Top 5 DIY Things to Get Your Car Ready for Winter

Top Five DIY Things to Get Your Car Ready for Winter

I've been thinking...Fall is upon us in full force and it brings along with it a host of things that need to be addressed with your car. In Canada, fall is a very short-lived season and it is the perfect time to get your ride ready for the harsh winter that is never too far behind. Here is my list of the top five DIY things to get your car ready for winter.

1. Get a good set of winter tires and rims.
2. While your wheels are off, check your brakes.
3. Get a good set of new wiper blades.
4. Change your engine oil and filter along with the air and cabin air filters.
5. Make sure all your fluids are topped-up and winter ready.

First on the list is to get yourself a good set of winter tires and rims. For the longest time I have fought this line of thought because I could not justify spending that amount of money to replace a perfectly good set of tires. The worst part about it is that I would use the craziest of excuses like, winter tires are noisy and harder on gas or I don't like the way they make my car look. The fact of the matter is that winter tires just make sense. They remain softer at lower temperatures which allows for better traction, improved steering control and reduced braking distances. Getting them mounted on a good set of rims just makes them easier to switch back and forth as the seasons change. It also allows you to save money in the long run as you can do this yourself instead of paying someone else to do it.  Now, before you go out there and hurt yourself, there are a few things worth noting. You will need a few tools to get this done and no this cannot happen with the tools you have to throw on your spare tire. You will need a good floor jack and safety stands as well as some basic hand tools.  Safety is super important here so don't rush through it. If you are not sure how to do this, please watch this video before you get started.


While you have the wheels off, it is the best time to get number two on our list done.  Checking your car's brakes can be a life saver, specially just before winter.  You want to make sure that your brake pads have enough life left to last you through the winter but more importantly, you want to check how they are performing.  A healthy brake system should have pads wearing evenly on both sides of the rotor (large metal disc) as well as  from top to bottom.  If you notice one is not as thick as the other or is super worn on one end and thick at the other, it is a sign that something is not right and you should bring your vehicle to a trusted mechanic for a brake system service.  


Coming in at number three on my list is to get yourself a solid set of new wiper blades.  Now is the best time to go out and get them because it will be a lot easier than doing this in the slushy snow after you've realized you need them.   There is nothing worse than getting on the road and turning on the wipers only to find out you can't see out of windshield anymore.  It is very dangerous and frankly irresponsible.



The fourth thing you should do before winter is to get your engine oil and filter changed along with the engine and cabin air filters.  Fall is a difficult time for your car's air filters, all the dust from pollen and falling leaves gets clogged up in there and your engine struggles to get air while your heater is having a hard time defrosting your windshield.  Getting all that done before winter ensures that your car is in it's best possible shape to handle whatever comes its way.

Finally, you want to make sure all your fluids are topped up and winter ready.  This means you want to check all fluid levels (refer back to your owner's manual to find the location).  You also want to make sure they are winter ready.  Most oils, like engine, transmission, brake and power steering are good,  you want to direct your attention to the other fluids which contain water such as your coolant and your windshield washer fluid.  This last one usually has a temperature rating on the bottle so just make sure you pay attention to what you are pouring in there.  The engine coolant however is a little different, you will need to test the strength using a coolant tester which will tell you level of freeze protection you can expect from your coolant.  Depending on the results, you might want to add pure antifreeze or water into your system.

With that, we have come to the end of my top five DIY things to get your car ready for winter.  I hope this article inspires you to get out there and get things done.  When we get on the winter's treacherous roads we can all breathe a little easier knowing our cars are at the peak of their game.

Thanks for reading!



Car Ownership Basics – Top 10 Things to Know Before You Hit the Road

I've been thinking...One of the most appealing characteristics of urban living has to be how everything is so accessible. It does however, create unhealthy habits of consumerism. So many people coast through their life having no clue of how the things they use on a daily basis work. Personally,  I have always been the curious type, taking things apart to see how they work and putting them back together is who I am to my core. Consequently, I have developed a passion for cars and lately, it seems to me that more and more people are driving around oblivious of their cars basic functions.   All around me I see people with no headlights on after dark or with their windshields full of condensation from the A/C.  My intention is that this be the start of a series on car ownership basics where I can share with you some of the knowledge I have accumulated over the years. 

When it comes to owning a car, your most important resource is your owner's manual. Everything you need to know about your car is hidden somewhere in there. The first thing you should do then, is to get familiar with it. You will find great information on how to program your radio, how to turn your lights on, where the power outlets are situated and you'll also learn how your A/C and heater work. But that's not it; in this amazing piece of literature, there is also everything you ever need to know about the proper maintenance of your vehicle, what the manufacturer suggests for oil change intervals and the correct tire size for your vehicle. I have always found it crazy how people will read the instruction manual to build a $300 BBQ but when it comes to their $40 000 car they just "wing it"

Having worked in the automotive industry for over 20 years now, I think it is safe for me to say that I have driven many different cars. I have a ton of experience with them but when I purchased my new car a few months ago, the first thing I did was to go through my owner's manual. My wife was mocking me about it but I can assure you that I found things in there I didn't know were possible with my car.  She has since stopped the teasing because I was able to show her how she can automatically tilt the passenger side mirror while parking in reverse.  A feature she uses regularly.    So don't wait until you are driving down the road at ninety kilometres an hour before you need to figure out how your wipers work. There are enough things that require your attention that  you don't need to do these things while driving. Take a few minutes and go through my list for the top ten things you should know about your car before hitting the road.  The answers to these questions can be found in your Owner's Manual and having this list will make it a lot easier for you to do so.

1. How do you adjust the driver's seat and seat-belt?
2. How do you adjust the side mirrors?
3. How do you adjust the steering wheel?
4. How do you turn the lights ON and OFF?
5. How do you turn the wipers ON and OFF?
6. How do you use the A/C and Heater controls?
7. How do you apply and release the emergency/parking brake?
8. How do you lock and unlock your doors?
9. How do you turn the hazard and turn signals ON and OFF?
10. How do you start your engine?

I recommend that you sit in your car as you familiarize yourself with these ten things. That way you can put into practice as you read and commit it to memory a lot better. Once you are comfortable with these things then you are ready to move on to the fun stuff; Driving! Do keep in mind however that driving is a privilege and not a right and if you don't obey the rules then that privilege can very easily be taken away. Just to be clear, I am not getting up on my soap box and condemning everyone as if I have no faults. I am merely speaking from very difficult experience. I learned this lesson the hard way and I hope to help you avoid this long and very expensive journey. There are too many people driving the roads today who believe they somehow own it and can do whatever they want on it. I assure you this is not the case, and sooner or later they will either get caught or hurt someone.

I hope I am not being too harsh but I feel like driving should be relaxing and enjoyable not make me want to pull my hair out. That being said, I realize people have places to go and that sometimes we are running a little late. That is no reason to be unsafe and pull crazy manoeuvres and put everybody else's life in danger. Too many times, I have seen people weaving in and out of traffic, burning through red lights, using turning lanes or the shoulder to get ahead.  It is dangerous and irresponsible. Take your time, get to know your car, leave a little earlier and respect the rules as well as the other drivers. That way, nobody gets hurt, your wallet is a little happier at the gas pump and the police doesn't have to chase you to give you a ticket or even worse, take away your driving privilege and even possibly your freedom.

As I said in the beginning of this post, I want to make this into a series of posts about car ownership basics where we can dive a little deeper into the subject.  So keep an eye out over the coming weeks for these and much more.

Thanks for reading!