Pumpkin spice latte season brings out conflicting feelings for me. On the one hand, it’s a pumpkin spice latte, guys! Plus, pumpkin spice muffins! (Yes, I am one of those nerds that love pumpkin spice – though I do draw the line at pumpkin spice lip-gloss). On the other hand, pumpkin spice heralds the arrival of fall, which is followed close by winter. Super close for places like Calgary and Winnipeg! And while I enjoy cruising the highways and byways of British Columbia in the summer, I could do without winter driving.
But, as a Canadian, winter is in my blood and I know I need to do my part to keep the roads safe during the dark and snowy months. This is my “Getting My Car Winter-Ready Essentials Checklist” (I’m working on a snappier title – suggestions welcome in the comments). It’s not exhaustive, but it will start you and your car down the right road.
We know we need to switch to winter tires, but when? Our Ultra 94 tire expert, John Mahler, has the answer:
The weather is shifting, and not for the better … (there’s) less tire grip, so caution on the throttle. When the average temperature for the day gets to be about +7C, it is time to consider some winter rubber for your ride.
That +7C mark is about where your summer high performance tires grip levels have dropped to the point where a winter tire has just as much grip. Then, as the mercury drops, summer tires lose even more grip and the winter rubber gets more stick. Notice I said winter tires, not snow tires. Long gone are the big chunky tires that couldn’t handle bare pavement. Now winter tires are available in speed ratings all the way to W, that’s 270 km/h.
I’ll admit, my car battery isn’t something I regularly think about. But with elevated temperatures this summer, I probably should. According to the battery experts over at CAA-Quebec, those high temperatures could affect the chemical reactions in the battery and cause it to be even less responsive in those cold winter months. So swing by your favourite car repair shop and get your battery tested.
Wipers are something I do think about a lot, especially in Vancouver. There was a time when my wipers weren’t clearing my windshield in a single sweep. The blades weren’t cracked or torn, but they just weren’t doing the job. I replaced them with a different size and my visibility improved dramatically. Make sure your wipers are up to snuff - clearing your windshield in a single sweep, aren’t cracked and aren’t bumping on your windshield. You can reasonably expect to replace the blades twice a year.
Windshield Washer Fluid
While we’re on the subject of windshields .. this is also the time of year where you want to make sure your windshield washer fluid can handle the cold. Some brands are specially formulated for use in winter – they won’t freeze and are tough on winter gunk like rock salt.
Finally, pull out your car’s emergency kit and give it a once-over, replacing or updating any items as necessary.
And that’s my Winter-Ready Essentials checklist! There are definitely other items to inspect on your car as we get deeper into the snowy season, but this is a good start. Are there any winter-ready maintenance essentials that you do in the fall? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
~ Rose R.