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Oct 28, 2022

8 min. read

Whoever coined the term “winter wonderland” surely never had to drive on Manitoba roads after a fresh snowfall. But the season doesn’t have to spell doom and gloom for motorists. With a little planning, you can help make sure your vehicle performs safely and efficiently on ice, snow and slush. And for more auto advice, visit caamanitoba.com/auto/learning.

Before Your Drive

Check weather and road conditions. Allow extra time to reach your destination safely and be prepared to reduce your speed. Be sure to defrost your windows and remove ice and snow from your vehicle. Keep a full tank or, at minimum, half a tank of fuel. This will help reduce moisture in the gas tank and add weight to your vehicle.

Illustrations of a man working on a car in the snow.


Switching to winter tires is the most important thing you can do for cold-weather driving. Their flexible rubber and deep threads offer better traction on snowy or icy roads—and any time the mercury dips below 7 C. But large temperature fluctuations can cause tires to lose pressure: one psi for every five-degree drop. Refill with air when necessary. If you’re in Brandon or Winnipeg, CAA will come to you and change out your winter/summer tires at your convenience: caamanitoba.com/tirechange.


Extreme cold drains battery voltage, making it harder to start your vehicle. Batteries more than three years old are at higher risk of wintertime sluggishness. Contact CAA Battery Service to get your battery tested for free. And if you need a new one, you’'ll get member-exclusive pricing and on-the-spot installation. Planning a long winter getaway? Plug in a battery tender to maintain an optimal charge while you’re out of town in cold weather.


If you don’t already use synthetic oil, consider making the switch. Unlike conventional motor oil, synthetic oil doesn’t thicken in cold weather. It’ll flow better in winter, helping reduce the wear and tear on your engine.

A series of illustrations showing people working on a car in the snow.


Like winter tires, winter wiper blades just work better in frigid conditions. The best blades use a more rugged rubber that stays flexible in the cold and resists damage from wiping away ice and snow. For improved windshield cleaning, use winter-grade washer fluid, too.

Belts & Hoses

Over time, temperature variations can cause engine belts and hoses to crack, bulge and leak. Worn-out belts often make a squeak or squealing sound, while broken hoses may hiss. Visually inspect them—and if anything looks suspect, have a trusted mechanic check your engine.

Engine Block Heater

Plugging in your block heater is a must once temperatures drop below -15 C. Use a block-heater tester to make sure it’s working properly before the cold kicks in. Be sure to check for cracks and tears in the cord, heater and outlet you’re using.

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