Howie, Sacks & Henry LLP – Personal Injury Law – Michael J. HenryWhether we like it or not, as Canadians we need to deal with the coming winter season and the cold, snow and ice that comes along with it. The change in weather also brings changing driving conditions and your vehicle will handle differently in these conditions. Your ability to drive safely will be greatly improved by having your vehicle prepared for winter road conditions and observing various driving tips. Now is the time to think about this.

iStock_000002863773_MediumBe sure to prepare your vehicle before the snow begins to fall. It is recommended that a proper service technician do a seasonal maintenance check-up. Book it now before the service centres are fully booked. Weak batteries should be replaced. Brakes should be adjusted to maintain even braking. Hoses and exhaust should be checked for leaks and to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure your vehicle has antifreeze rated for the coldest weather you will encounter in your area. Check that defrosters are working properly.  Be sure to replace your windshield wiper fluid with winter fluid. It is also a good idea to install winter rated windshield wipers.

Winter tires are essential in the winter season. While all season tires are designed for all types of weather, they do not perform as well as snow tires in snow, ice and cold. As the temperature falls tires will be affected. Non-winter tires lose elasticity. Winter tires are designed for the lower temperatures. Do not mix tires. Be sure that all four winter tires have the correct pattern and are the suitable size for your vehicle. Worn tires have less traction. Tire pressure must be monitored. Lowering tire pressure to increase traction does not work.

When you do hit the road, observe these safety tips:

  • Do not drive when fatigued or tired.
  • Check weather conditions before you head out. Ensure that you are dressed properly in the event your vehicle does break down.
  • When planning your arrival time, take into consideration slower traffic due to adverse weather condition. Leave early. Do not rush.
  • In reduced visibility, drive slower and with greater caution.
  • Don’t leave your cell phone or other electronic devices in your car. Leaving electronic devices in the car will cause the battery to decline faster and it may even freeze.
  • Always clear all windows of ice before departing. Do not drive with icy windows. Clear snow from entire car so that it does not fly off while driving creating a hazard for other drivers.
  • It is a good idea to have a safety kit in your car. Some other things you should have are: sand, a snow brush and ice scraper, booster cables, warning lights (flares), extra windshield wiper fluid, a flash light, a blanket, extra hats and gloves. A few snacks are always handy.

Stay alert at all times. Black ice is potentially everywhere. It is a good idea to take a refresher course on safe winter driving practices and techniques. Getting proper snow tires may save you money as many insurers offer a discount on your insurance premium. A properly maintained vehicle will avoid break downs. Most of all, slow down and be extra cautious.

Michael Henry is one of the founding partners of Howie, Sacks & Henry.  He can be reached at 416-361-0998 or

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