Winter (real winter – ignore the solstice) is just about here! Safely navigating through an Alberta winter requires some preparation and a bit of mental adjustment, especially if you’re new to this part of the world and use to warmer weather throughout the year. It’s about more than gloves, hats and ice-scrapers!
What’s your car riding on? Probably the most important thing to consider in equipping your vehicle for the winter is your tires. I can’t recommend winter tires highly enough. In addition to superior traction on snow and ice they simply do a better job of coping with colder temperatures than all seasons. Even on dry roads you can expect shorter braking and better grip around corners. Having your winter tires mounted on a second set of wheels makes for a quick and easy switch between seasons. Whichever tires you are using don’t forget to check the tread depth. If the tread depth is approaching 5/32” Transport Canada recommends avoiding snow-covered roads.
Colder temperatures place a special burden on your vehicle’s fluids, electrical systems and hardware so it’s important that these are all in good shape. If you’ve been following your Honda’s Maintenance Minder and your service advisors additional recommendations chances are that your car is in good operating order. For additional peace of mind, T&T Honda is currently offering a winter car care special that includes a wide ranging inspection of key components.
There are some things that you need to keep on top of between service visits. Don’t forget to keep your gasoline tank relatively full to help avoid a frozen gas line and your odds of being stranded. Are your windshield wipers in good condition? You’ll need to check those from time to time. Windshield washer fluid is easy to run out of and easy to forget about. Keep an extra jug in your trunk. Your trunk should also be home to an emergency kit, good to have anytime of the year but particularly during bad weather. Pre-packed kits are available in many stores but I’ve included a list of items, at the end of this article, for you to consider should you decide to prepare your own.
So, your car is properly equipped and in good working order, your cell phone is charged and you’re sensibly dressed in case you do get stranded. Time to hit the road? It might be an idea to check conditions first, especially if you’re travelling a route that you’re not familiar with. Alberta Transportation provides an excellent near real-time online resource to help you avoid or prepare for dangerous roads and intersections here in Calgary and throughout the province: https://511.alberta.ca
Before you put the car in gear and get on your way make sure that you can see and be seen. Take time to clear your windows and lights of snow and frost. Turn your lights on as warranted so that you can been seen coming AND going.
When it comes to winter driving itself keep the S’s in mind: smooth, slow, space, and sight. Smooth inputs when braking and/or turning will help you avoid loss of control in slippery conditions. Slow down and leave lots of space between you and vehicles in front of you. Sight: look far ahead to anticipate what you’ll be encountering. (Your peripheral vision will capture much more of what lies directly in front of you than you would expect.)
If you have any questions about equipping yourself and your vehicle for winter please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
Here is a list of items that may be useful in emergencies:
- Blankets and extra clothing
- Water and food (e.g. energy protein bars)
- Ice scraper and small foldable shovel
- Jumper cables
- A properly inflated spare and/or puncture repair kit
- Traction material
- First aid kit
- Extra windshield washer fluid
- Flares or emergency reflective devices