Preparing your vehicle for our Canadian winter

By Myrna Burgoyne

A little forethought goes a long way

 Here it comes again … cooler temperatures and shorter days. Even if we are not ready, our cars cry out for pre-winter preparation over the next few months.


Budgeting for maintenance

This year, rising costs during this unpredictable economy could make it particularly difficult for many people to find space in the budget for new tires, oil changes, fluid top-ups, and even regular maintenance checks. It’s an obvious point that keeping up with maintenance and sparing a bit of the budget for winter preparation could save you much more in the long run. If possible, set aside a set amount each month so that when the time comes, you’ll be ahead of the game. If that’s not an option, prioritize your needs and have them done as you can. Checking for deals and sales is always helpful too.



Is this the year that you will need to get new tires?  Scan the flyers and online sites to find a good sale on decent winter tires. Many suppliers have Buy 3, Get 1 Free deals. Keep in mind that you will always need to buy tires in pairs or fours for the safety of your vehicle. In this part of the country, it is not mandatory but highly recommended that you install winter tires and not all seasons or all-weathers. You will notice a big difference in your driving experience and the handling of your car on snow and ice, and the peace of mind for your own and your family’s safety cannot be overstated.

Make it a habit to check your tire pressure every so often, as changing temperatures expand and contract the air and could become a problem if it is left too long. Correct tire pressures for your specific vehicle are usually listed on the inside panel of the driver’s door for your quick reference. Put a quick reminder in your smartphone to do this every couple of weeks at a minimum.



It is a good idea to either check your fluid levels regularly – oil, coolant, brake fluid and windshield washer fluids all need to be topped up from time to time, but while you’re doing your winter prep, or having it done for you, is a good chance to get it all looked after at once. It could cost you less in labour if you do it all in one visit. Of course, there are some things you can do yourself, like topping up the washer fluids. Just follow the directions in your owner’s manual for best results.


Emergency kit

Check the supplies in your emergency kit to be sure you are well supplied for most eventualities – jumper cables, a working flashlight, ice scraper and snow brush, small hand shovel, blanket, hot packs, LED road-side warning markers, and of course a first aid kit. Maybe stick a few protein bars in the glove box in case you get stuck by the side of the road.


Snow and ice

Once winter fully descends upon us and the snow, ice, and salt are in equal measure on the roads, you may notice a buildup of hard-packed snow in your wheel wells. Remove that so the salt doesn’t cling to your vehicle for extended periods of time. Often, a gentle kick with your boot heel will take it right out.

If it’s really stuck, park in your garage and let it melt overnight. Or, when you go shopping, park your car in a parkade or underground so that it softens or melts while you shop. Problem solved!


Check your maintenance schedule

If your vehicle is due for an annual check and you also need new tires, an oil change, and fluid top-ups, call a few weeks in advance to book your appointment to have it all done at once. Race Auto Group specializes in pre-winter service, including tire sales and installation. Their three locations offer one-stop service and guaranteed, professional work. Contact Race Auto Group for your service work – find them on Barrington Street in Halifax, Sackville Drive in Lower Sackville, and on Esplanade Street in Truro. Check their website for a full list of services offered, or call 902-830-7223 for Halifax and Sackville, 902-843-3004 for Truro, or 1-888-836-7223 from anywhere in Nova Scotia.


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