09 January 2015

“Surviving” winter in your vehicle

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Both the snow and the temperature are falling. This week, our thermometers showed a glacial -25°! You’ve probably seen worse. Driving through snow, over ice, and in storms doesn’t scare you. But are you really prepared for anything? If you have difficulty answering the following questions, it’s time to regain control of your winter driving.

Do you check the driving conditions before setting out?

We certainly hope your answer is a resounding YES, especially before a long car ride. For reliable information, consult The Weather Network’s highway conditions map. It provides the current weather conditions and forecasts for the entire road system. The map shows road visibility and the state of the road surface (covered or closed roads). In short, it’s your GO-TO source for weather information this winter.

Do you have an emergency kit in your vehicle?

Thinkinsurance companies are being overly cautious ? If you’re a regular reader of the news, you know that we are neither alarmists nor naturally anxious, just realistic. So we recommend having an emergency kit in your trunk in case you break down or have an accident. At the very least, it should contain a shovel, a snow brush, a scraper, traction mats (or a bag of an abrasive substance), and winter windshield washer fluid. For more information on the equipment you should have in your vehicle, read the latest post on our blog.

Do you have good reflexes?

What do you think is the best way to react when your front wheels skid? This happens frequently, especially when you enter a turn a bit too fast. To stop the skid, remove your foot from the accelerator or brake and gradually turn the wheels in the direction of the curve in the road. Now, if the opposite happens and your vehicle’s rear wheels skid, we recommend turning the front wheels in the same direction as the rear wheels. If you skid again, be prepared to repeat the manoeuver. Be quick and gentle, and never lose sight of the road or the vehicles you’re following.

Do you know all the winter road hazards?

Does black ice mean anything to you? You think the pavement is dry when it is actually covered in ice. Black ice is invisible to the eye and forms when the temperature hovers around 0°C.

What about those “igloos” on wheels? Even though clearing off your car is time consuming and tedious, if you get behind the wheel without removing the snow from the roof, windows, license plate, or other parts of your vehicle, you could be a danger to yourself or other motorists.

Do you know the distance to maintain between your vehicle and the one in front of you?

You should maintain a distance of up to six seconds—enough to anticipate the need to brake—between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

Do you know what parts of your vehicle are affected the most by winter accidents?

That’s right. It’s the bumpers! When the roads are icy, the parts most affected by accidents are the front and rear ends of vehicles. Body shops replace a staggering amount of bumpers these days. They estimate that a bumper costs between $600 and $900 on average, not including the cost of installation. But prices vary from one make to another. Also the cold weakens bumpers because the plastic loses its flexibility and can shatter like glass!

If you didn’t get all the questions right, we hope this little test will give you some ideas of things look into. And since we’re full of good ideas, here are a few more for easily starting your vehicle during the winter.

  • An engine heater can be a big help in starting your vehicle. Besides warming the engine’s components, it saves fuel over the first 20 kilometers and heats the passenger compartment 40% faster than vehicles without one. Rates for engine heater installation range between $50 and $200, depending on the model.
  • Despite the slightly higher cost, synthetic oil, which has a more fluid texture, is your vehicle’s best ally when it starts..
  • Don’t wear yourself out trying to start your vehicle by pressing the accelerator to the floor for more than 10 seconds. If it doesn’t work the first time, wait 30 seconds and then try again. This trick enables air and fuel to mix without risking a flooded engine.

Now you’re ready to brave the long Québec winter. If you think your family and friends may be interested in this advice, share it on social media. And if you have questions, tips, or tricks, share them with us on the blog..