Winter car hacks to stay safe


Once the leaves start to fall and the weather gets cooler, it’s time to be wary of road conditions. Whether you’re in the Okanagan, the Lower Mainland or even up north, one thing is for certain: road conditions don’t discriminate. 

We’ve compiled a list of seven winter car hacks to ensure you and your family stay safe on the road this season. 

1. DIY Ice Scrapers
Getting to your car first thing in the morning or at the end of a long workday, your windshield needs a little love. If you don’t have an ice scraper handy, here are a few tricks that work wonders. Regardless of what method you choose, be sure to start your car before doing anything as it will take a little extra time to warm up in the cold. 

1. Use your credit card (or gift cards) to scrape off the ice. Just be careful you don’t bend it too hard or to rub off the magnetic strip.  
2. Leave a plastic spatula in your car as a makeshift de-icer.
3. Do not use water to clear the ice as the change in temperature could crack your windshield. Instead, use a commercial de-icer product or make a 2:1 rubbing alcohol to water solution.

2. Jumper Cables and Phone Chargers
The cold weather depletes batteries — including both those of your phone and car — a lot faster than in the warmer months, so always be prepared with jumper cables, a full phone battery, an adaptor and a charger. Remember to not leave your phone in the car for a long time as the cold weather can freeze your battery. 

3. Winter Tires
When the seasons change, so should your tires. In British Columbia, there are many roads that require winter tires from October 1 to March 31 every year. Proper winter tires can help you handle the roads better (in both rain and snow) and can shorten your braking distance by as much as 25 percent. This can mean a world of difference when you’re driving on icy roads. 

Contrary to popular belief, all-season tires are not the same as winter tires. All-season tires actually start to lose their grip at 7°C and below, even if there isn’t snow. The experts at your local BC Honda dealer can help you pick out the right tires and, with their lowest price guarantee, you’ll only spend what you need to.

4. Road Conditions
Before you go anywhere or make any plans this winter, be sure to check the DriveBC.ca website to see about any known road problems in the province. The home page will highlight road and weather conditions you should be weary of in your area and alert you to accidents and delays. 

5. Emergency Kit
It’s always important to keep an emergency kit in the car. You can purchase a kit at car dealerships and big box stores around the province, or you can make one yourself. Here’s what you need to include in it:

• Blankets and extra clothes, including gloves and socks
• First aid supplies
• Non-perishable food like granola bars as well as water (enough for all the passengers in the car)
• Flares and matches or a lighter
• Spare tire, wheel wrench and jack
• Flashlight and spare batteries
• Windshield scraper and snow brush
• Bottle of winter-grade windshield washer fluid
• Battery jumper cables
• Shovel and traction mat, sand or kitty litter

6. Car Maintenance
Your car needs to be inspected on a regular basis to ensure everything is working properly, especially in the winter months. Make sure you change your windshield blades to winter ones as they’re stronger and able to push snow and ice off your windshield more easily. Check that your winter tires are properly pressurized and the wheels are all aligned. All of this can be done at your local BC Honda dealership to ensure you receive the best service and your car is in tip-top shape for the winter roads. 

7. Full Tank
Despite soaring gas prices in B.C., always make sure you have a full gas tank. This is important for a few different reasons. First, if your tank is full, this will avoid moist air and condensation inside your gas tank that could lead to frozen fuel lines and other mechanical problems. More fuel also means more weight, which can result in better traction.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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