It doesn’t matter if you have been driving for one year or twenty, winter weather driving can be challenging and stressful. It’s also hard on cars. Not only do extreme conditions cause extra wear and tear on your vehicle, the risk of getting in an accident is greater in winter than any other time of year. In fact, motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death in severe weather.
Your Alberta auto insurance provider wants to help you make sure you and your car make it through the winter without having to file an insurance claim. By taking steps to make sure your vehicle is ready for winter and following safe driving practices, you will be better prepared to avoid accidents in winter conditions.
Preparing your car for winter driving
Wet, snowy weather is hard on your car. Cold temperatures make the roads slippery, and stormy weather makes it difficult to see. Your Alberta auto insurance provider recommends taking these steps to ensure your car is ready.
Get your car winterized
Have a professional check your car before the weather turns bad. A proper winterization will include a complete check of your car’s engine, all fluid levels, hoses, the heating and cooling system, its battery, all exterior lights, the brakes, and tires. They will change the oil to a lighter viscosity, so your engine stays lubricated when temperatures drop.
Visibility is key
Being able to see and be seen is essential. No one wants to get in the car to drive home during the first big storm and discover the wiper blades are cracked and dried out. Your Alberta auto insurance company offers these tips to improve your visibility:
- Put on winter wiper blades to prevent ice from building up on the wipers.
- Fill your windshield washer fluid and keep a refill container in your vehicle. Use a fluid with the right formula to keep it from freezing.
- Keep extra light bulbs in your car in case one burns out.
- If your vehicle is more than a few years old, keep a supply of fuses as well.
- Clean your car regularly to prevent ice buildup.
- Be sure to completely remove ice from your windshield and snow from the vehicle before you get behind the wheel.
Put on winter tires
Winter tires decrease stopping distances and help your car corner better in cold temperatures. You can switch to winter tires as soon as the weather is consistently under 7 Celsius—even if there’s no snow or ice on the road. Be sure to put winter tires on all four wheels and check them regularly to make sure they are properly inflated.
Winter driving tips
Prepare your car and prepare yourself. Driving safely in winter weather means you will likely have to contend with reduced visibility and slippery roads. These driving tips from your Alberta auto insurance company will help reduce the risks that come with winter driving.
- Always wear your seat belt.
- Drive with your lights on.
- Reduce your speed. Posted speed limits are for ideal conditions, not wet or snowy roads.
- Allow plenty of space for other drivers. Winter weather means vehicles need more room to stop.
- Don’t try to pass when the roads are slick.
- Remember, overpasses and bridges can get icy even when roads aren’t.
- Watch carefully for “black ice”.
- Accelerate slowly to maintain control.
- If your car has anti-lock brakes, don’t pump them. Stomp on them and keep steering.
- Stay alert. Because winter driving is stressful enough on its own, don’t drive when you’re tired, taking medication, or after drinking alcohol. Don’t use cruise control.
- Don’t be a distracted driver. If you need to use your cell phone, park safely off the road.
- Pack an emergency kit with warm clothing, gloves, boots, paper towels, a first-aid kit, an emergency light (or flares), jumper cables, a bag of sand or salt, and tire chains.
As your Alberta insurance provider, we want to help you and your car safely through the winter driving season. There’s no doubt that winter driving is rough for cars and their owners. By taking a few basic steps to prepare your car and following some common sense driving tips, you can be ready.