Winter Auto Care
You already have some idea of what's coming with winter: snow, slush, ice roads, bad road conditions, and cold, cold weather. If you're not ready for it, driving can become a lot more challenging.
Getting your car ready for winter doesn't have to take a lot of work, but can take away a lot of worry. Doing a quick inventory will help you be sure you have all of your winter essentials at the ready. Then, a few simple steps will make your vehicle winter-ready.
Winter Driving Essentials
There are a few things you should have on hand before the cold weather arrives. Even if you've had your car through winter before, and you have many of these items already, inspect them and consider how well they suited you last year. Today's product innovations mean you can likely benefit from a few updates.
Kit for a Safe Winter Driving
You probably already have a standard automotive safety kit, with a flashlight, a reflective triangle or pylon, and some form of multi-tool. A winter safety kit should include more than just these basics. To be prepared, you should ensure you have all of the following in your vehicle for the winter months.
- Ice Scraper and Snow Brush
- Snow Shovel
- Reflective Safety Triangles/Pylons
- Booster Cables/Booster Pack
- Traction Aid
- Extra Windshield Washer Fluid
- Emergency Blanket & Winter Clothes
- Emergency food
- Candle, can and matches
- First Aid Kit
- 12-Volt Air Compressor
- Tire Sealant
You'll find winter safety kits at Canadian Tire that include many of these items packaged in a convenient carrying case. Some winter safety kits sold at Canadian Tire even include a membership to the Canadian Tire Roadside Assistance Program—a great comfort and potentially invaluable during winter.
A good quality snow brush is essential for dealing with Canadian winters. When buying a snow brush, you'll want to consider:
- The type of car you have - Ensure that you get a snowbrush that suits the size of your vehicle—a 26" snowbrush will be less than ideal for tackling a large SUV. You can maximize your reach with a premium extendable snowbrush that has an integrated ice scraper. There are even some snowbrushes that pivot in the middle, allowing you to clear the snow off your roof without covering yourself with snow in the process.
- Your city's weather - If you get freezing rain, you'll want a sturdy ice scraper that can dig into the ice and quickly clear it away. If you generally get wet, heavy snow, you'll want a snowbrush with a sturdy squeegee or a large head to push away heavy snow. Never use a snow shovel or a household broom to push snow off your car—you may damage your vehicle’s paint.
Winter Floor Mats
Protect your vehicle's carpets from damaging salt, grit and melting snow. Winter floor mats are made of durable rubber and are easy to clean up. You'll find a wide assortment of winter floor mats to choose from at Canadian Tire, with styles from Michelin, Rubbermaid, Motomaster, Stanley and Certified.
When selecting winter floor mats, you should consider two things:
- Groove or tread depth - Make sure your winter floor mat has deep grooves and a large, continuous border. The grooves provide a reservoir to contain snow melted from your boots. The border keeps the water from spilling beyond the mat and onto your carpet.
- Proper coverage and fit - Not all "universal fit" floor mats are the same—some will fit your vehicle better than others. Before you go shopping, take note of the area you have to cover. Once you've purchased a mat, try placing it into your vehicle before you remove its packaging to be sure it's the right size.
Winter Cleaning Supplies
It may seem more pleasant to clean your car during the warmer months, but cold weather doesn't mean you should lower your standards of cleanliness. Between salt and slush, and cold and flu season, you'll want to keep a few things handy to keep your car's interior feeling fresh all winter long:
- Disinfecting Products - Wipes make it easy to quickly clean and disinfect your car's key touch points—steering wheel, console, door handle and dash.
- Glass Cleaners - The inside of your windshield and windows is just as important as the outside for seeing the road. Check out our wide assortment of auto glass cleaners, from anti-fog wipes to liquids and foams.
- Car Carpet & Upholstery - A 12-volt vacuum kept in your trunk makes clean-up quick and easy.
- Salt Stain Removers - Don't let winter ruin your floor mats and carpet. Try ‘Salt Eraser’ to clean quickly and effectively remove salt before it builds up.
- Odour Solutions - Your car doesn't get the same open window treatment in the winter. Hockey bags? Pets? Try 'Odour Stop' for a quick and effective solution to odours.
Make your vehicle winter-ready
Once you have all of the gear, it may seem like you're ready for winter. But you'll be even more comfortable knowing your car is ready, warm and waiting.
Top Up Your Fluid
Topping up your vehicle’s fluids is an often overlooked part of routine maintenance—but it's one of the easiest to perform and can reduce the potential for a roadside breakdown. Before filling up your fluids, be sure to check your owner’s manual—your vehicle may require specific grades or types.
The major fluids to top up are:
- Engine Oil - Synthetic oils are formulated to protect your engine from cold starts, and can be a better choice in winter than conventional oils.
- Winter Windshield Washer Fluid - Switch to a winter fluid—it'll be rated to not freeze in cold weather and have strong cleaning agents that get your windshield cleaner, faster.
- Car antifreeze/Coolant - Coolant with antifreeze is used in your car's radiator to displace heat away from your engine block. Check your owner’s manual to determine the right type of coolant your vehicle needs. When changing coolant/antifreeze, it's recommended you also perform a coolant system flush.
- Power Steering Fluid - In cold weather, gaskets shrink. Premium power steering fluids are formulated to condition seals and prevent leaks. Most power steering fluids can be used on any make or model of car, but check your owner’s manual to be sure you use the right type.
- Brake Fluid - The most common brake fluids are DOT 3 and DOT 4, and are available in synthetic blends. Brake fluid varies by type of vehicle and whether the vehicle uses ABS. Check your owner’s manual to be sure you get the right type of brake fluid.
- Automatic Transmission Fluid/Gear Oil - Transmission fluid is used in both automatic and manual transmissions. One key difference is Manual Transmissions use gear oil, while an Automatic Transmission uses standard ATF fluid. It is important to use the correct type of fluid with the appropriate transmission type. Transmission fluid type varies by type of vehicle and type of transmission (automatic/manual). Consult your owner’s manual to ensure you get the right type.
Consider using Gas Line Antifreeze
In the winter, water vapour from refuelling can condense in your gas tank and freeze, which can block gas from getting to your engine. A bottle of gas line antifreeze added to your tank with each fill up will prevent water vapour from freezing and clogging your lines.
Consider a Remote Car Starter
Make your drive more comfortable from the minute you climb into your vehicle. With a remote starter, you can start your vehicle from a distance of up to 2000 feet (600 metres) and let it warm up before you head out. You can get remote starters for automatic, manual and diesel vehicles—we recommend that you have a qualified technician perform the installation.
There are two types of remote starters: one-way and two-way. One-way remote starters are perfect if you can see your car from where you'll be starting it. These send a signal from the keychain LCD transmitter to the remote starter—the vehicle's parking lights are used to confirm that the car has started. If you are unable to see your vehicle when you'll be starting it, a two-way remote starter is ideal. These use an LCD transmitter plus the vehicle's parking lights to confirm that your vehicle has started. Clock, parking meter timer and run-time displays are also available on two-way systems. Most remote starters also include a keyless entry to lock and unlock your doors and trunk.
For the comfort and convenience of a remote starter and keyless entry, plus the security of a full-featured alarm system, consider an alarm/remote starter combo. For additional security, you can add a starter kill when you install your system, as a theft-prevention feature.
Related Buying Guides
- Learn About Tires
- Learn About Rims
- Winter Tires
- Winter Driving Checklist
- Automotive GPS
- Pressure Washers
- Automotive Shelters
- Reducing your Fuel Costs
- Battery Basics
- Choosing a Power Inverter
- Choosing the Right Motor Oil
- Wiper Blades
- Car Safety Useful Links