Adjusting to Winter Conditions
Ontario winters can be challenging for motorists. Safety is a top priority of the Ministry of Transportation.
Every effort is made by the ministry and its contractors to keep highways safe and to provide efficient winter
maintenance services for the travelling public.
Weather conditions can be unpredictable, placing extra demands on your vehicle and your driving skills.
Ensure you are well prepared for winter roads and always adjust your driving speed to road and weather conditions.
Preparing for Driving in Winter
Stay alert, slow down, and stay in control — the three key elements of safe winter driving. Drive according to
highway and weather conditions.
Maintain a safe following distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to avoid situations where you may
have to brake suddenly.
Be Prepared — Is Your Vehicle Ready?
Get your vehicle winter-ready with a maintenance check-up. Don’t wait for winter to have your tires, battery, belts,
hoses, radiator, oil, lights, brakes, exhaust system, heater/defroster, wipers and ignition system checked.
Make sure that your vehicle is mechanically ready for winter conditions.
Keep your fuel tank sufficiently full — at least half a tank is recommended.
Always be sure you have sufficient windshield washer fluid in the reservoir. You may wish to keep an extra jug in the vehicle.
Clear snow and ice from all windows, lights, mirrors and the roof.
After starting your vehicle, wait for the fog to clear from the interior of the windows to ensure good visibility all around.
Have your tires checked before winter begins. Remember to check tire air pressure frequently, as it decreases in cold weather. Also, double-check the tightness of each tire’s wheel nuts to ensure your tires have not come loose; this is especially important for those who seasonally change their winter and all-season tires.
The condition of your vehicle’s tires is important. Worn or damaged tires can affect your ability to drive safely. It is best to replace tires before the tread depth reaches the regulatory minimum of 1.5 mm.*
Studies indicate that a 3 mm deep tread can stop a vehicle on wet pavement in a 25% shorter distance than a tire with a 1.5 mm deep tread. Drivers should check the manufacturer’s wear indicator mark on tires to see if they need replacing. All
tires have tread wear indicators, which are small bars of rubber found between the tread blocks of a tire. When the tread is worn flush with the tread wear indicators, the tire has reached its wear limit and must be replaced as it no longer provides sufficient traction in the rain or snow.
Regular or all-season tires, including wide and high-performance tires,
may be adequate in some areas, but may not be suitable for driving in the snowbelt regions of southern Ontario and throughout the north. If you live and drive in these areas, consider using winter tires. They provide better traction, braking and handling during frost, snow, slush, and particularly under icy conditions. Installing four winter tires provides greater control and stability. Never mix tires of different tread, size and construction. Also, consider traction and stability control options when selecting your next vehicle.
*Recommended tread depth from the Highway Traffic Act. Regulations 611 and 625.