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Early bird car tips to help you outsmart winter and save

Compared to the rest of the country, BC’s winters can seem a little ‘laid back’ which might make you feel little or no urgency to get prepared. But what if we told you that when harsh weather hits (not necessarily snow), the number of roadside assistance calls BCAA receives from across the province can spike up by 50% on certain days? In the Metro Vancouver area, roadside assistance call volumes during frigid or snowy weather can even double!

Each year, we’ve all seen this happen—as communities across BC get hit with their first snowfall, a mad dash to get our cars in for service and install our winter tires begins with some of us still having to shop for tires. Meanwhile, vehicle repair shops have become fully booked and the many of faces of winter continue to descend upon us.

BCAA Automotive techs see first-hand the challenges drivers experience each winter and we’re sharing their top tips to help you beat the first snowfall rush and avoid a roadside emergency. Spoiler alert: their biggest tip is to prepare early.

Car problems

Most common roadside emergencies aren’t only caused by snow

When we think about winter driving, we often fixate on how to navigate on snow and ice. But BC winters can be a mixed bag that can dish out other challenging conditions on top of the white stuff.

In addition to cars sliding off the road or getting stuck on ice, much of what BCAA Automotive Technicians see are dead batteries, frozen car locks and flat or underinflated tires. These vehicle breakdowns aren’t caused by snow specifically which tells us that other winter conditions, like cold temperatures, continuous rain and ice are enough of a challenge for drivers and our cars.

Top tips from BCAA Automotive Experts

Here’s how to beat the ‘first snowfall’ rush to the repair shop, save time and money, and more importantly—stay safe all winter long.

  1. Book your winter car service early
    The first sight of snow triggers one of the busiest times for car maintenance shops and you may be waiting a while to get an appointment. Beat the 'first snowfall’ rush by scheduling your maintenance appointment in October. Most repair facilities, such as BCAA Auto Service Centre, provide multiple-point inspections along with winter tire mount and balance. Plus, BCAA Members get a free wheel alignment check with every oil change at any BCAA Auto Service Centre, along with a free car wash with every service.

    Winter driving
  2. Be ready for BC’s Winter Tire Law
    Install winter tires, especially if you plan to travel on BC highways. From October 1 until March 31, sections of highways require winter tires or chains onboard. Visit the BC Government’s website to get details and updates. Use our BCAA Winter Tire Guide to learn more and get tips.

  3. Get early winter deals on tires
    Many tire manufacturers offer rebates on new tires during the fall. Visit your local BCAA Auto Service Centre and one of our trusted experts can help you choose the right tires for your driving needs. Plus, BCAA Members can save up to $100 or earn up to 125 CAA Dollars® on new Pirelli winter tires until Dec 15, 2019.

    Car Tires
  4. Make sure crucial car parts will work when you need them most
    Ensure car components essential to safety are working properly including: brakes, headlights, brake lights, windshield wipers and even your car’s air conditioning (that's right, it’s the A/C that can often de-fog your windows faster). Most car repair places offer winter-specific services.

  5. Allow time for repairs
    If a major repair is required, having your car checked by an automotive professional early on gives you enough time to get your car fixed before the weather really starts to turn. This also helps you prepare your family and schedule for when your car must be in the garage for repairs.

    car repair
  6. Have a roadside emergency kit
    Carry items in your vehicle to handle common winter driving tasks, such as removing snow and ice off your car, as well as any supplies you might need in an emergency. Check out our list of roadside emergency kit essentials. Include a BCAA Membership as part of your kit and carry your Membership card with you in case you get stuck—you’ll have access to our roadside assistance 24/7.

  7. Keep de-icing spray handy (outside of your car)
    Commercially-available de-icing spray is effective on frozen car locks. Carry a small bottle with you and keep extras at home and at the office. Remember, you won’t be able to access the de-icing spray if it’s kept in the glove compartment when your car locks freeze over.

To get an early jump on winter driving, you can also get more tips from Shift Into Winter BC’s website. BCAA is a partner of The Winter Driving Safety Alliance, a joint provincial initiative supported by organizations committed to improving the safety of drivers during the winter months.