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Are you ready for the polar coaster?

Snow, sleet, ice rain, black ice, whiteouts...Newcomers facing driving during their first winter can be overwhelmed by all that the season can throw at them.

Observing the do’s and don’ts for driving in snowy conditions can go a long way in alleviating that stress.

And with the “polar coaster” bringing icy arctic weather across Canada this winter, preparing your vehicle for harsh conditions can save the headache of surprise expenses and ensure your car is the safest possible.

Michael Bettencourt, managing editor at Autotrader.ca, knows firsthand the impact vehicle preparation has on road safety. Here are his expert tips to help you stay safe in snowy conditions.

Do: Consider winter tires. All-season tires won’t provide the same level of traction once snow, ice and freezing rain cover the roads. If you already use winter tires, beat delays and unnecessary safety risks by booking your appointment with a trusted mechanic. New to buying winter tires? Make sure you know the size and compatibility of a tire with your vehicle prior to purchasing. Some drivers might be tempted to save money by only purchasing two winter tires, but a vehicle should have a set of four matching tires for optimal performance.

Don’t: Ignore your service light. Staying safe in harsh winter driving conditions begins before you leave the driveway. If your service light is on, it’s time to stop by your local mechanic for a check-up. While you’re there, tune up your vehicle with a fresh oil change, de-icer wiper fluid and a brakes check.

Do: Check your emergency kit. Remember that emergency kit you threw in the trunk of your car when you first bought it? It’s time to take it out and make sure it still meets your winter needs. Some things you’ll need to include to winterize your kit are gloves, salt, a flashlight and de-icing equipment.

Don’t: Forget to clear snow off your vehicle. Now that your vehicle is ready to brace the brunt of winter storms, don’t forget to clear all debris off your vehicle before hitting the roads. You can be fined if snow covers your headlights or windows, so it’s worth the extra time to make sure your vehicle is free and clear of any debris.

– News Canada 

4 tips to get you through winter driving season

We try as hard as we can to forget everything winter brings, but when the windchill and -20°C temperatures return, it’s important to be prepared and remember proper driving techniques as roads get slick with ice.

Here are four tips to keep you safe on the road:

Winter tires are the support you need. When the temperature drops below 7°C, the grip and function of your all-season tires diminish. Winter tires are essential because they are specially designed for freezing temperatures and the challenging weather conditions winter brings.

Make sure your car has enough fluids. With winter comes slush and unpredictable traffic conditions. As a driver, be prepared by ensuring your gas and windshield fluids are always topped up. Keep your gas tank at least half full for the duration of winter, because you never know when you’ll need to keep your engine running out in the cold. We also know that when the snow melts, gross grey slush can splash up and dirty our windshield, so it’s a great idea to keep a container (or two) of windshield washer fluid in your trunk at all times.

Find calm while driving. Driving on icy roads, in blowing snow or through whiteout conditions can make drivers very tense. To help avoid even more dangerous situations, drivers should try to remain calm and remember key tips:

• Keep a light grip on your steering wheel – a tight grip can give you hand cramps and make you even more tense.

• Reduce your speed to a safe and comfortable one to give you greater control – this will help prevent accidents.

• Maintain a good distance from the vehicle in front of you and keep your hands at 9 and 3 o’clock.

• Make sure your car is clear of snow before you set off and that your wipers are functioning correctly.

Know what to do in a slide-y situation. One of the scariest situations of winter driving is when you hit an icy patch.

It’s important not to panic or make any sudden manoeuvres. In an oversteer or fish-tail situation, keep your eyes focused on where you want your car to go – not where it’s taking you – and turn your wheel in that direction. If you do find yourself in a ditch or on the side of the road waiting for help, stay with your car (if it’s safe), stay warm, stay visible (put a bright cloth on the antenna and raise the hood), and run the engine and heater only 10 minutes every hour, keeping a downwind window open.

More tips on winter preparedness at belairdirect.com.

– News Canada 

Posted: Jan 4, 2020

March 2020

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