Accessories for Winter

Car accidents and stranded or stalled vehicles are all unfortunate but common occurrences during the winter months. Hazardous issues on the road may be caused by the weather, car maintenance issues, other drivers on the road or a combination of factors. As a result, these problems can potentially affect any driver on the road. While there's no one hundred percent certain way to avoid winter car problems or incidents, there are steps that drivers can take to reduce the risk. By properly preparing themselves for potential car related problems, drivers can better ensure the safety of not only themselves, but their passengers as well.

Winter Car Preparation

The best way to prevent a winter automotive emergency is to have the right seasonal maintenance performed. One of the first things that drivers think about when it comes to winter car care is the antifreeze or coolant. Typically, a vehicle's coolant level is checked during its routine maintenance; however, it is wise to have it checked again in the fall, prior to winter . This may be done by a professional or the car owner may use an antifreeze tester to check the antifreeze level his or herself. When adding antifreeze the product that offers the best protection is a blend of half antifreeze and half water. Car owners mustn't wait or put off oil changes as cold weather can negatively affect and thicken oil. When having one's oil changed, it should be switched to a winter weight oil for the season.

Without a healthy, charged battery, a vehicle cannot drive. Unfortunately, the cold winter weather is exceptionally hard on batteries and older ones may not survive the winter without replacement. To avoid getting stuck due to a dead battery, drivers should have taken their car to have its battery load tested. If the batter is losing its charge it should be replaced. Another way to help one's battery is to remove any corrosion from the battery using a baking soda and water mixture. To ensure good visibility, windshield wiper blades should be replaced every six months; for the winter, switch to winter blades. The windshield wiper fluid is susceptible to freezing in areas with freezing temperatures and the CDC recommends the use of a wintertime mix wiper fluid.

Tires give a car the ability to move and help to keep passenger vehicles firmly on the road. For most people, their cars are using all-season or performance tires. While all-season tires work well for winter weather, they won't provide maximum control in areas that experience snow and icy conditions. Snow tires provide better traction during bad winter weather, and are the ideal choice for safe winter driving. Additional tire care involves verifying that the tires have enough tread and that they are properly inflated. A ten degree drop in weather can cause car tires to drop by one pound per square inch (psi). Each tire is imprinted by the manufacturer with its correct psi number. The driver of the vehicle can use a tire gauge to measure the pressure of the tire to ensure that it matches the recommended psi. If the air pressure is low, the tires can be filled either professionally or at air pumps found at some gas stations. Low tread indicates a bald or balding tire, which cannot grip the road and can result in cars slipping in bad weather. To check the tread, a simple test using a penny can quickly and easily indicate whether tires are worn beyond what is safe. The penny is placed between the treads of the tire so that the president's head is upside down. If the top portion of his head is blocked by the tread, the tires are safe for continued use. If the uppermost part of his head is visible, the tires are too low and need immediate replacing.

In places with extreme cold, moisture in the gas tank can freeze and turn into ice. A driver can avoid this by keeping the tank as full as possible. Car owners shouldn't forget their brakes when preparing their car for the winter. To ensure that the brakes are working properly and are in good condition, drivers will need to have the brakes checked by a professional who will check the pads and linings. Lastly, check all the exterior and interior lights to ensure that they are working. Although it is listed last, this is as critical as any maintenance need.

Things to Keep in Your Car

Keeping a roadside emergency kit of supplies in one's car is both the smart and responsible thing for drivers to do. While carrying an emergency kit year round is sound advice, there are certain adjustments that should be made to make it winter worthy. If a car should become stuck in snow or mud, a person will need a shovel and cat litter or sand. The sand and litter may sound unusual, but they can help create traction when needed. A rain slicker or jacket with a hood should also be on hand to help keep the driver dry when standing outside in wet weather. An extra pair of gloves can help protect hands from the cold. If a car stalls, is in an accident or becomes stranded for any reason, drivers will want to ensure that they are visible to other drivers on the road. Flares and emergency triangles must be kept in the car for this purpose. In the event that a driver becomes stranded it is necessary to have non-perishable foods on hand and bottled water. This is particularly important if driving in areas with poor cellular reception or on routes that are low-traffic. Keep a blanket and additional sweaters packed to help with warmth. Other items that should be kept in the car include jumper cables for use if the car's battery dies, a flashlight, and an extra pack of new batteries. An ice scraper and snow brush are items that should be kept in the cars of people who live in freezing temperatures, although their use isn't strictly for emergency purposes. Although it isn't an item that will be kept exclusively in the car's emergency kit, carrying a cellphone is critical in the event of an emergency. Before leaving on a trip, particularly when traveling a significant distance, a driver should fully charge his or her phone to avoid a dead battery when it is needed the most.

  • Ten Simple Ways to Get Your Car Ready for Winter: An article on the NBC News Today Money website that provides winter maintenance tips for drivers.
  • Winter Driving Vehicle Maintenance: On this page readers will find advice on winter vehicle maintenance, fuel economy, and driving smarter during the winter.
  • CNY Winter Car Care: An article that reviews how New Yorkers prepare their vehicles for winter driving. The article includes information on windshield protection, checking tires, and more.
  • Prepare Your Car for Winter Weather: A brief list of winter automotive maintenance needs. Readers will also find a link that will take them to a PDF checklist that can be downloaded.
  • Are You Prepared for Winter? Winter Car Care Tips: On this page readers have two sections of information to review. The first section includes winter car care tips, while the second section discusses what to keep in a winter survival kit.
  • Winter Driving: Tips to Prepare for Winter Driving: This link opens up a PDF brochure on winter driving. The brochure includes information about preparing the car for winter driving and weather conditions. It also includes what to carry inside the vehicle.
  • Getting Your Vehicle Ready for Winter: Click on this link for a lengthy list of steps needed to prepare one's car for the winter.
  • Driving Safety Tips - Driving in Snow and Ice: This link includes information regarding what is needed in a car in the event that it is stranded.
  • Winter Safety Tips for Motorists: In this PDF document readers will find car care tips for the winter and a list of supplies that should be carried in the car.
  • Winter Safety Tips for the Vehicle: Click on this link for a list of items that should be carried in an emergency kit during the winter. Driving and winter maintenance tips are also on this page.
  • Winter Driving Safety: This PDF brochure includes important information about winter driving. It includes car maintenance and information about an emergency safety kit for the car.
  • Nine Winter Car Maintenance Tips: Kiplinger magazine lists nine tips regarding car maintenance for the winter.
  • Winter Weather Car Prep Tips: This is a link to Fox News which lists the winter weather care needed to prepare a vehicle for winter.
  • Tire Tread: The website teaches drivers how to accurately check their car tires using a penny.
  • Get Prepared - Winter Driving: This link is from the government of Canada website. Readers will find helpful information about preparing their cars for snow and other winter weather conditions. The site also discusses what to carry in vehicles during the winter.
  • Foul Weather Driving: A list of supplies needed for a winter emergency supply kit.