Winter driving conditions in Saskatchewan can be volatile and patently dangerous. Frankly, being cautious and mentally prepared are not enough to keep you safe. You need to take the same precautions in preparing your vehicle for winter conditions. So, here are a few simple ways you can winterize your vehicle.
Winterize with Winter Tires
Arguably the best way to prepare your vehicle for winter is to buy a good set of winter tires. Winter tires deliver roughly 50% better grip than three-season (all-season) tires. That means you get shorter stopping distances, better acceleration, and a significantly smaller chance of going into a dangerous slide. Winter tires are built with softer, more flexible rubber because the cold temperatures cause the rubber to contract. Despite the cold, winter tires will keep and deeper tread powder to cut through snow.
Conversely, hot temperatures cause rubber to expand, increasing the surface area in contact with the road. That’s why all-season tires are built with naturally stiff rubber. But, in the winter, cold temperatures make all-season tires even stiffer. It’s kind of like driving on four hockey pucks. Obviously that’s not good for grip. So, if you want to winterize your vehicle, get a good set of winter tires.
Before the worst of winter hits, you’ll want to make sure your vehicle is in fighting shape. That means ensuring your battery, brake lights, fuses, hoses et c… are all in good working order. Invest a little money in preventative maintenance to avoid costly repairs down the road. Unless you’re an amateur mechanic, consider adding a comprehensive inspection to your next oil change. At the very least make sure your brakes are working well, and that you have enough antifreeze, oil, and washer fluid.
Of course, this type of regular maintenance is important at all times of the year. However, if your vehicle breaks down in the middle of winter, you could find yourself in a life-threatening situation. Additionally, in the event that you require repairs, it’s much easier to be without your vehicle for a few days when it’s not -20 Co.
During a Saskatchewan winter, it’s vital that you equip your vehicle with some basic safety equipment. You probably don’t need a bowie knife, flare gun, or military rations. A few things you should already have around the house should do the trick. Keep some extreme cold clothing (ski pants, gloves, toque, boots, et c…) in the vehicle with you. If your vehicle breaks down, you’ll need to stay warm without your heater. You’ll also need a shovel. If you get stuck in snow, it’s important to be able to dig yourself out. Other things you should pack include:
- Flashlight (a real one – not your cellphone flash)
- Jumper cables
- Simple tool kit
- Road flares
- Sand or salt
How do you winterize your vehicle for winter? Share your tips in the comments below!