10 winter driving dos and don’ts

·6-min read

Winter is just around the corner, and with it, winter weather. From helpful winter driving tips to how to create a snow removal game plan for those inevitable winter storms, Canadian Tire is here to make sure you’re ready to Bring On Winter, and everything that comes with it.

Man driving in winter, winter driving tips
Photo via Canadian Tire

Winter comes with many reasons to celebrate: the holiday season and with it, tons of family time, plenty of gift-giving excitement and, of course, winter sports. But while you’re gearing up for the season, don’t forget to brush up on your winter driving safety skills as well.

From investing in a set of winter tires to equipping your car with an emergency kit, there are a number of dos and don’ts to consider before hitting the open, snowy road—including some you might not have thought of.

Do: Spring for a set of winter tires

Winter tires in snow
Photo via Canadian Tire

New season, new tires. Make sure to invest in a reliable set of winter tires for your car (and make an appointment to have them changed by a professional), even if you think you won’t get tons of snow. 

Even better, if you live somewhere that regularly sees heavy snowfall, it's worth keeping a traction aid on hand in the trunk in case you get stuck in deep snow.

Don’t: Assume all-season tires are good enough

Man using trunk shovel to help car stuck in snow
Photo via Canadian Tire

Changing your tires in the winter isn’t just to account for snow, but cold temperatures as well. Even if your area doesn’t see huge snowfalls, winter tires are essential for navigating Canadian winters, as all-season tires are only designed for light snow and aren’t thick or rugged enough to provide the traction needed in colder, harsher winter climates. Consult with the auto experts at your local Canadian Tire if you need a winter tire recommendation.

Do: Equip your car with an ice scraper and snow brush

Woman clearing snow off her windshield using snow scraper and snow brush from Canadian Tire
Photo via Canadian Tire

Always be sure your car is equipped with an ice scraper and snow pusher whenever you leave the house this winter—yes, even if you’re just running out for a quick errand. Put it this way: if you get stuck in snow or freezing rain, you’ll need these tools on-hand to keep you safe while getting home. Poor visibility and winter weather are never a good combination.

Don’t: Let your car idle too long while warming it up

Two female friends warming their hands on car heater after taking a walk on cold winter day
Photo via Getty Images

We all know that driving to work in a freezing cold car first thing in the morning isn’t fun, and a remote starter can help you get a head start on those truly frigid mornings when you want to spend as little time as possible in the cold.

That said, letting your car idle for too long in cold weather isn’t a good idea. In fact, studies have shown that idling for 10 minutes or more during cold weather actually decreases your fuel efficiency. For most modern cars, a mere 30 seconds of warm up should be all you need, although using quality synthetic motor oil certainly helps come wintertime; Mobil 1 5W30 Synthetic Engine Oil is specially formulated for quick cold weather starting.

Do: Test your battery before a long-haul drive

Woman connecting booster cables to car during winter
Photo via Canadian Tire

Regularly testing your car’s battery is more important than ever in winter. You really don’t want to get stuck somewhere in the cold with a car that won’t start, and that goes double before heading out on a winter road trip. Save yourself the stress and potential headaches by getting your battery tested by a Canadian Tire expert, or pick up a battery load tester to do it yourself. Then replace with a new battery if needed—you’ll need to do that every three years, so if you can’t remember the last time you purchased a replacement battery, you might be due for one.

Don’t: Forget to check your tire pressure more frequently in the winter

Car air pump and empty automobile wheel close up background.
Photo via Getty Images

Tires deflate quicker in the cold weather, meaning you need to keep a closer eye on them during the winter season. Keep a tire pressure gauge and inflator handy so you can check your tires on the fly, and consider investing in a versatile tool like the NOCO Genius GB70 BoostHD Jump Starter and Power Bank, which can jump-start your car and power your air inflator, too, thanks to the included 12V DC attachment.

Don’t: Assume your all-year wiper fluid is sufficient

Driver's personal perspective car point of view looking above steering wheel and dashboard through car windshield at an approaching vehicle with bright headlights. The vehicle is broken down on the icy road and stands across the road on the opposite lane.
Photo via Getty Images

If you plan on driving through a wintery mix of sleet and slush with any regularity, your all-year windshield washer fluid just won’t cut it. Rain-X ClearView De-Icer Windshield Washer Fluid helps reduce ice and snow buildup and is specially formulated for temperatures as low as minus 40 Celsius.

Do: Invest in de-icing wiper fluid

Ice scraper from Canadian Tire being used on icy car windshield
Photo via Canadian Tire

Visibility is paramount when it comes to driving during the winter, so this is a point that deserves repeating: winter-approved windshield wiper washer fluid is a necessity for Canadian winters. Not only will you find yourself using more of the stuff during the winter, washer fluid designed for colder weather won’t refreeze while helping repel water from your windshield, making it invaluable for those icy winter storms that come out of nowhere. It’s worth keeping a jug of the stuff in your trunk during winter just in case.

Do: Keep an emergency kit in your car

Winter driving emergency kit from Canadian Tire
Photo via Canadian Tire

Emergencies happen, so make sure you’re prepared for them by keeping a pre-packed winter emergency kit in your trunk. MotoMaster's Premium Auto Safety Kit and Winter Safety Kit come with all the essentials you need, including a flashlight, reflectors, warm fleece blanket and more. Other items to consider: a small snow shovel and sand, first-aid kit and some non-perishable snacks.

We’d also recommend investing in a set of heavy-duty jumper cables and a portable jump starter as well—this NOCO Genius GB40 Boost+ Jump Starter also doubles as a power bank capable of charging your personal devices on the off-chance you get stuck and need to call for assistance.

Do: Stay home if you need to

Little girl looking out snowy window during winter
Photo via Getty Images

No winter outing or errand is ever worth putting you or your family at risk. If the weather outside seems too gnarly, exercise good judgement and simply stay home, throw on a festive film and make yourself a warm cup of hot cocoa. You can always venture back out once the storm has subsided and the roads are clear.

Winter isn’t always easy, but Canadians know how to make the best of it, and Canadian Tire is here to help. Whether you’re looking for tips on dealing with messy winter weather or fun outdoor activities to keep kids active, Canadian Tire has everything you need to Bring On Winter this year, so you can embrace all the fun and excitement the season has to offer.

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