Modes of Transportation

Visibility When Temperatures are Below Freezing

Make sure that you can see clearly in winter, both before setting out and while you are driving. Get out your snow brush and ice scraper and check that your headlights and windshield wipers are in good condition.

Ensuring the best possible visibility

After a snowfall or freezing rain, you should completely clear your windshield, side and rear windows, front and rear lights, as well as rearview mirrors. Don’t forget to clear the roof of the car, because if pieces of snow or ice come free, they could hinder your visibility and constitute a hazard for other drivers. 

Six recommendations to maximize visibility when temperatures are below freezing

1. Effective windshield wipers

Replace your windshield wipers at the first signs of wear. Damaged wipers lose their effectiveness and can make driving hazardous. They could also scratch your windshield.

It is time to replace your wipers when:

  • they leave stripes or a film, or they skip an area on your windshield
  • the blades jerk or make noise
  • the blades are cracked, torn or have an irregular surface

In winter, use windshield wipers that are designed for difficult conditions. Better yet, get windshield wipers with a built-in wear indicator.

2. New wipers each year

Wiper blades get worn out, even if they are not used for long periods.

The best time to change your wipers is fall. During the summer, heat and sunlight cause the rubber in the blades to wear out prematurely.

To increase your safety, install new wipers before rainy fall weather starts or before the beginning of harsh winter conditions.

3. Wipers that follow the curve of the windshield

In winter, wipers can freeze and stop following the curve of your windshield. They can also get stuck on your windshield or rear window.

To avoid unpleasant surprises:

  • switch on the windshield defogger (set the temperature to maximum heat). Wait for the blades to thaw before activating the wipers
  • once the ice has started to melt, try gently lifting the wipers from the windshield, then remove the ice from the windshield

If you aren't careful:

  • you risk damaging your wiper blades if you try lifting them from the windshield too soon
  • if you drive off before freeing the blades, you might realize that your wipers are still stuck to your windshield or that they don't function properly

4. A vehicle equipped with winter accessories to ensure your safety

Some car manufacturers offer models equipped with accessories specially adapted to our harsh winters.

A vehicle equipped with a windshield wiper de-icer may be a very interesting option, since it accelerates de-icing. It also prevents ice from forming on your wipers while you are driving. Keep this in mind next time you change cars!

5. Stopping in a safe place to remove accumulations

While you are driving, snow, ice, slush and salt can accumulate on your windshield, wipers, windows, mirrors, lights and headlights… This hinders your visibility and jeopardizes your safety!

When this happens, stop in a safe place as soon as you can (switch on your hazard lights if need be) and remove the accumulations. Not only are these accumulations dangerous when driving, but they can also damage your wipers' motor, which in turn can result in costly unplanned repairs.

6. A full reservoir of washer fluid and a winter kit

Equip your vehicle with a winter kit during the winter months, especially if you are making long trips or are travelling away from urban centres. You never know what the road has in store for you…

Your winter kit should include, at a minimum:

  • a shovel
  • a snow brush
  • an ice scraper
  • a full container of winter washer fluid

Last update: May 27, 2022