Prepare Your Car for Safe Winter Driving

Tips for staying safe on the road during icy, snowy and cold conditions.

November 24, 2020
Kim Klenk
Written byKim KlenkDirector of Growth Marketing

Waiting until temperatures drop below freezing to prepare your car for winter can put you in unnecessary danger. Ice-covered roads and heavy snow make driving conditions hazardous for vehicles, especially poorly maintained ones. While safe driving can help you avoid a potential collision, a vehicle that's not prepared for colder temperatures puts you and others in harm's way.  Stay safe on the road this season by equipping your car for winter with these simple DIY car tips. 

Inspect your tires.

Treadwear and air pressure are the two areas that can cause trouble if left unchecked. If the tire tread is low or smooth, gripping the road will be tricky in even the best of driving conditions. When icy roads are added to the equation, your car is more likely to slide on the road even when you press the brakes. Add low air pressure to the mix, and those wet conditions make for the perfect snowstorm of an accident.

  • Tread - Take The Penny Test from Firestone. All it takes is a penny and five minutes to test all four tires.
  • Air Pressure - Check the owner's manual for the suggested tire pressure, which may differ during winter months.

Include your spare tire in your inspection. Double-check that your car jack is operational. 

Clean lenses and replace bulbs.

Winter rains and snow will affect your visibility. Don't let cloudy headlight lenses or burnt-out bulbs make matters worse. Auto part stores carry fluids, DIY cleaning kits, and replacement parts that can save you a trip to the mechanic.

Replace windshield wiper blades and fill your wiper fluid reservoir.

AutoZone recommends replacing wiper blades every 6 to 12 months. But, if yours show tell-tell signs of wear, such as vibration or excessive streaking, you may need to replace them sooner. You'll need working wipers so you can see the road and other vehicles during heavy rains and snowfall.

Top off your windshield wiper reservoir with a winter grade washer fluid. Depending on your geographic location, you may need to buy one that can handle deep-freeze temperatures. 

Check to make sure other items are functional.

You probably didn't use the heater or defroster during the summer or fall. Don't wait for the first cold snap of the season to find out that they no longer work. Test them now. 

Pack a winter emergency car kit.

Whether you're driving to work or traveling for the holidays, make sure you carry supplies that can help keep you safe if you find yourself stranded with your vehicle. Include a flashlight with extra batteries, blankets, gloves, and a cell phone charger. Food items, such as trail mix and bottled water, can also come in handy. Your kit should stay in your car all season long. 

Know when to seek professional services.

Don't feel you have to tackle tasks you aren't comfortable handling yourself. Car batteries, belts, hoses, oil filters, and other items might require skilled eyes and hands to ensure they are in good shape. An automotive care center also has the equipment and the know-how to quickly assess your vehicle's winter readiness. 

Routine car maintenance year-round can help ward off the hazards of winter weather. Follow the maintenance schedule outlined in the owner's manual for additional car safety tips that never go out of season. 

Consider adding Roadside Assistance coverage to your auto insurance policy.

Roadside Assistance coverage gives you access to emergency vehicle services when you need them, no matter where you are. Stuck in the snow? Need a jumpstart, tire change or a tow? With Roadside Assistance, get quick, expert help using the Branch mobile app or by phone. 

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