Safe winter driving is a smart way to handle the cold, and will help keep your car insurance premiums low. As an independent auto insurance brokerage, at Bow Valley Insurance we save our clients money all four seasons of the year.
Winter Safeguards for Driving
Most drivers in Calgary are well aware there are several winter precautions that must be taken with their vehicle.
Winter is by far the worst season for you to experience a mechanical failure in be stranded on a cold day. Keeping your vehicle well maintained will avoid you being stranded.
Following are a few tips to keep your vehicle running smoothly during the winter months.
Extreme cold is hard on batteries, and especially so on older ones.
If your battery is old, get it checked. Many places will assess your battery for free. Your battery posts should be clean of corrosion. The cables should show no cracking or entanglement. The pulley belt on the alternator should be clean and showing no cracks or fraying. You shouldn’t hear any belt squeals when the engine starts.
Inspecting the fill level and condition of your antifreeze is easy. Somewhere near the top of the engine in most modern cars and trucks is an opaque plastic reservoir tank with graduated “full” and “add” markings molded in. The fluid should be a shade of vibrant green. If you need to add fluid, remember to closely follow the directions on the antifreeze product you select.
Also inspect your radiator for leaks by placing a weighted paper towel beneath it overnight, checking for any coloured droplets. Ensure that the radiator cap is on securely and any pressure relief system is intact.
As everyone knows, night falls early and the dawn comes late in the winter. It is imperative whether you know whether all of your vehicle’s lights work and are bright enough to be safe. Turn your headlights on and ensure that they are clear, shine equally well, and are aimed correctly. A useful trick is to park at night a place where there is a glass fronted building and shine both your low and high beams at it. Like a mirror, you will not only see how intense your headlamps are, but also how they shine at other drivers on the road.
Properly functioning brakes are critical to your winter driving margin for error. If you are hearing or feeling any unusual braking actions, or experience premature grabbing or unusually high or low pedal effort, have your brakes professionally checked as soon as possible.
Predictable braking effort and system response are also essential to properly functioning traction control systems, certain all wheel drive set-ups, and to the vehicle stability control mode required on later model vehicles sold here in Canada.
The “air” in your tires is a mix of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and trace gases. It also contains moisture. When the temperatures dip, these constituents of air reveal their different molecular sizes. The lighter ones tend to seep out at the rim, bit by bit, as your rolling tires heat up and expand, and then cool and contract when parked.
Pure nitrogen fills, available at some tire shops, keep your tires more stably inflated in winter. The larger nitrogen molecules have more difficulty escaping the tire.
Always check your tire pressure before a cold weather highway trip. Under-inflated tires, especially on heavier vehicles, are a blowout accident waiting to happen.
New wiper blades and wiper fluid good against freezing down to -40C are an inexpensive safety measure.
Carry a Survival Kit
Advice for bundling these essentials abound on the Internet, and all such kits are far better than nothing if you get stranded. Make sure you have at least some flares, a flashlight, some form of blanket/ground cover, something with which to dig, an old jacket, some gloves, water, and some energy bars to give you or young ones some calories.
Don’t Leave Your Safety to Chance
At Bow Valley Insurance, we want to continue to serve not only all of our current policyholders, but prospective ones as well. Contact us for a free automobile insurance quote and drive safe this holiday season.