Many young drivers will hit the roads this winter season, some for the first time. In fact, there are almost 3 million drivers in Canada between the ages of 16 and 24. That's why it's important for parents to prepare teenagers and young drivers for the difficult winter months, by making sure their vehicles are properly maintained and they've been given helpful instructions and well-stocked emergency kits.

First and foremost, have their vehicles checked thoroughly. Belts, hoses, water pumps, batteries and spark plugs need to be properly maintained. Winter tends to magnify any problems a vehicle might have. One simple routine that helps maintain fuel efficiency and engine performance is spark plug maintenance.

Once a thorough under-the-hood inspection is complete, make sure your new driver checks their tire tread and windshield wipers as well as fluid levels like washer solvent and antifreeze. Many motorists are under the impression that antifreeze is only needed in the warmer season to avoid overheating, but the proper mixture is necessary to avoid engine freeze-ups in frigid temperatures. A recommended concentration of 50% solution protects your vehicle down to –36.8C. Antifreeze can be adjusted to give protection down to –64.4C if it is required.

Windshield wipers and washer fluid are also vital. It's a good idea to switch to a winter wiper blade. They are more durable and designed to handle the snow and ice better than a regular blade. If wipers aren't working properly or if there's a lack of fluid in the reservoir, the combination of salt, ice and sleet may reduce the driver's ability to see other vehicles or objects in the road. Use a concentrated washer fluid additive designed specifically for cold weather driving. Unlike many "blue" washer fluids that aren't as effective in extreme cold, this concentrated deicer melts frost and light ice and boosts the freeze protection of your regular washer fluid. It also guards against re-freeze on windshields.

Although these preventative maintenance tips do help, they by no means serve as a complete deterrent to potential problems. Prepare for a roadside emergency with a special winter kit that includes:

  • A cell phone – for calling you in case of emergency
  • A portable jump starter – in case of a dead battery, they won't be stranded alone in the cold
  • A flashlight and extra batteries
  • Emergency flares – so other motorists can see their vehicle
  • Sand bags – highly recommended for vehicles with rear-wheel drive
  • A tire inflator and sealer
  • Warm clothes and blankets
  • Extra de-icer washer fluid and a spray de-icer
  • Ice scraper with a snow brush
  • Tire traction product
  • Shovel
Even though young people today are always on the go, emphasize the significance of these safety tips. It may change what could be a disastrous situation into a simple inconvenience.

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Posted 11:32 AM  View Comments

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