
better cold weather performance, too.
For every 50 degree Celsius of temperature drop, your tire pressure decreases by
one pound. Tires which are under-inflated by only eight pounds can reduce
gas mileage by five percent and cut tire life by 25% or more. Check
your tire pressure regularly.
And don't forget to carry an emergency kit in your vehicle during the winter
months, it could save your life. A survival kit should include:
1. Scrapper and brush
3. Booster cables
4. Sand, salt or kitty litter (may help to free your vehicle if it's
5. Traction pads or pieces of old carpeting
6. First aid kit
9. Extra fuses, radiator hoses, and fan belts (pantyhose can be a quick
10. Blankets or sleeping bags (for warmth)
11. Extra winter clothing (again for warmth)
12. Tow line or chain
13. A supply of non-perishable foods such as chocolate bars, instant
soup, tea or coffee (should you get stranded for a long period of time)
14. A tin can and matches or a lighter and candles to melt snow (never
use unmelted snow as a substitute for drinking water; plus, a single candle
can warm an empty full-sized sealed car by 4.5 degrees C0)
15. An emergency supply of prescription drugs if necessary.
Following these simple tips will help you to survive another Canadian
If you would like more vehicle maintenance tips, visit the aiacanada website.
Free maintenance tips booklet
Requests for Car Care Canada's "Under the Hood" brochure (which gives a 'tour' of a vehicle
under the hood and around the vehicle, and suggests simple maintenance
practices) can be sent to Car Care Canada, 1272 Wellington Street, Ottawa,
ON, K1Y 3A7, Canada.