10 Ways To Prepare Your Vehicle For Winter

Get ready for winter driving with these 10 simple steps from the pros.

Driving in the winter poses a unique set of challenges. Here are 10 tips from our Service Advisors and technicians on how to prepare your vehicle (and yourself!) for winter driving!

1) Switch to winter tires.

If there’s only one step you take to prepare your vehicle for winter- make it this one! Summer tires have been shown to decrease braking efficacy by up to 50% in the winter. When the temperatures fall below 7 degrees Celsius, all season tires and summer tires lose their grip. Winter tires have a deeper and more flexible grip.

2) Restock your Winter Emergency Kit

It’s always important to be prepared! Having a well stocked winter emergency kit kept safely in your car will prove useful if you are ever find yourself stuck in a storm, off the road, or stuck in snow.

  • First aid kit
  • Water
  • Extra gloves
  • Winter boots
  • Sand, rock salt, or kitty litter (to use under tires to create grip)
  • Flashlight (make sure the batteries are charged!)
  • Reflector or flares
  • Matches / Lighter
  • Extra phone charger
  • Jumper cables
  • Water & non perishables (energy bars),
  • Shovel
  • Hand / Foot Warmer packs (available at dollar stores and other large retailers)

*Note: Replenish your supplies and keep it in the car! If you use something, make sure to put it back. Make sure it is stocked and secured. In case of an accident, you don’t want it to become a projectile.

3) Replace your wiper blades.

Wiper blades have a lifespan of about 18-24 month. Winter wiper blades are specifically designed to combat snow, slush, and salt. While you’re at it , switch to winter grade washer fluid. It won’t freeze and damage the hoses when the temperature drops below zero.

4) Check your battery.

Extreme cold pulls voltage from a battery, making it harder for your vehicle to start. In fact, battery output drops by about half at -18 C. Keeping your battery fully charged will help prevent this pain. If using all-season tires, check the tread on your tires – it is time to consider replacing them if less than 5/32 of an inch.

According to TireAmerica:

If your gauge measurement reads:

  • 6/32″ or higher: Your tire’s tread depth is sufficient.
  • 5/32″: If snow-covered roads are a concern, you should consider replacing your tires.
  • 4/32″: If you frequently drive on wet roads, consider replacing your tires.
  • 3/32″: It’s time to start shopping for new tires. They are close to being worn out.
  • 2/32″ or lower: Your tires are legally bald, and it’s time to replace them.

DRIVING TIP! Avoid using cruise control in icy, slushy, or snowy conditions. Increase your following distance to 8 – 10 seconds.

5) Carry the essentials.

Keep and ice scraper, window brush, and extra windshield wiper fluid with antifreeze in the car.

6) Keep your fuel level above a 1/4 tank.

Cold weather decreases fuel efficiency. Keeping the tank full helps to avoid condensation inside the tank. If the tank gets too low in winter, you risk a fuel-line freeze, which will prevent your vehicle from starting until it thaws

7) Make sure your vehicle is up to date on recommended services.

Preventative maintenance is an essential and often forgotten step to prepare your vehicle for winter. Make sure you’re up to date on your oil change (Ford recommends every 6 months or 8,000-10,000 km, whichever comes first). “The Works” package also includes a 99 point inspection. Other items to check up on include your battery, brakes, lights and fuses, cooling and heating systems, electrical and exhaust systems, and belts and hoses. Lots of people only care for their car when something goes wrong, but preventative maintenance can help make sure you don’t encounter bigger problems that had gone unchecked.

8) Switch to synthetic oil.

Synthetic oil will help your car start in winter temperatures. When temperatures drop, synthetic grade car oils won’t thicken up like conventional oil, which allows it to flow better. This reduces engine wear and can extend the life of the engine.

9) Locks, latches, and doors.

 Lubricate door locks, latches, and hinges and treat the door and window seals with a silicone lubricant (available from our parts counter!) works well for mechanical and rubber components. By spraying the door and window weather seals, they will be less likely to freeze you out on a cold winter morning. Opt for one with a spray straw so you can get the spray into lock cylinders and down into the window glass channel-runs. Remember to also do hatchback lids or lift-gates and hoods. 

10) Clean before you go!

Snow, slush, dirt, and salt can interfere with the sensors on your car. Before you head out, clean off your back up camera and sensors to allow the assistive-driving features like automatic emergency braking to work. Plus, making sure your car is properly cleaned off is essential to safe driving and also the law.

BONUS TIP! Download the FordPass app to schedule a turn-on time for your Ford. This ensures your vehicle has a chance to warm up before you have to head out, and makes it easier to clean off! Plus, it takes the chill out of your morning commute. **Never leave your car running inside a garage!