If you’ve ever hit a patch of black ice or found yourself white-knuckling in a snowstorm, you know how winter can wreak havoc on even the simplest drive—and when you have a bad experience, it can make you reluctant to take to the roads again. But you don’t have to leave it to chance: You can beat Jack Frost at his own game by being prepared and adjusting how you drive in winter weather. We talked to the experts at CAA to get their top tips for improving the winter driving experience.
Preparedness is your first line of defense against a negative winter driving experience. First things first: Having a valid CAA Membership ensures that you can easily get help if you end up with car trouble, giving you peace of mind while you’re on the road.
In addition to ensuring you have reliable roadside assistance, stock your car with winter emergency essentials. You can pick up a ready-to-go kit, available for purchase at CAA stores, or you can assemble your own. Make sure you have the following items on hand in case of a winter emergency:
- Cell phone with charger
- Pencil and notebook
- Vehicle owner’s manual
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Drinking water and snacks
- Booster cables and tire pressure gauge
- Flares, warning triangles or reflectors
- Brightly coloured flag or scarf
- Windshield washer fluid and wiping cloth
- Coolant and fire extinguisher
- Ice scraper, snow brush and snow shovel
- Candles and waterproof matches
- First aid kit
Think about what your kids might need as well. Travel pillows, extra blankets, books and games, colouring books and crayons will help to pass the time while you’re waiting for help in the cold. It will make the roadside issue seem more like an adventure and less like an emergency.
Ensure your battery is ready for cold weather
Car batteries don’t like extreme cold. Before the cold weather really hits, it’s worth asking your mechanic to check on the health of your battery so you can deal with any issues in your own time, rather than being inconvenienced later if the battery has a problem.
In the event that your battery does die in the winter, CAA Mobile Battery Service can help. They can give your battery a boost or they can replace most batteries on the spot .1 You’ll get Member, all-in-one pricing that includes delivery, replacement, testing and disposal of your old battery. CAA’s batteries come with a six-year warranty .2
CAA mobile Battery Service Member benefit subject to availability by geographical area. Call 1-800-222-4357 for location details.
Adjust your driving habits during the winter months
The weather can take a nasty turn quite quickly during the winter. Be ready for whatever the cold weather months throw at you by learning a few seasonal driving strategies.
• Clean off your entire vehicle before driving. Snow and ice can blow off of your vehicle at high speeds, reducing another driver’s visibility. Snow can also slide into your windshield when you stop abruptly if you don’t clear the roof.
• Go slowly in the snow. Poor weather conditions mean slower and more cautious driving. Leave plenty of time to get to your destination.
• Move over for emergency vehicles and tow trucks on the side of the road with amber lights flashing (this is the law year-round, and especially important when there are weather conditions at play).
• Never pass a snow plow. Stay well back when you see the blue flashing lights of a plow.
• Avoid using overdrive or cruise control.
• Practise emergency braking to understand how your vehicle will react.
• Always check the weather forecast before leaving home.
• Leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle ahead.
• Stay on the main roads if possible (smaller sideroads are less likely to have been plowed).
For more winter driving tips and tricks, check out this free download.
To purchase a CAA Membership, please visit https://www.caasco.com/membership.
Planning to escape the winter weather altogether? CAA Members get exclusive offers and perks on travel, access to exclusive vacations and 10% off on travel insurance.*
1. CAA mobile Battery Service Member benefit subject to availability by geographical area. Call 1-800-222-4357 for location details. 2. First 3-years is unlimited warranty and the remaining 3-years is a prorated discount. This article contains information about CAA Membership and services available through CAA Club Group operating as CAA South Central Ontario. *Applies to CAA Members in good standing with dues paid in full by membership expiry date. 10% savings applies to the total premium excluding applicable taxes. Minimum premium applies. Excludes Visitors to Canada Insurance. ®CAA trademarks are owned by, and use is authorized by, the Canadian Automobile Association.