Preparing and Stocking Up for Winter Driving

Winter months are beautiful in many parts of the country, but you should not let that beauty distract you. Driving conditions quickly worsen during the colder months, with ice and snow becoming perilous for the unprepared driver. A coat of fresh snow over an icy surface can lead to spinouts and accidents, and if you are not prepared, you could be left stranded on a roadway for hours, with dangers increasing by the second.

Instead of worrying about potential hazards, consider preparing your car for the winter ahead. The remainder of this blog will describe ways to prep your car for winter driving and explain how to establish an emergency kit for those potential avoidable disasters.

Check Tread Depth and Tire Pressure

Depending on the climate and winter conditions of the state you live in, you might need to replace your tires with winter tires. However, if you do not want to go to the extra expense, consider making the most of the tires you have.

Tire pressure and tread depth are the keys to ensuring that your tires operate the way they are supposed to. You want to check the owner’s manual to ensure that your tires meet the tire pressure requirements of the vehicle. You can check this by purchasing a pressure gauge at a local auto parts store.

With your tire pressure correct, check the treads using the Lincoln test. You want to take a penny and insert it into one of the treads with Lincoln’s heading pointed in the direction of the tire wall. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it is likely time to replace your tires.

Use Winter Windshield Wiper Fluid

If you never swap your windshield wiper fluid in the winter, you don’t know what your missing. Most people do not realize that regular wiper fluid can freeze on contact with the windshield in the winter, making it nearly useless. Windshield wiper fluid optimized for the winter weather, however, helps to melt the ice on the window, and it is made to withstand lower temperatures, making it the best option for colder climates.

Make Sure Antifreeze and Engine Coolant Levels Are Sufficient

Engine coolant and antifreeze are essential to keeping your car running properly. If you do not maintain adequate levels in the winter, especially during frigid days and nights, your engine can freeze up, leaving you stranded. To prevent this problem, consider purchasing a kit from an auto parts store to check the levels and the mixture, ensuring your car is capable of running at optimal performance during the winter.

Use a Winter-Grade Oil

Oil viscosity relates to the thickness of an oil. For example, a 10W-30 is a higher viscosity than a 5W-30. In the winter, you typically want a thinner or lower viscosity oil, allowing the fluid to go through the engine with ease. Before switching your oil, you might want to talk to your mechanic.

Prepare an Emergency Box or Bag

Because you can never be too cautious, it is an excellent idea to have an emergency box or bag in your car at all times. You should carry at least the following items:

  • Road flares

  • Flashlight

  • First aid kit

  • Warm clothes

  • Extra gloves

  • Blankets

  • Ice scraper

  • Radio

  • Bags of sand

  • Charged cell phone

  • High-energy snacks

Is your car ready for the winter? Leave a comment with your favorite prepping tip for winter driving.