How to Prepare for Winter Driving in Edmonton, Alberta
It’s that time of year. Trees are fading brown and yellow, leaves are falling, allergies are running rampant, and department stores have exploded with Halloween decorum. But soon, the Trick or Treaters will have come and gone, people will stop sniffling and sneezing, trees will be stripped bare of leaves and left looking like crooked skeletons and the 2016 models will be pushed out for the new 2017s. Let’s face some facts, and I know this is this last thing you want to hear but…
Winter is coming!
Let’s not get too down. With the coming of the snow brings both the bad (cold), and the wonderful (holidays, skiing). Everyone knows driving in the winter is an infinitely tedious task, especially in Edmonton. So, here are a few tips to help better prepare for the upcoming cold season.
Why Winter tires?
Do you even need winter tires?
Short answer: Yes. You should get winter tires. Winter tires provide faster breaking and better traction than All-Seasons. All-Seasons are alright in rainy or sleety conditions, but in icy or heavy snow, winter tires are the way to go. Not to mention, most vehicles come equipped with regular summer tires which are in no way capable in handling winter conditions.
It shouldn’t matter if you drive a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander, which handles wonderfully in the snow, winter tires will make an already manageable drive even better. Winter tires come built with a specialized rubber with a winter specific tread to allow your tires to withstand colder and icy conditions. Winter tires not only help you, but it helps other drivers as well.
When should I be getting my winter tires installed?
There are no cut and dry rules to this one. Too early, and you risk tearing up the road and often times your tire studs. Too late, and well, you’re stuck behind a line of other late-to-the-party people trying to jam into any auto body shop to get their winter tires on. Wait until snow, but book appointments, and order in parts before it’s too late.
That’s your best bet. Follow the weather, get the jump on the situation, or better yet, learn of to do it yourself.
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What other gear do I need?
Winters in Alberta can reach unbearable temperatures, which makes driving almost equally unbearable. We know how cold it is, but still, people go on each winter being completely unprepared. How often do you see someone broken down on the side of the road, four-ways on, hands tucked into the sleeves of their jacket while trying to change a tire or check their engine? Don’t be that person. Be prepared.
New Wiper blades
If you can, purchase blades that are tailor made for the winter. They make blades that cut through ice. They may cost a little extra but trust me, it’ll be worth it.
What to have inside my winter vehicle?
This shouldn’t have to be said, but dress for the weather. Sure you can warm up the car from the comfort of your nice, warm house and by the time you run and jump into your vehicle, it’s as nice and warm as your house was. Don’t be that person. When it comes to winter driving in Alberta, expect the best but plan for the worst.
Here’s a list of things you should have that will help you prepare for the worst:
Jackets, Sweaters, Gloves/Mitts,Scarves,Boots, Socks, Blankets/Towels. You should have extras of almost all of these, especially, sweaters, blankets, and gloves. This is doubly important if you’re going on any kind of road trip. A few other items to have and these are also important. Kitty Litter: A cheap and very effective item that provides traction when your tires are stuck in deep snow. Not to mention it melts ice and often smells quite nice. Snowbrush and Ice Scraper: I want you to try brushing away a half a foot of snow off your windshield with the sleeve of your jacket. Go ahead, try it one time and you’ll know why having this in your vehicle is a necessity. Sure, you can just wait until the heat from your car melts the ice collected on your windshield, but that takes time, a lot of time. Who wants to wait around for thirty minutes watching ice melt when you can just gut it out for three minutes and clear it yourself?Booster Cables: Batteries die. It’s just one of those sad facts of owning a vehicle. A dead battery usually means no power, and no power usually means no heat. And I don’t have to tell you how that is the last thing you ever want in the winter. Keep these somewhere in your vehicle. You don’t want to rely on the kindness of strangers more than you already have to.
How do I mentally prepare for winter driving?
Sure, you’re confident that your 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer handles well in ice and snow, but is that enough? Often times, yes, but in order to secure the safest possible drive you’re going to want to start leaving earlier and driving slower. You don’t want to be caught off guard on the first heavy snowfall with your summer driving habits still engrained inside of your brain. Be cautious, be astute, and always leave the proper amount of room between vehicles. These traits are true for all driving, but especially true during the long winter months as your reaction time isn’t the only thing you’re relying on. Snow-filled roads can never be fully trusted, even with the proper preparations like winter tires and other things we discussed. So be cautious and vigilant at all times.
Lastly, and these are words of wisdom I feel everyone should abide by not just on the road, but in life. Be patient and be generous. The road is not yours and yours alone. There are other vehicles, other drivers, some of which have also had a rough day or rough week, some of which are in an incredible rush, and even some who are just plain oblivious. But just stay calm, and be nice, trust me when I say you’ll find your driver experience will greatly improve if you do.
A few final thoughts here to sum everything up; preparation, caution, and of course winter tires. It also doesn’t help if your vehicle is 4WD or AWD, which is a hot commodity if you drive a vehicle from West Side Mitsubishi in Edmonton.