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BCAA’s top tips to help you avoid BC’s most common winter driving problems

Here are some of the most common incidents we see when we arrive on scene, along with our top tips on how to avoid getting into these situations in the first place.

1. Dead battery.

This is actually one of the most common problems we’re called on for help, but can also be one of the easiest to avoid.

  • Get a vehicle winter check-up with an automotive professional you trust.
  • BCAA Auto Service Centre provides a 42-point inspection along with winter maintenance and winter tire change over services.

2. Tires are flat, underinflated or in poor condition.

Your tires are the only things keeping you and your car connected to the road. You want them to be properly inflated and in their best condition to give you better traction.

  • Inspect your tires often, especially when weather fluctuates. Air pressure decreases in cold weather and tires can become underinflated more often.
  • Look out for low tread depth and check for bulges or cracks.

3. Cars sliding off the road because they don’t have winter tires or the tire treads are worn.

If you don’t have tires specifically designed for snow, ice and cold slippery conditions, your car won’t get you far in the winter months.

  • Invest in winter tires that meet BC’s winter tire laws. This is a safe option for all winter conditions, not just snow.
  • Don’t mix tires. Having four matching, properly inflated winter tires will give better traction.
  • Even winter tires must have enough tread. In BC, winter tires must have a tread depth of at least 3.5 millimetres in order to meet the province’s winter tire laws.

4. Car couldn’t stop in time and slid into something or off the road.

In addition to having proper winter tires, adjust how you drive to match the conditions and take into account that roads are slippery overall.

  • Drive at slower speeds and leave more room between you and the car ahead. Speed limits are meant for ideal road conditions.
  • Give yourself extra time to get to your destination. This helps prevent the temptation to drive too fast.

5. Car got stuck on a hill, unplowed street, unshovelled driveway or in a busy parking lot.

We see these incidents a lot! After finding out how drivers get into these circumstances, here are ways to avoid one of these unsafe situations.

  • Shovel your driveway each time it snows. This helps prevent ice from forming and building up.
  • Check condition of side streets around your home. Many of our rescues are for drivers who get stuck on unplowed side streets, particularly near their homes.
  • Come up with a different route that keeps you on main roads. Hills (even those with small inclines), congested streets, intersections with no left-turning light and narrow streets are even more challenging during winter.
  • Understand your winter driving skills and what your vehicle is capable of doing. Think about other safe options rather than just ‘going for it’ such as turning around to go another way, waiting until the problem has cleared or pulling over to park and leave your car.
  • Understand winter road conditions. Streets and hills are slippery overall, side streets are narrower due to plowed snow along the curb, driving through deep water can damage your car and parking lots will be more difficult to maneuver within.

6. Increase in winter-related driving incidents.

Calls for BCAA Roadside Assistance can spike up by 50% during winter months. If there’s a way to avoid driving, especially when conditions are bad, we recommend you do so by planning ahead.

  • Check weather and road reports before you leave. Don’t drive if the weather is bad or wait until the weather and road conditions improve.
  • Minimize how much you have to drive in winter conditions. Think about changing your routine during winter months. Here’s what we mean:

    - Stock up on groceries and other everyday essentials so you don’t have to go out shopping as frequently.

    - Adjust activities that you and your family will need to drive to such as kids’ extra-curricular activities.

    - Combine errands into one trip and save it for days when the weather and roads aren’t so bad.

7. In any situation, carry winter driving emergency items in your car.

Having some simple winter driving tools can come in handy to get you out of a minor situation or in case you become stranded and need to wait for help.