What To Have In Your Car For Winter – 10 Must Have Items To Keep In Your Vehicle This Winter
Whether you like it or not, winter is in full swing across the country and that means driving in some less than favorable conditions. We don’t mind the winter at all – it keeps us busy! Between the chemicals used to treat icy roads and the ubiquitous potholes, winter driving can be quite the menace on wheels and rims. You would be amazed at how many OEM replacement wheels we sell after winter. Still, your number one concern should in these conditions should be safety – we’ve put this list together of 10 must have items that everyone should have in their car for winter driving. You can’t control the weather any more than you can other people’s driving abilities, but you CAN control your level of preparation for an emergency.
You should always make sure you’ve got a first-aid kit in your car, rain, sleet or shine. From minor cuts to severe injuries, a first aid kit can really come in handy. Those with children probably already carry one everywhere they go. Basic first aid kits will have a nice mix of bandages, medical tape and ointments to treat minor injuries. If you can change a tire without at least a nick out of your finger you’re better than most.
It’s a little sad that we have to include something as obvious as an ice scraper on this list, but you wouldn’t believe the things we’ve seen people use to “scrape” ice from their car in Northeast Ohio. From pizza boxes to credit cards, people will resort to just about anything to clean off a windshield sans scraper. Unfortunately, the only thing that really works is an ice scraper. Keep an ice scraper / snow brush combo in your car during the winter and make sure to clean off all mirrors and lights. Also, be courteous and clean all of the snow off of your car. No one appreciates a mobile nor’easter driving down the road in front of them. Tip: Keep a spare ice scraper in your garage – sometimes just getting into your car to retrieve the snow scraper can be difficult when the car is covered in snow.
You should always have jumper cables in your car, but this is especially true in the winter. Cold temperatures can be quite unforgiving on a battery. In fact, AAA has estimated that a car’s battery only retains 40% of its strength at 0 degrees fahrenheit. Combine this with the fact that it takes more current to start an engine in cold temperatures and you have a recipe for a lot of dead batteries. Regularly have your mechanic test your battery to make sure it hasn’t passed its prime. Make sure you get a set of cables that is plenty long enough, and look for clamps that can open wide enough to fit on any sized battery terminal. There are also a lot of rechargeable jump starters on the market that can provide a jump to your battery without needing another car present.
For those unintended off road treks, keep a shovel in your car to help dig your way out of any unforeseen predicaments. You can use a shovel to dig out stuck tires or to clear a path. There are a lot of really neat emergency type shovels that can fold up and are designed to be kept in the trunk of a car these days.
If you’re changing a flat tire on a snowy winter evening you’re going to benefit from having a flashlight. Invest in one that is plenty bright, waterproof and dependable. You can spend anywhere from $3 to $300 (or more) on a flashlight these days, but probably somewhere in between is ideal. Keep a set of backup batteries on hand or a have a plan in place to charge it when you need it.
6. Cell Phone Charger
Cell phones have changed nearly every facet of our lives, but they are of no use to you when the battery is dead. If you have a way to charge a dead cell phone, you will never have to worry about not being able to use your cell phone in an emergency. There are power packs specifically designed to charge cell phones, or you can go with an all in one jump starter that has a plug for your cell phone charger built in.
A flat tire in the winter is no fun, but being prepared can help make the situation a bit less unbearable. Make sure that you have a dependable spare tire and the tools needed to change the tire. Recently, the prevalence of “tires in a can” – compressed air cans combined with a tire sealant solution – has really changed the way we deal with flat tires. We don’t recommend using these products as a substitute to spare tires, but as a supplement. Instead of putting a spare tire on in a dark snowy highway, use a can of this stuff to get you to a safer location to change the tire.
A couple scoops of sand or non clumping kitty litter under a stubborn tire can do wonders to get you that little extra traction needed to get the car moving. The granular properties of the sand or litter provide much needed friction in between the tire and the snow or ice you’re battling. Combined with a shovel, this trick can get you out of a lot of trouble.
One of the most obnoxious things about the winter is the bone chilling cold. In the unfortunate event you find yourself stranded in your car during winter, it’s nice to have plenty of things to keep you warm. We recommend keeping a spare set of clothes, hats, jackets, gloves, scarfs and blankets. Also, be mindful of how much gasoline you have in the tank. In the winter it’s a good idea to keep the tank as full as possible. Even if your car is stuck in the snow, if you have gas you should be able to keep the engine running and stay warm while you wait for help. If you are trapped in the snow and leave your car running for awhile, make sure the exhaust is clear from snow and icy debris to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in the cabin.
Buy washer fluid that is designed for subzero temperatures with antifreeze to prevent it from freezing in the tank and on your windshield. A quality windshield washer fluid can help prevent excess ice from forming. With all the salt and other chemicals used on the road during the winter, you’ll probably go through way more than you would in nice weather. Keep an extra bottle in the trunk, you never know when you will need more, and you won’t have to pay the gouging gas station prices for it.
Of course, there are a million other things that could prove beneficial in an emergency, but we think that these are 10 of the most essential items. What are your must-have winter driving items? We’d love to hear from you. Share this article with your friends by clicking the social media icons below or contact us and let us know.