Top 3 winter driving tips

Cars driving in a city on a snowy day in Canada.

Driving  by Elmuzzerino.  CC0

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Is it your first time to drive in the snow? If you have not experienced it, driving in winter can have many challenges and hazards if you are not prepared. In Manitoba, you should expect to be driving under this weather for four months (or more) in the year, so it pays to prepare for it. Here are a few tips to follow before and during the winter months:

  1. Prepare

    a. Get your vehicle ready
    The key to getting your car winterized properly is to start early. Getting ready before the first snow fall hits ensures that you will be able to complete all necessary measures since you won’t be rushing. You’ll also avoid long lines for tires or maintenance check-ups if you begin your preparations early in the fall.

    Start by tidying up the inside of your car. Vacuum the carpets, dust off the dashboard, clean out your trunk to make space for winter accessories or tools. Replace your floor mats. You may also opt to have your car waxed to protect your car’s exterior. A good maintenance check follows, paying close attention to your car battery, brakes, windshield wipers, lights, and tires.

    This video entitled Get your car ready for winter:Advice from Consumer Reports has so many practical car winterizing, car maintenance, and emergency situation tips:

    b. Plan your driving
    Make a driving routine that consists of checking the weather and road conditions prior to leaving the house. Remember to take into account that you will be driving slower so you may need to leave the house earlier. Watch out for extreme weather warnings. When an extreme weather warning is up, make sure that you have you have an emergency kit before setting off. Opt to stay home if you have no urgent business outside.

    Have enough time to warm up your car (never do this in a closed garage) before travelling. This reduces moisture on the inside of the windows. Always make sure that you are properly dressed for the weather. This includes having a good pair of shades to deflect brightness (remember, you’re in sunny Manitoba).

    c. Prepare a winter driving kit
    Gather tools, spare clothes, and food for any emergencies and keep them in your trunk (or inside the car as long as they are easily accessible).

  2. Your winter driving kit

    • Extra warm clothing (including hat and dry footwear)
    • Blanket
    • Paper towels
    • Flashlight
    • Snack bars, water
    • First aid kit
    • Road maps
    • Matches and emergency candles (don’t forget to open car windows if you need to light the candles)
    • Tire chains
    • Bag of sand or salt or kitty litter
    • Traction mats
    • Snow shovel
    • Snow brush
    • Ice scraper
    • Booster cables
    • Warning devices (e.g. flares, emergency lights, or brightly colored help signs)
    • Fuel line de-icer (methanol, also called methyl alcohol or methyl hydrate)
    • Extra windshield wiper fluid appropriate for sub-freezing temperatures

    Always make sure that your mobile phone is charged. Have a car charger with you.

  3. Learn about winter driving best practices

    Winter driving is all about practicing caution and anticipating problems in order to avoid them. Observe the usual safety precautions such as buckling up, slowing down (roads are extra slippery), being alert (especially for black ice), and knowing the proper steering and braking procedures. Watch this short video for helpful tips on safe winter driving from the AAA:

Article updated October 5, 2021.
Adapted from: Driving Tips-Winter from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety and’s How to Winterize your car.

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Top 3 Winter Driving Tips

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