For many Canadians winter means hot chocolate, hockey, and holidays. It also means getting your car ready to brave the cold and challenging road conditions.

“Winter driving can be a challenge when the roads are icy and slippery. Accidents can increase in those months,” explains Tracy Laughlin, Vice President, Personal Lines, Ontario and Atlantic at Intact Insurance. “It’s always best to be prepared for the unexpected when driving during winter. One part of the solution is adopting sensible driving habits and the other part is preparing your car.”

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Here are Laughlin’s tips to help ensure you stay safe on the roads this winter:

1. Change your tires. Replace your all-season tires with winter tires. These will allow you to stop up sooner and will improve your control of the vehicle. Keep up the maintenance of your tires by inspecting them regularly and checking the tire pressure at least once a month.

2. Check your wipers. You can’t drive if you can’t see, so make sure your wiper blades are working properly or consider getting new ones that clear the windshield without leaving streaks. This will improve your vision and driving during a winter storm.

3. Check fluid and heat. Make sure your car has enough windshield washer fluid. Switch to a fluid that is rated -40°C during cold months. Test your heating system to ensure it’s working properly.

4. Pack an emergency kit. An emergency kit comes in handy if your car breaks down or if you’re in an accident. The kit should include things like antifreeze, a flashlight, batteries, blankets, a candle, matches, hazard markers, a snow shovel, an ice scraper, sand, booster cables, food, and the phone number of a local towing company.

5. Clean your car. Before driving, remove all the snow and ice from your car. Key areas are the hood, roof, windows, and most importantly, the lights that help you see road obstacles, vehicles, and pedestrians.

Written by Cleo Neufeld

Cleo Neufeld

Before meeting the love of her life, Cleo was a single mother to a beautiful little girl for many years. She shares her expertise in single parenting, building a relationship, living on a budget and more.