Skip to main content

Boreal Emergency Preparedness Portal

How to Prep Your Car for Winter

Nov 23, 2020 08:18AM ● By Editor

Photo: The Weather Channel


By Ally Hirschlag from the Weather Channel - Posted: November 23, 2020


Driving during or right after a winter storm can be challenging on many levels. Your tires can slip, ice and snow can get lodged in your windshield wipers rendering them virtually useless, and poor visibility can lead to you getting trapped in a snowbank — just to name a few un-fun possibilities. 

The best way to mitigate what winter weather can do to your vehicle is to get ahead of it before that weather hits. You can easily do this prep in a day, and once it's done, you'll have the peace of mind that your car is as safe and ready as it can be for those cold, snowy, icy months to come. 

Take your car in for maintenance 

(Getty Images/Johner Images)

If it's about time for your car's regular maintenance, take it in before winter weather hits to make sure everything under the hood is operating at tip top levels. That means getting brakes and hoses checked and all liquids changed/topped off, especially your coolant. During extreme cold, coolant (antifreeze) can generate an electrical current, which can actually do damage to your coolant system overtime. To avoid having to get that fixed or replaced down the line, best to get it flushed out now and replaced with fresh coolant (or rather a 50/50 coolant/water ratio). 

Check your tires

(Getty Images/Massimo Calmonte (www.massimocalmonte.it))

Since you'll already be at the shop, you'll want to get your tires rotated and checked. Make sure the interior pressure is good and the tire tread isn't too low (you definitely don't want to be driving on bald tires in the snow and ice). If you live in an area that sees a lot of snow and ice, you'll want to consider swapping out your regular tires for snow tires which have deep treads to keep you from slipping in snowy, icy conditions. They're also made of low-temperature-resilient rubber compounds so they resist cracking and have better grip, which you'll want when using your breaks in a snow storm. 

Protect your car's interior

(Getty Images/Massimo Calmonte (www.massimocalmonte.it))

Winter weather is messy. When you get in and out of your car after you've been walking through snow and slush, dirty, salt-infused water will build up on the floor of your car, leaving it looking pretty worse for wear come the spring. You can prevent this weather damage by putting in all-weather, rubber floor mats. They're easy to install, and if they get filthy, you can simply take them out and hose them off. 

Pack a winter weather emergency kit 

(Getty Images/studiocasper)

If you're planning on any long drives this winter, you never know when a powerful snowstorm might hit and force you to wait it out on the side of the road. Should that happen, you'll want to be prepared with necessities to stay warm, hydrated and safe until the storm subsides or help arrives. Here are some things to get you started:

A first-aid kit

A small knife

Water-proof matches

A bag of sand or kitty litter to help create traction if you get stuck in a ditch

A flashlight and road flares so help can find you if it's dark

An ice scraper and a bottle of premixed alcohol and water (two parts to one part) to help melt stubborn ice 

An auxiliary gas can so you can keep the heat running should your primary tank run out

A shovel in case you need to dig yourself out of a snowdrift 

Chains in case you need to be pulled from a snowdrift

Several warm blankets, warm clothes and water-proof gloves/mittens

A crank radio

A battery charger for cell phones

Bottled water (enough for at least 24 hours)

Jumper cables

Non-perishable food (again, enough for at least 24 hours)

Winterize your windshield

(Getty Images/R.Tsubin)

Poor visibility during a winter storm coupled with a windshield you can't clearly see through is a recipe for disaster. You can combat an icy, snowy windshield with wiper fluid that's designed to break down frozen precipitation faster, which should help keep your view much clearer. Couple that with winter wiper blades meant for pushing heavy snow out of the way, and you'll be in business. 

Have your battery tested

(Getty Images/Zero Creatives)

This should be something your mechanic does during a routine inspection anyway, but we stress the importance of it, because a well-functioning battery could save your life if you get stuck in your car during a storm. And if you regularly park your car outside, it'll prevent those frustrating calls to AAA to get your car jumped. 

If you do get stranded in a storm

(Getty Images/BanksPhotos)

First things first: don't panic. Take a breath and call for help (dial 911 if you're injured or in immediate danger). Don't leave your car unless you can't reach help by phone, you know where you are and how close you are to assistance. Light two flares and set them up at either end of your vehicle. Take out your extra clothes and blankets and put them on to stay warm. If you have a good amount of gas in the tank, run your engine for 10 minutes every hour you're waiting to stay warm. Keep the windows rolled up except for one that you keep open a crack so ice doesn't seal up your car. Make sure you stay hydrated, and try and stay awake — it'll help keep your blood circulating better than if you fall asleep.


To read the original post and see more weather related reporting, follow this link to the Weather Channel website.  https://weather.com/safety/winter/news/2019-10-28-how-prep-your-car-winter

Upcoming Events Near You

No Events in the next 21 days.

CodeRed