7 winter maintenance tips to keep your car running all winter long

·6 min read

Winter is just around the corner, and with it, winter weather. From helpful winter driving tips to how to create a snow removal game plan for those inevitable winter storms, Canadian Tire is here to make sure you’re ready to Bring On Winter, and everything that comes with it.

Woman uses snow brush from Canadian Tire to clear snow off car windshield
Photo via Canadian Tire

Canadian winters have plenty to offer — enchanting snowfalls, frozen canals, winter sports and frozen maple syrup are among its best offerings. Unfortunately, carefree driving is not one of them.

Messy winter weather, and everything that comes with it, can be tough on cars, which means it’s extra important to ensure your vehicle is in top shape before hitting the road this winter. There are all kinds of pitfalls that come with operating a vehicle in icy, snowy conditions and below-zero temperatures, but if you come prepared, you can keep your ride running smoothly, and safely, all season long.

But don’t wait until the first snowfall hits: follow these winter maintenance tips and start preparing your vehicle for winter now in order to keep you and your loved ones safe on the road this season.

1. Check your tires

Man having problem with his vehicle in the snowy weather, checking his winter tires
Photo via Getty Images

If you live in an area that receives heavy snowfall and subzero temperatures, it’s important to have quality winter tires before even considering going out for a drive in the snow. Think those all-seasons are good enough? Think again. While all-season tires are designed to withstand light snowfalls, they’re only reliable for climates with milder winters, as they become less effective when temperatures dip below 7 degrees Celsius, meaning it’ll take longer to stop, especially on black ice. If you’re in the market for a new set of winter tires, consult with an auto shop expert at your local Canadian Tire — the earlier, the better to avoid the rush!

Already have winter tires? You should still have a professional check your tire pressure and tread depth to make sure your set is in good shape. (You can also check them yourself using the MotoMaster Digital Tire Gauge.) You’ll be thankful you were proactive when that next blast of winter weather unexpectedly creeps up.

2. Top up your fluids

Woman topping up car using winter washer fluid from Canadian Tire
Photo via Canadian Tire

Winter driving conditions can be unpredictable, but you can stay one step ahead by ensuring your fluids are topped up before making any long trips.

Start with your windshield washer fluid, and it doesn’t hurt to keep an extra container in your trunk just in case. You might also consider switching to a winter-specific washer fluid. The Reflex Ice Defence Winter Windshield Washer Fluid is specially formulated to provide better de-icing capabilities and works at a lower temperature — and when it comes to winter driving, good visibility is paramount.

If you’re due for an oil change, getting it done prior to the cold weather can help prevent damage to your engine, making it another wise winter maintenance move.

3. Prep an emergency kit

Winter car emergency kit from Canadian Tire, kept in trunk, first air kid, portable jump starter and car battery
Photo via Canadian Tire

An emergency roadside kit should be at the top of any winter automotive shopping list, especially if you’re planning on driving somewhere rural or with limited services. A good kit should contain everything needed to keep you warm and safe while you wait for assistance in the event of an emergency.

Some key items to include are booster cables, an ice scraper, snow brush, road flares, a tool kit and of course, warm blankets. The Karcher EDI 4 Ice Scraper is a great addition to any kit, as it doesn’t require much physical strength to operate. Instead, the battery-operated scraper uses rotating discs to remove ice and debris. If you prefer a two-in-one brush and ice scraper, this Reflex Glacier Snow Brush is a good option thanks to its large bristles and ergonomic grip for maximum snow removal ability.

For everything else, the Premium Auto Safety Kit has you covered, and comes with a first-aid kit, tow straps and even an emergency poncho. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but if the time comes when you do, trust us, you’ll be glad to have it.

4. Check your wipers

man adjusting and cleaning windshield wipers of car in snowy weather
Photo via Getty Images

There’s nothing worse than not being able to see clearly when you’re driving in precarious conditions. To help mitigate that risk, ensure your windshield wipers are in good working order. Depending on your vehicle, and where you live, winter-specific wipers can also be a worthy investment. The Reflex Ice Defence Wiper Blade is optimized to perform well in harsh icy conditions and comes in a variety of sizes, from 13” all the way up to 28”.

5. Do a battery check

Man jumpstarting car during winter using jumper cables from Canadian Tire
Photo via Canadian Tire

Another common setback when it comes to winter driving is the dreaded dead battery, as the cooler it gets outside, the more your battery will struggle. That’s why it’s important to get your car battery checked, and replaced if needed, before temperatures dip below freezing. Coming out to a surprise dead battery is no one’s idea of winter fun.

Looking for a battery that’s built for Canadian winters? The MotoMaster Eliminator is an ideal choice for those in extremely cold climates, delivering reliable starting no matter the temperature.

That said, even if you think you’re prepared, winter can always find a way to up-end your day. That’s why it’s wise to keep booster cables (like this heavy-duty set) and a portable jump starter in your trunk in case of any unfortunate surprises. The MotoMaster Eliminator 1400A Booster Pack is a multi-purpose device capable of boosting your car battery, inflating your tires and charging your phone, making it an invaluable winter accessory. The NOCO Genius GB70 BoostHD Jump Starter and Power Bank is another great option, with a compact lightweight design that won’t take up much space.

6. Get waxing

a young woman, a driver, waxing and wiping a car with a microfiber cloth after washing, washing a car. Self-service transport, care concept. Car wash.
Photo via Getty Images

Waxing your car might be the last thing on your mind when it comes to winter car maintenance, but hear us out. Applying wax with a graphene or ceramic coating results in a hydrophobic effect, meaning it’s harder for ice and snow to build up on the surface of your car. Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Pro Graphene Flex Wax is easy to apply and will leave your car shining like brand new while simultaneously protecting it from the elements. Just make sure to apply it before the nasty weather hits.

7. Check your brake health

Snowy tire and snow covered brakes during winter
Photo via Canadian Tire

Cold weather can, and will, affect your brakes — and worn out brakes are especially dangerous in the winter, when stopping power is at a premium.

If your brake pads are on their last legs, you should get them replaced before winter sets in. The auto care specialists at your local Canadian Tire Auto Service Centre will be able to examine your brake pads and rotors and advise if anything needs to be replaced.

You can also get a sense of your brake health by listening carefully as you drive, as ailing brake pads will cause your car to squeal and growl when you brake. That said, if you park your car outside, you may find a thin layer of rust builds up on your brakes after a heavy snowfall — this is perfectly normal, and will disappear after a few minutes of driving. If the noise doesn’t go away, however, it’s time to take your car in for a check-up.

Winter isn’t always easy, but Canadians know how to make the best of it, and Canadian Tire is here to help. Whether you’re looking for tips on dealing with messy winter weather or fun outdoor activities to keep kids active, Canadian Tire has everything you need to Bring On Winter this year, so you can embrace all the fun and excitement the season has to offer.

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