5 Tips For Safe Winter Driving In Canadian Winters

5 Tips For Safe Winter Driving In Canadian Winters


If you’re like many other Canadians, you have found joy in the winter. Maybe you love to ski, ice fish or go skating. With 6 months of winter (at minimum), you’ve likely found some ways to have fun when the weather is cold and the ground is covered in snow. But one thing we can all agree on is that winter driving brings challenges that many are not fully equipped to handle. You see cars stuck, in the ditch and hear reports of the multitudes of accidents that happen every snowfall. To help you avoid these winter driving perils, we’ve put together some top tips for driving on winter roads.


  1. Adjust Your Tire Pressure - Your tires are going to deflate in cold weather. For every 10 degrees the temp drops, your tires will lose an average of 1-2 PSI (pounds per square inch) of pressure. Low tire pressure can result in increased stopping time when braking and make you more likely to skid. When the temperature drops, be sure to check your tire pressure and top it up when needed.


  1. Don’t Use Cruise Control - Cruise control is essentially giving up some of the control over how your vehicle is managing its speed. In winter conditions you may need to regain control of your vehicle in a split second so it is better to have it under your control the whole time. Also, turning off cruise control is typically done by tapping the brake which is often the worst thing you can do when encountering slippery sections and other obstacles. While you may have set your cruise to a certain speed, winter driving conditions can change rapidly and you may not feel comfortable accelerating or braking in a certain circumstance. It’s always best for you to make those decisions yourself so we highly recommend that you do not use cruise control when winter driving conditions are present.


  1. Braking On Snow Or Ice - When snow or ice is present on the road, the biggest challenge is bringing your vehicle to a stop. Braking can cause your wheels to lock up which means you lose traction and can no longer control stopping. In order to maintain safety when braking on snow or ice, be sure to drive smoothly without sudden changes or movements, slow down to a more manageable speed, keep your distance from other vehicles and don’t slam on your brakes - come to a stop slowly when possible. Pumping your brakes will not help you to stop, but applying firm pressure on the brake pedal will activate the ABS (anti-lock braking system) in your car which is your best tool for safely stopping in the winter.


  1. Vehicle Maintenance - Your vehicle has very different demands on it in the winter so be sure to give it a bit of a tune up as the weather cools down in the late fall. Pay special attention to ensuring your belts and battery are in good shape, ensure you have the right anti-freeze, oil type and wipers for winter and check that your heat and defrost are working at their full capacity. Anti-freeze requires the right ratio of water to coolant to perform its best in winter and avoid freezing, while oil thickens in the cold so you’ll want to consider a lower viscosity in the winter months.


  1. Snow Chains - When driving in any of the maritime provinces, snow chains are not required (though they are in Quebec), but there are still times you should consider using them. When roads are fully covered in compacted snow or ice, it’s always best to avoid travel when possible. When you do have to drive on roads that have not been plowed yet, or are still fully covered after plowing, putting on your snow chains is a good idea.


We also wanted to note that EV performance is affected by cold so you may not get the same range you are used to getting in warmer temperatures. Always play it safe and ensure you charge up more frequently and fully before longer trips.


When it comes to winter driving, the best advice is to be prepared.  Before the worst of the winter weather hits, maintain your vehicle, put your snow tires on, ensure you know how to use your snow chains if you often have to travel in poor weather and stock your vehicle with an emergency kit and snow brush. Also, be sure to always keep your gas tank at least half full. Not only is this so you have enough for heat and to get where you’re going, but also to avoid moisture freezing in your fuel lines. Lastly, one of the best ways to improve your winter driving experience is to purchase a vehicle that is built for the type of driving you need to do. There are numerous features in our Ford line-up that are built to improve traction, grip and handling. Many of the used vehicle inventory we bring in have these key features as well. Chat with someone on our Ford Dealership team today to help find you the right vehicle to make winter driving easier for you!

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