While the current pandemic has forced us to adopt a variety of new habits, others—like prepping our cars for winter—haven’t changed a bit. To face the coming cold with peace of mind and leave nothing to chance, follow our 2020 winter prep guide recommendations.
1 - Simple checks you can do yourself
1.1 - Ensure optimal visibility
Make sure you have wiper blades that are suited to winter weather. These should be replaced every 6–12 months. Due to our extreme temperatures in Canada, wiper blades tend to wear out more quickly, which is why it’s important to inspect them before winter sets in.
With a water-repellent windshield treatment, snow and even frost are much easier to clear off. It will also leave a protective, non-adhesive coating that protects your windshield from dirt.
1.2 - Replace your car lights
People don’t always notice that their headlights aren’t as bright as they once were. Before changing your bulbs, check to see if they’re yellow or hazy. You can restore them to their original brightness in a few easy steps. Check out our in-depth article on restoring headlights and follow our expert advice to get the best results!
If you want brighter, whiter, longer-lasting bulbs with greater reach and wider light dispersal, replace your current bulbs with LEDs. Don’t forget to change both headlights at the same time. You’ll be ready to face even the most fickle weather conditions!
1.3 - Check your car fluid levels
One of the first things to do is make sure your vehicle’s windshield washer fluid is seasonally appropriate. This will make life a lot easier, especially when the temperature drops below zero.
Don’t forget to check your other essential car fluids as well. Learn all about the importance of brake fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, and more in our article. You should also inspect your oil level. While you’re under the hood, ask yourself whether your vehicle is due for maintenance.
1.4 - Check your winter tires
Good tires are essential for grip on snowy or icy roads. You can inspect your winter tires before putting them into storage, but checking them before putting them back on your vehicle is also a good habit. If the tread isn’t deep enough, or if the tires are old or have pronounced wear marks, they may be a safety hazard and should be replaced. To swap your tires without hassle, follow the instructions in our article.
1.5 - Prepare the passenger compartment and body
We all know that winter, especially due to road salt, is hard on both the inside and outside of vehicles. This year, why not invest in a protective treatment to keep your floors in good condition? It will make spring cleaning much easier.
2 - Items you should have in your vehicle
2.1 - Think about the essentials
Take a moment to stash a pair of gloves, a warm hat, and a neck warmer in the glove compartment. We suggest that you replace your usual windshield washer fluid with one that is made for winter and keep a spare jug in the trunk. Above all, don’t forget to leave a scraper and small shovel in your car. Snow sometimes accumulates quickly, and it’s easy to get stuck in a poorly plowed parking lot.
2.2 – Plan ahead for every eventuality
It’s important to have an emergency kit in the event of a breakdown or road accident, but you should also have a winter survival kit. Include warm clothing, one or two blankets, medicine, a pair of boots, a flashlight, and non-perishable snacks such as crackers or candy.
3 - Essential winter maintenance work
3.1 - Change your motor oil
Since sub-zero temperatures are just around the corner, we strongly recommend that you change your vehicle’s motor oil. Before you do, consider the date of your last oil change, your driving habits (e.g., short frequent trips), and the recommendations in your vehicle’s maintenance manual. For the engine to remain in good condition, the oil needs enough time to warm up and properly lubricate the components.
If you haven’t opted for a synthetic motor oil, you still have time to make the switch. These oils can reduce fuel consumption and extend the intervals between oil changes. They also provide instant lubrication at start-up, even in cold weather.
When changing your motor oil, it’s also recommended to replace the filter. Read our article to learn how to change your oil and filter in five easy steps.
3.2 - Inspect your brakes
Making sure your brakes are in good condition is especially important during the harshest season of the year. Since brake pads wear gradually over time, we don’t always notice that braking power has decreased, so it’s important to stay alert. Look for an increase in your braking distance, a noise when you brake, or a strange feeling when you brake. If you notice these warning signs, or if you have any concerns about your brakes, carry out an in-depth inspection by following our instructions. Alternatively, you can have your vehicle inspected by one of our NAPA AUTOPRO shop experts. If you feel like doing the job yourself, here is a simple guide for you to choose the right brake pads.
Annual brake maintenance is essential to prevent seizure and corrosion. This is especially true for hybrid and electric vehicles, as their mechanical brakes are so infrequently used, and during unfavourable road conditions. An annual brake inspection also helps avoid unforeseen expenses. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, follow our instructions on how to replace brake pads.
3.3 - Check the battery and charging system
Before the cold weather sets in, it’s essential to check your vehicle’s electrical system. Of course, your battery is the most important—will it survive another winter? But you also need to think about the alternator and the starter. Starting problems are not only related to a battery that’s reaching the end of its usable life. If you do need to replace your battery, follow our detailed instructions.
The alternator generates the electrical energy required to maintain the battery charge. It ensures that your vehicle’s systems are working properly.
The starter requires more energy than any other electrical component. In winter, a worn-out starter that draws too much energy from the battery can lead to problems.
Follow our inspection instructions to make sure your charging system is winter-ready. You’ll not only reduce the likelihood of a winter breakdown, but also have peace of mind on the road all year long.
4 - Consider winter accessories
If you follow the above recommendations, you’ll be more than ready to face those winter roads! However, you can always invest in additional accessories to make the snowy season even smoother.
4.1 - A block heater
A block heater may seem unnecessary, especially for modern car engines, but it can be a very practical tool. All engines struggle to start in low temperatures. A block heater keeps the engine warm, preventing the oil from cooling and turning to molasses. In a warm engine, parts are lubricated instantly, reducing friction that leads to wear and tear.
4.2 - Jumper cables
4.3 - A jump starter (or battery charger)
Although more expensive than jumper cables, a jump starter is the safest way to troubleshoot a car with a dead battery. In addition, most modern jump starters come with accessory power sockets, USB charging sockets, an air compressor, or a light. Of course, it’s important to remember to recharge it at home after use. Click here to learn more.