When the temperature starts to drop in Canada, a winter-friendly car can make a world of difference. This goes beyond winter tires. As car technology advances, features that were once considered premium are finding their way into introductory models. The benefit of living in a cold-weather country is that many car manufacturers offer winter-packages that conveniently bundle a list of helpful features. Some simply keep you warmer in the winter. Others, like winter tires, can also help keep you safe on the road.
We asked a Master Mechanic what car features you’ll need for winter driving in Canada, and which are nice to have.
Remote Car Starter
Perfect for frigid days, a remote starter does exactly what it sounds like. It allows you to remotely start your vehicle, instead of getting in a cold car. While helpful, many municipalities bylaws that prohibit idling, so it’s best to check if you can even use this feature first. Many luxury car brands have integrated this feature into an app, allowing you to do the same thing from your smartphone.
While nice-to-have, a remote starter is a car feature you can likely do without. If you don’t have other features like winter tires, a warmed-up car doesn’t matter much.
Believe it or not, a heated seat can warm you more quickly than a traditional car heater. Once a luxury item that was paired with leather trim, most automakers now offer it as an option with cloth upholstery—and some as a standard feature.
It’s a VERY nice-to-have car feature, and definitely at the top of our list if you can afford it. It’s not more important than winter tires, but it certainly makes driving more pleasant on a cold morning.
Heated Steering Wheel
If you’ve ever gripped a freezing steering wheel with no gloves on, you know it’s not a pleasant driving experience. Enter the heated steering wheel. Similar to the way heated seats work, an electric element runs along the wheel to warm it slightly. While we’re all for comfort, wearing a good pair of gloves while driving will do the trick, too.
Heated Side Mirrors
Heating elements—like the ones used to defrost your back window—are also found in some vehicle’s side mirrors. Sometimes, a thick sheet of ice can form over mirrors after a storm making driving conditions extremely dangerous. Sometimes it’s next to impossible to remove ice on your mirrors, and this feature will surely do the trick.
Windshield Wiper Heaters
There’s nothing worse than flicking the switch to clean your windshield and getting no washer fluid because it’s frozen over. Some cars have a built-in solution to this problem: an electric heating element under the wiper blades, and near the jets, to melt ice. If your car doesn’t have this feature, you should always check your vehicle before you drive to ensure your wipers and washer fluid are working.
Some luxury car models also feature headlight wipers to keep them clear while driving. Both are helpful features that help make winter driving easier if you’re caught in a storm.
Like your back windows but not as prominent, heated windshields have a series of squiggly lines that transfer the heat to the surface of the glass. While the idea of never having to clear your windshield manually again may sound fantastic, in reality, this feature can be quite distracting while driving. We would pass on this feature. A strong defroster and some good snowbrush can do the trick.
An Emergency Car Kit
If you ever get stuck or your car breaks down in a snowstorm, you’ll need to have the essentials to get back on the road or wait for help. Things like salt, a candle, a blanket, jumper cables, and a flashlight could save your life, and they don’t take much effort to pack. For a complete list of items to keep in your car during the winter, please visit the official Government of Canada advisory. If you make sure you have one thing in your car this winter, make it an emergency kit.
Although not mandated by law, all provincial governments advise Canadians to use winter tires—and so do we. By law, Ontario insurance companies must provide a rate reduction if you install winter tires, so be sure to look into the incentives yours offers. It’s best to get winter tires on before the first snowfall to avoid the rush. Your local Master Mechanic is always happy to help!
Remember: everyone’s preferences and threshold for cold is different. It’s best to test out each feature for yourself to see if it’s something you need. If you have any questions about winter car features or want to make sure your vehicle is road-ready for the winter, contact your local Master Mechanic today!