Getting ready for winter driving
This year, as many of us well know, winter came a bit early with two major snowstorms in November. I don’t remember another year where we had two feet of snow on November 14th, but the message was loud and clear: it was time to get the winter tires on!
For those of us living in Quebec, we have no choice but to prepare our vehicles for the winter season as winter tires are mandatory by December 15th. I’ll always remember my trip to Montreal last December. It was December 5th and I was heading to the city for a TV segment, and we were having our first major snowstorm. When I got to Boulevard Henri-Bourassa, a main thoroughfare, it was clear to me many drivers didn’t switch to winter tires yet as lots of vehicles were spinning their wheels, some were even sliding backwards down the hill. I panicked. I had my winter tires on but I was worried another car would hit mine. Let’s just say I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I reached the hotel. This reminded me of the importance of making sure the car is ready for winter. So, so important.
Most Canadians will experience winter driving and snowy conditions. As our climate continues to change, we all need to be prepared, especially if we’re on the roads a lot and getting my car winter-ready started with the tires. A common misconception is that winter tires are only needed once snow begins to fall, but in fact, they’re essential when the temperature consistently falls below 0⁰ Celsius or freezing. For instance, winter tires are made with a specific tread compound that allows you to get better grip and traction when driving in colder temperatures.
Here are some tips to get you into winter mode:
Having the right tires is key. Investing in quality tires is a must, especially if you drive a lot, or live in an environment that frequently experiences freezing temperatures, like in the countryside or in a city like mine. Did you know that winter tires should have the "Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake" symbol? This symbol lets you know that the tire is a true winter tire, and that it has passed a specific snow traction performance test set by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada.
A good snow brush is also a must, as it can save you time after a snowfall and keep your visibility clear. Make sure to have extra windshield washer fluid in the car as well.
Prepare a small survival kit with a blanket, flashlight and snacks in case you have car trouble.
Take a winter driving course. Did you know that classes are available specifically to hone your winter driving skills? This is on my list of classes I would like to take. You can take a course given by experts who will teach you how to maneuver your vehicle on ice and in the snow. I think this is a great idea for everyone, but especially so for young adults learning to drive – particularly in provinces that get hit with lots of snow and colder weather.
Finally, how do you know if your winter tires are still in good shape? Michelin driving expert Carl Nadeau shares a simple test we can all do at home: the ”Quarter Test”. Put a quarter head-first into your tire’s tread. The top part of the figurehead on the coin should be partially covered by the tread. If you can see the whole head, it's time to replace the tire. Easy peasy!
Whether you’re taking the kids to hockey practice or driving to see family for the holidays, we can never be too careful on the roads – especially during the winter.
Article written by Jaime Damak
Disclaimer: This article is sponsored by Michelin Canada. As usual, the opinions expressed are 100 % mine.