How To Prepare Your Used Car For The Canadian Winter

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If you’re Canadian, you’re probably well aware of the joys of winter driving – especially if you live in a northern province where you’re blessed with snow from October-April. Winter driving can be stressful, annoying, and dangerous – unless you’re prepared.

So in this article, we’ll take a look at 5 simple steps that you can take to prepare your car for the Canadian winter, provided by car restoration Vancouver BC experts, to keep yourself warm, dry, and sane throughout the dark winter months.


  1. Check Your Car’s Tire Pressure And Tread Depth – And Invest In Winter Tires

If you’re in a more southern city such as Toronto, you may not need winter tires – but you should still check your tire pressure and tread depth. In cold weather, tires lose air pressure, and you’ll want to top them off before you start driving.
You should also check your tire tread depth – in Canada, your tires must have at least 1.6mm of tread. Beyond this, your tires must be removed from service, and the recommended minimum tread depth is around 3mm for all-season tires, and 5mm for winter tires.

If you live in a more northern province such as Quebec, you’ll be legally obligated to buy winter tires and use them on your car from December 15 – March 15 – but you’ll likely want to install them sooner.

  1. Check Your Coolant And Antifreeze Levels

Guess what the primary function of antifreeze is. No, go on, guess! If you guessed “to stop my car from freezing”, congratulations! You win a prize!

But seriously, antifreeze and coolant are crucial to the smooth operation of your engine in the cold winter months. If your antifreeze levels aren’t up to par, or you’re using a watered-down engine coolant and antifreeze, your car’s engine could completely freeze in the harsh Canadian winter – leaving you stranded, and potentially leading to catastrophic damage.

Prevent this by testing your coolant and antifreeze levels – you should be able to get a test kit at Canadian Tire or a specialty automotive store. Not all antifreeze is created equal, either – some have larger proportions of water, and have a higher freezing point. You should look for antifreeze that’s rated for at least -20C operation. Adding antifreeze is simple – just pop the hood, look for the coolant container, and pour until it’s full.

  1. Change Your Oil

It’s generally recommended to change the oil in your car before the harsh winter – heavier oil used in the summer is much more viscous, and can have a hard time properly performing in the cold, even with a block heater. This is because the cold causes the oil to become even more thick and solid – and if you run your car while the oil isn’t flowing well, you could cause long term damage to critical engine components.

You should look for a 5W-30 oil – or whatever your driver’s manual recommends for winter driving. In addition, consider a synthetic oil rather than conventional. Though synthetics are more expensive, they tend to last longer, pick up less debris, and offer better performance – all of which are great attributes in the harsh Canadian winter.

  1. Check Your Wipers – And Change Your Windshield Wiper Fluid

This step may seem a bit simple, but it should not be ignored. First, check your windshield wipers – are they performing well? Are they leaving streaks? If so, you may want to swap them out. Winter driving is already dangerous – but if mud, snow, or ice starts streaking across your windshield, your visibility could be compromised even further, leading to very dangerous situations.

You should also swap the windshield wiper fluid you’re using for a winter windshield wiper fluid. These fluids are designed specifically not to freeze, and to help you loosen snow, ice, salt residue, and mud from your car’s windshield, keeping it clean and clear even in the dead of winter.

  1. Check Your Battery – While It’s Still Warm Outside

Checking your car’s battery is a crucial step toward being prepared for winter weather. Car batteries can last anywhere between 2-6 years – and if you haven’t had yours checked recently, you should do so before you start driving in the winter.

Just about any automotive shop is willing to test your car battery for free – just take it out, bring it in, and let them hook it up to their tester. They’ll let you know the health of your battery – and whether or not you should consider buying a new one.

It’s important to do this while it’s warm outside because a failed battery in the dead of winter can be extremely dangerous – you may have a hard time getting your car jumped, and if it’s cold enough, your life could be at risk, even when waiting for a tow truck.

Follow These Steps – And Drive During The Winter With Confidence!

Driving through the Canadian winter can still be a bit of a burden, but with these simple tips, you’ll be able to minimize your risk of an accident or a serious mechanical failure, and blast through our lovely wintry wonderland in style.

So follow these tips, make sure your car is ready for the winter, and rest easy, knowing you’re prepared for the cold.