Routine maintenance is a must for vehicle longevity, but before any long journey in the cold weather, it's even more important to have your vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic. Brake pads, tires, belts and hoses should be inspected for wear and proper operation, fluids should be checked and topped off.
It's important to note that a 'high octane' number doesn't necessarily ensure the gasoline is 'high-quality'. “For vehicles whose manufacturers recommend or require the higher octane associated with a premium gasoline, ensuring you buy a high-quality fuel can make a difference. For example, Shell V-Power Premium Gasoline is designed to clean and protect your engine from performance-robbing gunk that lower quality gasolines can leave behind, providing maximum protection for optimum performance,” explains Ken Mitchell, an engineer at Shell.
Snow tires have deeper grooves that provide significantly more traction than all season tires, making them capable of stopping your car faster than all season tires. In addition, the colder weather and rolling resistance caused by snow and slush can decrease air pressure in tires. After you switch to your winter tires, ensure that the pressure is optimal, and re-check the pressure regularly, especially after a sharp drop in temperature. Each tire that is under–inflated by 2 psi (14 kPa) causes a 1%* increase in fuel consumption.
Cold Starts vs. Idling:
You may believe that you're doing the best for your vehicle by allowing it to 'warm up' in the cold weather with a few minutes of idling. In fact, more than just the engine needs to be warmed up and this can only happen if the vehicle is moving. For an average vehicle, it takes about five kilometers of driving* to warm up the engine as well as the wheel bearings, steering, suspension, transmission and tires.
Although the aforementioned tips are preventative measures, vehicle breakdowns can still occur. Pack an emergency kit for your car filled with a first-aid kit, flashlight, thermal blanket, tire pressure gauge, coolant, water, jumper cables, safety flares, and emergency tire inflator.
* Natural Resources Canada Office of Energy Efficiency Auto$mart Thinking program