How To Prepare for Winter Driving

We’ve only just entered Fall, but for some parts of the country, winter weather is just around the corner. While freezing rain, snow, and ice make all tasks more difficult and uncomfortable, they are especially hazardous for anyone on the roads. Preparing your vehicles early can prevent unnecessary accidents and becoming stranded on the side of the road. Dedicate the time and money now to ensure your safety all winter long.

Put Together a Winter Supply Kit

While you can always improvise and use an old library card as an ice scraper, your best bet is to put together a complete winter supply kit. This kit should be put in your trunk now, and not come out until spring.

Items you’ll want to include in your kit are:

  • Flashlight
  • Road Flares
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Blankets
  • A change of warm clothes for the driver (including fresh socks)
  • Extra pairs of gloves
  • A Radio
  • Bag of sand or kitty litter (for traction)
  • Ice Scrapers
  • Snacks (protein bars, granola bars, nuts, jerky)
  • Shovel

While some of these may sound extreme, imagine your typical drive home. Chances are that you pass several areas in which you could careen off the road and be stuck for at least an hour until help arrives and frees you. If snow is falling heavily, that wait time could be extended several times over. You won’t want to keep your car running as you wait, and you’ll need to stay warm and dry.

Check Your Tires

Check your tire pressure and tread depth to ensure that your tires are ready for the tough winter weather. If any of your tires are below the recommended PSI, fill them up at your local gas station.

You can check your tread depth by holding a penny upright in your tire treads; if you can see Lincoln’s head, it’s time for new tires. Don’t wait to replace your tires – this is a worthwhile investment in your safety.

If you live in an especially northern or mountainous area that is prone to frequent and severe winter storms, consider purchasing snow tires. These will lower your miles per gallon, so only use these when absolutely necessary.

Check and Top Off Fluids

Engine coolant and antifreeze should be checked and topped off prior to the first winter storm. Make sure your car is up to date on oil changes, and switch to a thinner, winter-grade oil at your next change. Switching to a winter windshield wiper fluid will also help to prevent freezing on your windshield.

Have Your Heater Fixed

If you’ve been waiting to have your heater, or any other repairs done to your car, now is the time to do them. Not only do you want your car operating at its best, but you don’t want to be without heat if you find yourself stranded.

You may consider your vehicle just a way to get from point A to point B and be reluctant to spend extra money on it, but as winter approaches it’s important that you maintain the integrity of your vehicle. Your safety will already be compromised by the weather and other drivers, so put yourself in the best position possible given the circumstances.