WHEN winter's grey mist descends on a lonely highway, stifling the dim headlights in the rearview mirror and exacerbating the limited visibility caused by pouring rain, there are a few basic things drivers can do to make sure they get wherever they're going safely.
"Number one is to have good wiper blades," says James Daniels, the owner-operator of Scan Automotive, located on Third Street East in North Vancouver. "A lot of people seem to think that their wiper blades are a lot newer than they usually are."
Depending on the severity of weather changes from one season to the next, replacing wiper blades before the mercury dips in December can be a wise idea.
"They've dried out over the course of a warm summer so the rubber gets hard and doesn't wipe the window as well as it should," explains Daniels.
However, if you're replacing the wiper blades more often than you used to, the problem may be the windshield itself.
"As windshields get older they get pitted. Basically they get sandblasted by sand and rocks and small pebbles getting kicked up off the road and it puts these little tiny chips in the window and then those eat wiper blades," says Daniels.
Depending on the damage sustained by the windshield, looking for a replacement may be a good idea in the long run.
Most car owners are happy to take out a bucket and sponge in July and August, but cleaning the car in November and December can seem like an arduous task. However, wiping down the headlights can keep the road ahead looking brighter, according to Daniels.
When stopping for gas, Daniels recommends motorists take a squeegee to their headlights before heading back on the road.
While it's not a common problem, Daniels also recommends making sure the car's air conditioning is in good working order.
"If you get in and out of the car and you're wet, you end up with condensation because outside is cold and then you turn on the heater inside and it starts to evaporate all the water in the car and that'll condense on the inside windows, so air conditioning is really critical to have functioning especially in a really, really wet climate like ours. That will make a big difference in keeping the windows defogged," he says.
Stamping off the snow before climbing in the car can also play a part in keeping the windows clear, according to Daniels.
"Obviously if you get in the car with a lot of snow on you, that takes a lot of time to evaporate, so the more water and snow you track into a car, the harder it's going to be for that defog to keep the windows clear."
One of the major mistakes some driver's make is in trying to splash the frost off their cars, according to Daniels.
"I see a lot of customers, they go out and they take a big pail of hot water and throw it on the car to try to melt all the frost and the snow," says Daniels. "A rapid temperature change, especially if you have frozen water on a piece of glass, can lead to the windows breaking; so good idea not to do that. Never mind that once that hot water cools down and freezes, it turns into a big ice cube."
That temperature change can be a problem for windshield wipers, locks, and door seals, according to Daniels.
Cleaning the snow off your car, checking the weather report, and taking your foot off the gas pedal can also help keep you safe this winter.