Windsor-Essex motorists urged to winterize autos

As flurries fly across southern Ontario, drivers are being reminded to plan ahead and get their vehicles ready for winter weather on the roads.

CAA has partnered with several police forces and the Ministry of Transportation to help inform Ontarians that now is the time to get your winter tires installed, check your vehicle’s battery and have a stocked emergency kit with all the essentials needed for the winter months.

“Now’s about the time that you want to start thinking about booking your appointment with your mechanic,” said CAA South Central Ontario spokesperson Nadia Matos. “To get a set of four matching winter tires and while you’re there you may as well get him or her to check your car battery.”

“The average car battery lasts about three to five years, and even a fully charged brand new battery loses about 30 to 35 per cent of its power on those very cold winter mornings. So really now when you’re getting your winter tires ready and as you’re getting prepared for the winter driving season, it’s crucial that you talk to your mechanic and make sure that your battery will make it through the winter months.”

At MacDonald’s Automotive Supercentre in Windsor, appointments are getting booked up to two weeks in advance as more drivers in Canada’s southernmost region have winter tires installed.

“We’re booked up every day, all day,” said owner Peter Solly. “We’re selling tires like crazy. We store them, we change them, we sell them nonstop.”

Solly said his garage and parking lot on Eugenie Street East have been full since snow started flying in Windsor last weekend, explaining he believes 80 per cent of the general public now switches their tires.

“Years ago, not too many. But now almost everybody,” Solly said. “It’s weird because our winters are mild, but you still get icy roads.”

“I think it’s the safety aspect. I think that everyone is more conscious about driving on the road, they don’t want to get in an accident. They don’t want their child or someone to get hurt that they care about. It’s just a safety thing.”

According to CAA, motorists should also refer to some other less-practiced tips to help make winter driving safer:

  • Keep the gas tank at least half full at all times. Cold weather causes condensation in the system, which can lead to fuel-line freeze-up and can prevent your car from starting.

  • Remove excess snow from the car before driving off. Any snow left on the roof might slide down onto the windshield and obstruct your vision.

  • Keep your wiper fluid full. Keep extra fluid in your trunk. Make sure it’s rated for -40℃.

  • Pack a fully stocked emergency kit. The kit should include a flashlight and extra batteries, warning devices (eg, flares, reflective vests/strips), a first aid kit, blankets, jumper cables, non-perishable food and water plus a phone charger. Be sure to also keep an ice scraper, small shovel and snow brush handy in your car at all times.

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