How To Prepare Your Car For Winter Driving

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How to Prepare Your Car For Winter Driving | KeatingBartlett.com

The holidays are a popular time for people to travel. Those who live far from family and friends are packing up their cars and heading home to celebrate the holidays. But all that traveling can really take a toll on your car. I am the queen of owning cars that have some sort of car issue. From failed transmissions to broken brakes to really crappy tires. Something always goes wrong with every car I own (my current one is doing good so far…*knock on wood*). I’ve learned from past experience that it is so incredibly important to make sure your car is always taken care of so that you can prevent any major issues while you’re on the road. Especially in the winter months for those of you who live further north. The last thing you want in the middle of a road trip is for your transmission to go or for your car to run out of oil. So here are five things you should do to prepare your car for winter driving.

SWITCH TO WINTER TIRES.

If you’re traveling through the northern states, this is especially important. Make sure your car is equipped with the right tires. Summer tires just aren’t going to handle as well in the snow as winter tires would. Hence why they’re two different types of tires. All-season tires are pretty good as well, but being raised in Maine, I much prefer to have those winter tires. Not only is it important to have good tires on your car, it’s also really important to make sure you have a back up tire as well as the equipment needed to change a tire if needed. I’ve had way too many tires pop on me so it’s crucial that there’s always a backup in my car. And at this point, I know how to change it without assistance. This is a really great skill to learn if you haven’t already!

How to Prepare Your Car For Winter Driving | KeatingBartlett.com

HAVE AN EMERGENCY CAR KIT.

These kits can be picked up at any auto store or even the auto department of your local Walmart. Everyone should have this in their car regardless of the season, but in the winter months, it can be so much easier to get into an accident or have something go wrong with your car. So it makes having an emergency kit even more crucial. Your kit should include everything you can think of: flares, road hazard markers, jumper cables, flashlights with backup batteries, matches or a lighter, candles, a first aid kit, a small tool kit, a jack, etc. It’s also good to have things like snacks and extra water as well just in case! Even blankets if your car was to break down and you were left waiting for a tow truck in the cold. Think ahead and prepare for anything and everything!

SWITCH TO WINTER WIPER BLADES.

I actually had no idea these were a thing until last winter. Apparently they make winter wiper blades that are better able to cut through ice and snow which is super awesome. Even if you don’t want to spend the money on winter wiper blades, it’s still good to make sure your wiper blades are in good working condition. They get worn after a while so if they’re super worn then they’re just not going to work as well as brand new ones would.

How to Prepare Your Car For Winter Driving | KeatingBartlett.com

GET THE HEATER CHECKED.

I’ve had my heater stop working in the middle of winter and I promise you, you don’t want this to happen to you! I was 18 and drove to work at 4 o’clock in the morning, 1 hour each way, in the cold. It was quite miserable. On the flip side, I’ve also had my air conditioner stop working in the middle of the summer. I drove that car from Maine to Florida in the middle of June without AC. That was also miserable. To be sure to have these things checked ahead of time. It would be horrible to be driving through the snow with no heater and this would also make it extremely hard to keep the windshield from freezing over as well. Not only is it uncomfortable, it can also be unsafe as well.

How to Prepare Your Car For Winter Driving | KeatingBartlett.com

HAVE YOUR CAR FULLY SERVICED.

When I say fully serviced, I mean everything. Be sure to have them check the brakes as well as all fluid levels: coolant, oil, anti-freeze, windshield wiper fluid, etc. It’s also good to have them run tests on the battery to make sure it’s working properly as well. This should all be done a week or so in advance so that you have the time to fix anything that may come up unexpectedly.

Whenever I’m planning a big road trip, I can always count on Walmart’s Automotive Care Center to be my 1-stop shop for preparing my car for the colder weather. I can drop my car off to be serviced while I explore the store and gather everything else I may need for my road trip (this is the perfect time to build that emergency kit!). Currently Walmart’s Pennzoil® Platinum Full Synthetic oil change is on Rollback ($49.88 Rollback to $44.88) now through December 27, 2016! Pennzoil Platinum® Full Synthetic motor oil with PurePlus™ Technology keeps pistons up to 20% cleaner than what is required by industry standard and keeps your engine cleaner than any other synthetic oil. Synthetic oils also perform much better in extreme temperatures whether they’re hot or cold.

How to Prepare Your Car For Winter Driving | KeatingBartlett.com

You can click here to find a Walmart Automotive Care Center near you! And when you arrive, be sure to ask for a Pennzoil® Platinum Full Synthetic oil change. This Rollback ($49.88 Rollback to $44.88) is only good from now until December 27, 2016 so you don’t want to miss out!

How do you prepare your car for winter road trips?

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  • Jen

    It’s so important to make sure all of this is taken care of. I’m the one who handles all of this stuff for our vehicles and I actually enjoy it haha.

    • Haha Zack is typically the one who handles our cars. But I’m so anal about it these days since I’ve always had such horrible luck with cars. I always make sure my Jeep is fully stocked up on everything imaginable, just in case haha

  • Emergency car kits for the win! When I was growing up, my parents always used to make me have one in my car throughout the whole winter.

    • Emergency kits are so important! They might seem like a pain in the butt to constantly have in your car sometimes, but when you need them, they’re complete life savers!

  • You never think of switching blades! So smart! I always have a little emergency kit in my car year round 🙂

    • The only time I ever think to buy new blades is when my current ones REALLY suck haha but I never knew they had ones specifically for the winter so I may have to start using those when we move back to the east coast.

  • Ugh I forgot to put the Pennzoil in my car last time I went to my parents! Now I have to make a special trip all the way back to them so my dad can change my oil lol.

    • Haha my car is constantly needing an oil change. I’m always out driving. Back in Maine, I was literally getting an oil change every 6 or 7 weeks. It was so bad. I’m not going through oil as fast here though for some reason! I haven’t had an oil change since maybe early to mid September. And I’m still 400ish miles away from needing another. I like it haha

  • I keep a small air compressor in my car just in case too. Great list!

    • That’s such a great idea! I’ll have to add that to my car as well!

      • I actually ran over a nail but it was a slow leak so I was able to keep adding air until we got a new tire. It was perfect!

        • I ran over a screw once, but by the time I noticed, it was the end of my work day. 5 o’clock on a Friday and I went out to the parking lot to start my car and the tire was completely flat haha there was no saving it even to drive around the corner to Walmart. It was that bad. My husband had to come get me so we could get a new tire put on it.

  • I typically have a blanket in my car as well, but with how much moving we’ve done these last few months, I’ve had to seriously rearrange everything and take some things out. So I’ll have to go back through it all and re-stock up on everything.

  • Imaobong Asuquo

    Always having emergency car kits just so you don’t get caught unaware should probably be the most important here!

    • it really is! There should always be an emergency kit in your car regardless of the season. They’re so helpful when you need them.

  • Jessica Hughes

    This blog is great because I don’t always prepare for a road trip and I should. I just assume everything is running well. Thanks for the list.

    • I never did these things either until I realized the importance of it all. Like you, I always assumed everything was fine haha now, I’m much more anal about it. Our trip cross-country resulted in about $1500 worth of work before leaving to make sure there was NOTHING that could go wrong…the battery still died halfway though for some reason haha but thanks to having a savings account, it wasn’t a big deal. Cars can be so much work!

  • Heather Gullett Denniston

    We are leaving for a trip that is worthy of this post very soon. Thank for the tips.

  • Ahhh I miss having a car, but not for these reasons haha. I loved my car but I have to admit, I was really bad at taking care of you. Reading all your tips reminds me of why my car always broke down. Thanks for sharing!

    • Haha I used to be horrible at taking cars too. The first car I really started to take care of was the car I bought when I was 21. It was my very first car loan. But even that one was so bad. I don’t know what it is, but I pick cars that really don’t last long. It’s so bad. I’m only 24 and I’ve had about 6 cars since getting my license at 16. My current one has been the best, so far. But it’s also because it’s the newest and most expensive of the bunch. No more older, used cars haha

  • As rough as winter driving is, I’m so glad I grew up in New England where I truly LEARNED how to drive in the snow! We always put snow tires on around this time of year, switch out our washer fluid to one that has de-icer, and buy a new ice scraper!

    • I grew up in New England, but my anxiety is just way too horrible for winter driving. I just cannot do it. I mean, I do it, but the only two accidents I’ve ever been in were due to snow. Sooooo I avoid it at all costs haha but now I have a Jeep and man can that thing handle snow. It made last winter SO much less stressful.

  • megkerns

    It turned frigid here in just a few hours last weekend. Definitely time to winterize the cars!
    Thank you for the helpful reminders. Now to make a to-do list for my husband…

    • Being that we currently live in San Diego and it’s STILL in the 70’s out, I’m thinking this may be the only year we don’t have to worry about it as much haha but growing up in Maine, it’s time to start winterizing in September or October. They already have snow there right now. I don’t miss it lol

  • David @ Spicedblog

    Wow, I’ve never heard about winter wiper blades…and I live in the northeast now. I also need an oil change, so I’m definitely planning on stopping by Walmart next week. Thanks so much for sharing these tips! #client

    • Neither had I! I just heard about them very recently. I’m definitely going to have to buy some when we move back to Maine in a couple years. I’m sure those will come in handy haha

  • Marissa Abao

    Having an emergency car kit is a brilliant idea. Anything can happen and it is so much better to be prepared.

    • It amazes me how many people DONT have these types of things in their car! My dad’s always been big on being prepared for things like this so I’ve always had the necessary equipment ready for when something goes wrong. It’s so helpful!

  • Ana Ojha

    Some great tips shared! Fortunately we have always sunshine in Florida!

    • Thanks Ana! I lived in Florida for a bit back in high school and loved it there. Although now that i’m older, I cannot stand constant sun and warm temperatures haha we’re currently living in San Diego and it’s the worst. Sunny and 75+ every single day.

  • Thanks Jessica! I hope you have an amazing time in Vermont! The ski resorts there always put on amazing fireworks shows so if you’re in need of somewhere to be that night, definitely check them out. I’m pretty sure Burlington has some too but they’re always so packed there.