As the weather starts getting cooler, it’s a good idea to prepare your car for winter. Even if you don’t switch to snow tires, there are a few proactive steps you can take to make sure you, your passengers and your vehicle as as safe as possible. Here are some tips for winterizing your car.
Check your tire pressure
If you live somewhere that regularly gets snow and don’t opt to put snow tires on each winter season, at least make sure that yours are properly inflated. As it turns out, cold weather causes air pressure in your tires to drop. According to the Art of Manliness:
For every 10 degree drop in temperature, your tire’s air pressure will drop about 1psi. A properly inflated tire ensures the best possible contact between the road and the tires which is essential for safe traction when driving in wintry conditions.
Get a snow/ice scraper
Chances are you probably have a snow and ice scraper sitting around somewhere in your closet or basement (or possibly your trunk) leftover from previous years. Find it and make sure it’s intact and easily accessible in your car. Otherwise, treat yourself to a new one.
Put on all-weather windshield wipers
Switch out your regular wiper blades for ones designed to handle rain, sleet, snow and ice. And while you’re at it, refill your wiper fluid—specifically to one that works well in freezing temperatures.
Check your battery
Not only is cold weather a drain on your battery, but your engine requires more battery power to start on a cold day. Avoid getting stuck by having a mechanic check your battery level—or do it yourself with a battery tester.
Put together an emergency kit
What would you need if you got stuck somewhere in the snow and/or freezing temperatures? There are the basics—like a first aid kit, blankets and jumper cables—but there are plenty of other options to consider, from hand-warming gel packs to an extra backup battery for your cell phone. For some inspiration, check out what our readers keep in their cars.
This article was originally published in November 2010 and updated on October 21, 2020 by Elizabeth Yuko to provide additional tips, update outdated links, add a new header photo and align the content with current Lifehacker style.