Everything you need to know about your car and snowstorms

Quelqu'un conduit une voiture en hiver

Even though our winters differ year after year, one element remains constant: snowstorms.

So here’s a short and practical guide to help you prepare for that first storm of the year. These tips will help keep you safe. Plus you’ll avoid headaches...and making auto insurance claims.

For car insurance that truly protects you

The risk of getting into an accident during a snowstorm is very real.

Does your car insurance cover you for a collision or an accident caused by a snowstorm? The answer is yes, if your contract includes “two-way" coverage. How can you find out? Check if these coverages are included under your contract.

  •  All-perils (Section B – Protection 1)
  • Collision and upset (Section B – Protection 2)
  • Comprehensive, excluding collision or upset (Section B – Protection 3)

Your car is also covered for damage caused by a temporary shelter that has not been properly cleared of snow.

Roadside assistance to the rescue!

You can’t plan for the unexpected! But if anything provides comfort during a snowstorm, it’s being able to count on roadside assistance. This is especially true if your car needs to be towed after getting stuck in snow or is involved in an accident.

So check if your car insurance includes this coverage.

A finely tuned machine

Fall is the perfect time to treat your car to the works. Proper maintenance is a must if you want to be ready to face winter.

While you’re at the garage, ask your mechanic to focus on the following:

  • Battery
  • Ignition system
  • Lights
  • Brakes

Get those winter tires on

Every year, it’s the same old story. Before the first snowstorm hits, all the headlines are about installing winter tires.

To avoid missing the installation deadline, book early... as people scramble to make their appointment.

Better too early than too late, as the saying goes.

Getting prepared for the storm

In winter, it’s always useful to have a first aid kid in your car with the following essentials:

  • Shovel
  • Jumper cables
  • Traction aids, like strips or mats
  • Blankets and warm clothing

Always have your cell phone with you to be able to make a call in case of an emergency, and make sure it’s fully charged.

Plus, if it’s snowing but you still have to hit the road, make sure your gas tank is topped up.

Keep the snow off your car

For adequate visibility on the road, both for you and other drivers, start by clearing all the snow and ice, and defogging your windows before you start driving. It’s a simple matter of respect and, above all, safety.

In Quebec it’s clear your car of snow, or else!

Did you know that you can be fined between $100 and $200 if you don’t clear the snow from your vehicle?

It’s against the law to drive with a car covered in snow.

The police may even require you to clear all the snow before they let you drive off.

Before starting your car, remove all the snow that may block the exhaust pipe. You’ll avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

So get those snow brushes out!

Adapt your driving to the weather

Snow, gusting winds and slippery roads really put your driving skills to the test!

All the more reason why you should adapt your driving to the weather, darkness and road conditions.

Be safe and keep a greater distance between you and the car in front of you than you normally might to give yourself more time to brake abruptly.

Slow down and don’t use cruise control during a snowstorm.

This means you need to schedule more time for your trips and stay updated with weather forecasts, even if it means delaying or cancelling your trip.

Don’t be a hero out there...

Still being reckless on the roads despite the nasty weather? It could lead to a $60 fine and 2 demerit points on your driving record.

Stay in control when you slip and slide

Even the most seasoned drivers can’t always help but skid at some point during a snowstorm. This usually occurs when you brake too fast to avoid an obstacle.

The most important thing is to remember to stay calm.

Here’s what you need to do if your car starts skidding:

  • Lay off the brake pedal completely.
  • Shift your gear to neutral if you drive an automatic vehicle. If you drive a manual car, press the clutch pedal.
  • Allow the tires to regain traction with the road.
  • Shift back into drive if your car is automatic. Release the clutch if you drive a manual car.
  • Gradually speed up when you regain control.

Electronic Stability Control, a driver’s best friend

Now mandatory on new vehicles Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is a system that lets you regain control of the vehicle when you brake abruptly or when roads are slippery.

To avoid an obstacle, ESC will brake or adjust the power of your engine, or even do both at the same time. This allows the car to stay on its course rather than lose control.

Be sure others can track you

Major snowstorm coming? Don’t travel alone if possible.

But if you must, notify others of your plans and the approximate time you expect to arrive at your destination.

Opt for major roads that are used more frequently and cleared of snow more often instead of smaller streets with less circulation.

Before the storm hits...

Imagine yourself in an emergency situation. Have everything you would need in your car? Always plan and be prepared.

If you can stay home, do it. After all, watching the snow fall during a storm is a beautiful sight!

Now all you have to do is shovel.