As the chill of winter draws near, it is essential to ensure proper winter car care. Only then can it face the frosty challenges that lie ahead. The icy conditions demand extra attention to keep your vehicle running smoothly.
According to a study by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, about 30% of car accidents in Canada occur on snowy or icy roads. Therefore, discovering ways to keep your vehicle running smoothly during winter is essential. In this guide, we’ll delve into important winter car care tips. They are tailored to the unique needs of Burnaby’s intense driving conditions.
Essential Winter Car Maintenance Tips
Frequent Oil Changes and The Choosing the Right Oil Type
Regular oil changes are essential for maintaining the health of your car’s engine. As temperatures drop, engine oil thickens. This makes it difficult to circulate and protect your engine optimally. Using a lighter engine oil for cold temperatures can enhance engine performance. It can also reduce wear and tear. The viscosity of your oil when cold is represented by the “W” or winter rating found in the first set of numbers signifying oil viscosity. For example, a 0W-30 will be better suited for Canadian winter cold starts than a 5W-30.
Using the wrong oil grade will also decrease fuel efficiency. It’s important to note that engine oil thickens by about 40% at 0 °C compared to 20 °C and using the wrong oil grade can void your car’s warranty. Synthetic oil is better than conventional oil in protecting your engine in cold weather, so consider the best available oil and type approved for your car and situation.
How to choose the right engine oil?
Choosing the “right oil,” while seemingly simple, is one of the most critical decisions for maintaining the health of your car. For this reason, always consult an expert well-versed in motor oils to ensure the oil you use is approved for your engine manufacturer’s specifications. Most brands will also list the appropriate oil types for your vehicle specification.
At Haus of Cars, we carry “Liqui Moly” branded oil exclusively for all the vehicles we service. Information on the correct oil types for your vehicle can be found in their Liqui Moly Oil Guide
Regular Engine Maintenance and Repairs
It’s all about preventative maintenance. This is true all year round but especially the temperatures begin to dip. Cold weather can worsen existing issues in a car’s engine. It can lead to unusual noises, decreased performance, and potential engine damage. Addressing any problems promptly is crucial to prevent further engine degradation.
The average lifespan of an engine typically ranges from 250,000 to 500,000 kilometres. However, this can vary based on the make and model of the vehicle, specific driving conditions, and quality of maintenance.
Regular maintenance practices play a pivotal role in prolonging one’s engine life. This includes adhering to recommended oil change intervals well within manufacturer guidelines, monitoring optimal fluid conditions and capacity throughout the car’s working components, maintaining proper coolant levels, and replacing worn-out components before they become due.
Equip Your Car With Winter Rated Tires
Your tires are the only point of contact between your car and the road, so proper tire maintenance is essential for safety and performance, especially during winter. Firstly, check your tire pressure regularly as part of routine winter car care. Keep in mind that low temperatures will cause tire pressure to drop, so depending on how cold it can get, air up your tires accordingly. You should also make sure your tires have adequate tread depth. The minimum tread depth is 2 mm, but we recommend having at least 3 mm of tread all year round and even more when it comes to winter driving, where snow is a factor.
Winter tires are also a good investment. They are designed to perform better in winter due to their flexibility and the softness of the rubber compound. They stay flexible in cold temperatures, allowing for better grip when temperatures drop. Experts recommend winter tires, which are even mandatory in some countries, as is the case locally in British Columbia.
- Winter tires significantly enhance traction and reduce stopping distance in their given conditions. All-season tires lose elasticity when temperatures dip below 7°C, negatively impacting their performance, says the Canadian Automobile Association.
- Surprisingly, snow and ice are more slippery at 0°C compared to -20 °C or below, according to Transport Canada. This is due to higher water content on the surface of the ice.
So, don’t get caught in the long line-ups at your local garage when the snow hits. Plan ahead by calling your service center in early fall to inquire about the optimal time to switch to winter tires. Remember 7°C is the magic number!
Pro tip: once you have made the switch, store your summer tires in opaque plastic bags in a place with a consistent and cool temperature.
Read More On Buying Used Tires vs. New Tires
Brake and Suspension Winter Care
Winter conditions amplify the importance of reliable brakes. Icy and wet roads demand responsive braking systems. Regularly inspecting and maintaining your brakes ensures they function optimally. It’s generally recommended to have your brakes inspected at least every oil exchange or twice a year. The frequency can vary depending on your driving habits and the type of driving you do. For instance, city driving and stop-and-go traffic tend to wear out brake pads more quickly than highway driving.
At the same time, your ride control and suspension components play a significant role in safely driving. Make sure to have your local shop check to ensure there are no signs of leaking or damage to your struts and that your control arms and other suspension components look healthy. We suggest to our clients to have these components looked over semi-annually or before embarking on a long trip, as with the brakes
Check Fluid Levels
The cold weather also affects the performance of various fluids in your vehicle. The coolant, a mixture of antifreeze and water, plays a vital role in regulating the operating temperatures of your vehicle’s engine. In winter, it’s generally recommended to maintain a higher ratio of antifreeze to water in the coolant mixture (if you are choosing to use a concentrate).
Using the wrong type of coolant or antifreeze can lead to issues like poor flow through the radiator and damage to the thermostat. It can also lead to corrosion and damage to the water pump, radiator hoses, cylinder gasket, and more. Thus, it is best to get these parts and fluids checked and replaced by a trusted auto repair shop as part of your winter car care.
A comprehensive pre-purchase inspection is essential for buying a used car, especially in winter. The colder months can reveal hidden issues that might not be visible in other seasons. A professional inspection can help you identify problems that could affect your car’s performance and safety.
The comprehensive pre-purchase vehicle inspection should be a complete look at the car in and out and should take no less than 3 hours to complete and document for an experienced technician. These points should begin with an audit of all body paint conditions and any damages or clear signs of previous damage, such as paint overspray or orange peel from a poor repaint job.
Inspecting all vehicle components
Next, we do a complete overview on the hoist to look for any leaks or damaged components in the undercarriage and review all the suspension and ride control components. From here, we test all the minor and major mechanical components, as well as all fluid levels and conditions. This includes brake, transmission, power steering, differential, coolant, and of course your engine oil. We conclude with, computer diagnostics, and a test drive that must be conducted up to highway speeds. This will determine if there are any subtle balancing or alignment issues not detected at city speed.
While these inspections cost upfront, they could save you thousands of dollars over the long term. This is because they can protect you from purchasing a car with hidden deficiencies. These deficiencies may need thousands of dollars to get fixed. Don’t neglect the need for a comprehensive pre-purchase inspection.
Best Auto Repair Services in Burnaby
As winter descends upon Burnaby, the team at Haus of Cars recognizes the unique challenges this season brings to your vehicles. We stand ready to assist you in ensuring that your car is well-prepared to navigate colder temperatures, snow-covered roads, and icy conditions.
Your journey is our priority, and at Haus of Cars, we are here to keep it smooth, safe, and enjoyable. So what are you waiting for? Contact us for more information or schedule your next visit to Haus of Cars.