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There’s no doubt Canada’s harsh winters show no mercy when it comes to our vehicles. From nasty salt stains to a frozen engine, the winter elements are notorious for doing some serious damage. But luckily, keeping your car in good condition throughout the colder months can be quite simple.

Here are some practical maintenance tips that can be easily incorporated into your car care routine, to keep your vehicle safe from snow and ice.

Take precautions when parking

A dead car battery, drops in tire pressure and windshield chips are just some of the reasons not to park outdoors this winter. But unless you’re lucky enough to have a garage, your vehicle may have to brave the nasty weather for some time.

One of the most serious mechanical failures when temperatures drop is a frozen engine. You’ll know your engine has iced over when you hear a relentless squealing under the hood. If you’re parking outside overnight, consider the following:

  • Invest in a block heater or electric engine blanket. These plug-in devices are draped over the engine to keep it warm. Similar products are available for car batteries, too.
  • Car covers are another great investment. They protect your vehicle from snow and ice when not on the road.

Short-term parking, like outside the mall, can also cause problems in winter. Raise your wiper blades so they don’t freeze to the windshield. This will give you easier access to remove snow and ice after a storm.

Wash and wax regularly

Road salt is certainly helpful in keeping the streets cleared. But because salt is so corrosive, it can also damage your car’s paint job. If your vehicle already has some chipped paint or rusted areas, salt can make things worse. Here’s how you can avoid this:

  • Wax the car thoroughly before the cold weather sets in. For best results, use a high-quality wax product and foam applicator. Pay special attention to areas behind the wheels and front grille where salt tends to accumulate.
  • Wash your car regularly throughout the winter season; at least once every two weeks is ideal.

Clean your vehicle when temperatures are moderate, so water doesn’t freeze over your power windows. If you want to wash on a colder day, warm it up first; drive your car around the block and turn up the heaters beforehand.

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Keep an eye on tire pressure

Although wintry weather can certainly wreck your vehicle,  there are some safety risks to consider, too. Defective tires can lead to accidents, putting you and your family in serious danger. According to the Canada Safety Council, under-inflation is the leading cause of tire failure.

That’s why maintaining proper tire pressure is crucial for winter safety. Because cold air contracts, inflation levels drop dramatically, especially early on in the season. Here’s an easy way to check if your tires are inflated as they should be:

  1. Begin with cold tires
  2. Check car manufacturer’s recommended PSI (pounds per square inch)
  3. Measure tire pressure with a gauge, which can be bought at most automotive stores
  4. Fill to recommended PSI
  5. Repeat once a month

Because the roads are so slippery in winter, good traction is key. Keep an eye on your tire treads, and look for cracks in the rubber. A depth any lower than 6 mm is considered too worn. Consumer Reports says tires with half their treads can take up to 6 feet longer to come to a stop on wet roads.

Try these cold weather car hacks

Although there are tons of products out there for winter car care, there are many things you can do in lieu of buying more accessories, to protect your vehicle. Here are a couple of our favourite cold weather hacks:

  • After raising your windshield wipers to prevent ice build-up, take it one step further by putting old socks on each blade. When you’re done with them, you can throw them in the glove compartment until you need them again.
  • Clean your windshield with a thin layer of shaving cream, which has the same active ingredient as defoggers. Now your windows won’t fog up while driving!

By taking a few simple precautions, you can ensure a stress-free driving experience this winter. Protect yourself and your loved ones by giving your vehicle the care it deserves!

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