Winter in Canada seems like it was singularly designed to wreak havoc on cars. Of each of our locations across Canada (Vancouver, Halifax and Toronto), Vancouver sees the mildest winter, but even there, you can expect some freezing rain and the odd snowfall. Halifax comes a relatively close second, with a mild-ish winter (at least as far as Canada is concerned) that features scatters of rain and snow throughout.
Toronto, the coldest of the three, gets slammed during the winter – or, at least it did the past couple years. It enjoys snow, sub-zero temperatures and, in order to keep the road from freezing, more salt than a pretzel factory.
Wherever you are, whether you’re west, east or right smack dab in the middle of the country, if you drive a car, it pays to know some winter care basics. As Canada’s premier luxury car dealership we at AUTO ONE Group have a vested interested in keeping the country’s cars running well and looking great. But, more than that, winter car care is also about keeping you safe.
Just because the weather outside is frightful, it doesn’t mean your vehicle has to be as well. Take a look at these eight car care tips, written specifically to get you through a Canadian winter!
Drive On Winter Tires
This should be a no-brainer. Whether you’re in Vancouver, Halifax or Toronto, the safest tire to put under your car is a winter tire. Not an all-season tire, not an all-weather tire, but a winter tire. Of the three, winter tires perform best on wet or rough ice, and in the snow.
Wax On – Protect Your Car From Salt
The salt assault can’t be stopped, but it can be protected against. Your defense strategy should be two-pronged: wash your car often (more on that in a moment) and apply wax and sealant to form a barrier against the salt. Once before the winter, and once afterwards should do the trick.
The reason you want to keep salt away from your car is that it accelerates the rusting process. Salt lowers the temperature of ice and snow on the road, creating a liquid rich in free radical ions, which, once splashed all over your car, speedily work to create rust.
Wax won’t tackle the underbelly of the car, however; for that, you’ll need to consider undercoating.
Know When (and How) to Wash
It’s inadvisable to wash your car in sub-zero temperatures, since you don’t want the water freezing to the vehicle. Having said that, some people have had luck heating their car up before washing it, to inhibit freezing. Even then, at best you’ll be left with a hazardously icy driveway.
It’s best to wait for temperatures to climb back above zero before washing your car. If you absolutely have to wash your car in freezing temperatures, either go to a professional, or check out this in-depth DIY tutorial.
Get Some Cold Temperature Wiper Fluid
You might consider replacing your wipers altogether, but as a start at least ensure that you’re working with wiper fluid designed for cold temperatures. This is a safety measure, for sure. You do not want to be caught in low visibility conditions only to find that your wipers won’t work or the wiper fluid won’t discharge.
Before the temperature really starts to drop, take care of your wipers. It doesn’t matter if you have a daily driver or one of the most expensive cars in the world – if the wipers don’t work properly, the car can’t perform properly in the winter.
Park Facing East
This was a tip that was making the rounds a few years ago. Essentially, the thinking here is that if you park your car facing east, the morning sun will act as a kind of natural defroster for your windshield, meaning you won’t have to spend minutes scraping and defrosting.
It’s not exactly a “care” tip, but we thought it was interesting nonetheless! And while you’re taking a break from these care tips, why not check out these luxury cars for lease on our website (now that is seamless product placement!)
Consider Rubber Floor Mats
Some luxury cars come with all-weather floor mats, but for those that don’t, you might consider them in the winter. The alternative is caked on salt and mud throughout the winter, which is a real pain to clean.
It is such a nuisance here in Canada, in fact, that the Globe and Mail devoted an entire article last year to the best protective mats for your car. It’s a good read (as good as any article about protective mats can be) and contains some solid tips for choosing the right mats and floor liners.
Stay on Top of Your Oil
Winter affects the viscosity of oil, causing it to thicken and flow more sluggishly. This can, over time, have a damaging effect on your engine. That is, unless you choose the right oil, and stay on top of oil changes.
The right type of oil is any oil with a “W”, which stands for “winter” (it does not, as many believe, stand for “weight”). The best is multi-grade oil, which means that it can change its viscosity based on whether the engine is warm or cold.
Carry Jumper Cables
Ever take your cellphone out in freezing temperature, only to find that the battery zaps incredibly quickly. Winter is hard on batteries, and your car battery is no exception. If your car battery is old, go ahead and replace it. If you aren’t ready to replace it, the least you can do is carry around jumper cables, lest you get stranded in sub-zero weather without way to jumpstart your car.
Cars, just like us, don’t work quite as well in the freezing weather. Their oil thickens, their battery drains, their body corrodes, and they tend to slip more easily. Give your beloved vehicle a helping hand this winter with the eight care tips above!