Embracing Winter Driving in Canada
Here are some tips to help you survive, and possibly enjoy, driving in the Canadian winter. To some, driving in winter is like doing the dishes or taking out the trash: it’s something that has to be done, but not everyone enjoys doing it. With snow, ice, fog, cold & wet pavement and the frigid temperatures, driving during the winter months is certainly a challenge. The trick to facing winter head-on is preparation. When you do have to drive in wintry conditions, we want you to be safe. At Pickering Volkswagen, we have prepared a helpful list of winter driving safety tips for you.
Before You Start Driving
- Install a proper set of winter tires specifically designed for these conditions and your Volkswagen. We can help with price specials and advice.
- Check weather and road reports to see what conditions are like. It’s wise to check hours before driving, even the night before, and give yourself extra time; rushing is not an option.
- Don’t drive if you don’t have to. Winter roads can be dangerous. In bad storms, unless it’s a necessity, stay safe and stay home.
- Be properly rested. Nothing is more dangerous than driving while fatigued. You always perform your best when rested, and in winter, ‘careful and attentive’ is the key.
- Keep your gas tank topped-up. Being low on fuel when stuck in traffic causes anxiety and can be dangerous; always be prepared. As well, fuel systems are susceptible to condensation (moisture accumulation is more rapid when your fuel tank is low) and in varying temperatures and this can cause fuel lines to freeze and damage to expensive components. To perform their best, every part of your Volkswagen likes to be run at operating temperature.
- Clean your boots and install VW Winter Mats (we have these too). Too much snow/moisture build-up inside your car can cause issues with defrosting your windows and may even compromise electrical systems. Avoid letting your car warm-up in the driveway – drive slowly and warm-up everything; transmission, brakes, interior and so on, together. Many short drives, without fully warming-up your car, can cause poor performance of your heating and defrosting systems, making it difficult to defrost the interior.
When You’re Driving
- Apply the gas and brakes gently. Sudden inputs of throttle, brakes and even steering can cause a loss of traction. Simply, maintaining ‘grip’ keeps you control. Be smooth – it will save fuel, tires, brakes and give you peace of mind.
- Avoid using cruise control in bad winter weather. Cruise control works best on flat, dry roads. Using cruise control on wet, slippery, bumpy, and/or uneven pavement (or other surfaces) is an accident waiting to happen.
- Clear all your windows and lights; especially at the base of the windshield – this is where your heating system takes in air, and where your wipers rest. Make sure your wipers aren’t frozen before you turn them on. Visibility is reduced in winter. Make sure that you can see, and be seen, while you’re on the roads.
- Always watch where you’re going. This may seem like simple advice, but distractions lead to accidents. Be aware; always ‘sweep’ your mirrors with your eyes. Remember that your vehicle travels forward 27 metres per second at 100km/h. Being aware of what’s around you before you turn or change lanes can help you avoid an object in front of you.
- Keep your distance. Keep back and give yourself a room. Having time to react is the key to preventing a crash. Other drivers might not be paying attention like you are, or can’t see you.
Is Your Car Prepared?
- Prepare an emergency kit. This kit should stay in your car and have useful items and tools. This could include things for your car such as jumper cables, tools, small replacement parts such as bulbs and fuses. Additionally, include items that could help if you are stuck in the cold and dark such as a flashlight, blankets, extra winter clothing, snacks, and a battery charger for your phone, etc.
- Properly inflated tires. If your tires aren’t in good condition and inflated correctly, you will have reduced performance on snowy roads. Tires can lose as much as 2psi for every 10deg drop in temperature. You will find your tires’ recommended pressure in the driver’s door jamb or your car’s owner’s manual.
- Schedule an appointment. Most importantly, you’ll want to make sure your car is working well and your Volkswagen-recommended maintenance schedule is up-to-date. If there are any hidden concerns or issues, major or minor, you want it found and fixed now. Being stranded in the cold can leave you with the ‘winter blahs’ instead of embracing winter in Canada.