Preparing for Winter Weather Driving

Posted by: Connor Johnson - December 5, 2013

Many of you out there may have never driven during snowy conditions. But moving to new places for a job or internship may expose you to something you’ve never quite experienced before. Here are a few tips to get yourself and your car prepared for potentially dangerous winter weather driving.

First and foremost, you can combat rough winter weather by being properly prepared. Packing a winter safety kit is essential should you have to pull over to the side of the road and wait out a storm (not to scare you, but these things do happen!). A few suggestions of what should be included in the “Winter Emergency Survival Kit” include:

  • Blankets to keep warm if trapped in a drift or waiting out a blizzard
  • A spare charged cell phone (All cell phones, whether activated or not, are able to dial 911)
  • Flares to help rescuers see you in a white-out storm
  • Wind-up or battery-powered radio with extra batteries to stay abreast of weather conditions if stranded
  • First aid kit in the event someone is hurt during an accident
  • Extra winter clothes in case you need to travel on foot for help
  • Jumper cables to start dead batteries after below freezing temperature nights
  • Bag of sand to add weight to your car (more traction) and for spreading under tires to help with traction
  • Ice scraper
  • Dried foods (Granola, beef jerky, crackers, etc.)
  • Emergency tire sealant to get you to the next filling station instead of stranded on the side of the road
  • Flashlight with extra batteries to see better at night in a storm and also help signal to rescuers
  • Tool kit to fix minor car repairs

In addition to preparing a “Winter Weather Survival Kit”, check out the shape of your car. As you know, cold temperatures make air contract, so check your tire pressure frequently. Check the car battery for damage (its ability to function could be huge if you get stranded) and swap out your antifreeze. Use a good ethylene glycol based antifreeze that is 60 percent coolant to 40 percent water. This can protect your engine even if it gets down to -34 F. Also, use the proper kind of oil for cold weather. This means using thinner oil, which often flows more quickly in colder weather. Check your owner’s manual for guidance on this. You can do all this yourself, but for many, the best solution is to schedule regular maintenance at an auto shop.

Finally, if you get stranded in treacherous winter weather, here are some critical tips if you are in your car or elsewhere.