Winter and winter driving. We all have a little bit of a love/hate relationship with it. The movies make it look like a magical time while our experiences often say otherwise: roads with no lanes, snow-covered stop signs, black ice, a dead car battery, or accidents. It’s even worse if you’re a first-timer to wintry weather and driving conditions. As a result, we’ve compiled a list of must-dos for winter weather and winter driving.
Pack a Roadside Emergency Kit
Include the following items:
- Jumper cables
- Flares, reflective material, or reflectors
- Kitty litter/salt/sand for traction or ice melt
- A flash light (and extra batteries)
- A small snow shovel
- A first-aid kit
Pack a Personal Emergency Kit
In this kit, you should have:
- Extra medication
- Food and snacks such as mixed nuts, crackers, or granola bars
- A warm blanket
- Bottle of water
- A portable phone charger
- Hat and gloves
- Hand warmers
Pack an Ice Scraper
- Snow Pro Tip: scrapers with long handles, a blade, and a brush are most useful!
Get Your Car Tuned-Up
Whether you do this yourself, or you take it to a mechanic, perform the following checks on your vehicle:
- Tire Tread
- The U.S. Department of Transportation recommends replacing tires when they reach 2/32” depth of tread at the most. If you’re at this or even close to it, consider replacing your tires.
- Tire Pressure
- Maintain your tire pressure at the manufacturer recommended PSI.
- Vehicle Fluids: Oil, Antifreeze/Coolant, Windshield Wiper Fluid
- Refill these if they are low and/or perform a fluid change, if needed.
- Inspect your battery. Is there wear and tear or corrosion? Did you have troubles with it last year? It might be time to clean it or get a new one.
- Wipers & Wiper Blades
- Check that the wiper blades are in good condition and work well to clear your window. If not, replace them. Snow and ice are harder to clear than rain.
- Brakes, Heater, Defroster, Belts, Hoses, Lights
- A general check of these to ensure they are in good condition and working as they should will go a long way to keeping you free of freezing on the side of the road, wondering what in the world is wrong.
Consider Roadside Assistance
- Check to see if you already have this through your insurance or secure it through AAA (Triple A). Then put the phone number in your phone to ensure you have easy access to it, if you need it!
Once you’ve done all that and winter hits, keep the following items in mind:
- Plan ahead. Give yourself more time when traveling somewhere. Rushing is hazardous to yourself as well as the others on the road.
- Check the weather before you go. Being aware of what you could encounter helps you plan before it happens.
- Don’t let your tank go dry. Try to keep at least ½ a tank of gas in your vehicle at all times.
- Don’t use cruise control.
With all that said, below are helpful links for even more tips & tricks on winter driving:
About the Author
Kim Mooney, Technical Manager & Coach