By 2.4 min read

Winter is coming with cold temperatures, fog, snow and ice. Now is the time to prepare your vehicle for hazardous conditions and treacherous driving.

Try these 6 tips to be ready:

1. Ensure fluids are at the proper levels

Check your antifreeze levels and ensure it’s rated for the temperatures in your area of the country. If the antifreeze is over five years old, you may want to have it drained and new fluid added (check your owner’s manual for recommendations).

Even though you use windshield washer fluid year-round, you’ll typically use more in winter because of the salt and chemicals on the roads. Use de-icing washer fluid rated for your temperatures (e.g., -30 F), top off the fluid levels frequently and include the rear window reservoir if you have a rear window wiper system.

2. Clean and inspect exterior and interior lights

The sun sets earlier in winter, and your vehicle lights must work correctly. Test all lights and replace non-functioning interior or exterior bulbs. Clean all lamp shields and inspect them for cracks. See a mechanic to repair any defects before the freezing weather leads to further cracking.

3. Have brakes and steering systems inspected

These systems must operate at optimal levels to prevent a collision or rollover. A mechanic should inspect your brake pads, brake fluids, and steering system and fluids.

4. Check tire pressure weekly

Ensure your tire pressure is at the recommended pounds per square inch (psi). Tire pressure can change one pound per square inch for every nine-degree Fahrenheit change in temperature. Sudden temperature drops can result in underinflated tires.

Refer to your owner’s manual or check the driver’s side door placard for the correct PSI for your vehicle. (Do not rely on PSI ratings embossed on the tire.) Remember to check your spare tire, too.

Check your state’s tire chain requirements before traveling in a snow-prone area.

5. Stock up for winter

Although a first-aid kit, flashlight and road flares are essentials, you should also have these for winter months:

  • Ice scraper
  • Snowbrush
  • Collapsible trunk shovel
  • Bag of cat litter, sand or flattened cardboard boxes (for traction if you’re stuck)

6. Prepare for the unexpected

For severe weather or long trips, consider keeping these additional items in your car:

  • 48-hour supply of drinks and high-energy snacks
  • Extra flashlight batteries
  • Device charger with multi-power adapters
  • Car charging cables
  • Jumper cables
  • Blankets and warm clothing
  • Tire puncture repair kit
  • Candle in a tin
  • Matches or a lighter

If you are traveling with children, bringing along books, cards or games to keep them entertained is a clever idea.

Be ready for emergencies

Follow these tips and maintain slower driving speeds and a safe stopping distance during extreme weather. It’s better to take your time than to rush and cause an accident. Nothing is worth risking the health and safety of yourself and your loved ones. Drive safe out there!

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