Preparing Yourself and Your Vehicle for Winter Travel

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Old man winter is pretty hard on vehicles. The roads get slippery, cold temperatures create dangerous situations, and road salt can cause corrosion on the undercarriage of cars and trucks. Alloy wheels are subject to damage also.

So, let’s get prepared for that chilly and grumpy old season with helpful winter driving tips such as a pre-season vehicle check, must-have safety kits, and regular car washes.

Checklist for Cold Hard Driving

Winter is always coming, and your best weapon is…not a flamethrower. It’s a checklist – and one that can keep you from untimely breakdowns, spin-outs, and a rusted-out ride due to salted highways.

Inspecting your tires and keeping an eye on the tire pressure are at the top of the list. Also get the oil changed on time and take advantage of local auto parts stores’ free battery testing. Brakes that make noise or cause vibrations when braking need a check-up long before snow and ice arrive.

Other Winter Driving Items to Check Off

Did you know there are special wiper blades made to resist ice? Finally, a great invention - been a while since the wheel. So, invest in winter wiper blades that can function even in freezing weather. 

Also, have your mechanic inspect all belts and hoses, especially if you have a long trip planned. Breakdowns are no fun in perfect weather and are perfect misery in winter weather. Be sure to have the service center check all fluids as well unless you can do this yourself, which involves knowing the right fluids for your make and model.

Winter Safety Kits for Vehicles

The checklist items above will give you plenty of peace of mind regardless if you’re traveling for business or pleasure. But if something still goes wrong, having a safety kit in your vehicles is smart.

You can buy these emergency kits at a local parts store or online. But, if those nice local folks check and install your battery for free, we’re all for shopping local and checking two things off a list in one stop. Here are some items if you’re packing your own emergency kit in case snow slings your car into a winter emergency.

  • First aid items
  • Blanket
  • Gloves
  • Matches / lighter
  • Reflective vest and warning triangle
  • Jumper cables or jump starter 
  • Portable air compressor
  • Ice scrape
  • Towing straps
  • Flashlight (crank type)

The larger the vehicle the more you can pack in a winter roadside kit. And 10 out of 10 dads say, “Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it”!

Winter Driving Guide

As for being behind the wheel, where better to learn than with higher education in a frigid city? Check out driving tips from Boise State because they have gobs of extreme weather experience to share.  

Some of their best advice may seem simple. But checking forecasts is smart and so is keeping plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. They advise patience as you defrost your windows, so you never drive with insufficient vision. Oh, and drizzle sounds harmless - but freezing drizzle is just as dangerous as hard sleet. So, respect all frozen precipitation and check the weather closely before you head out.

Avoiding Rusty Rides

After making sure you and your family arrive safely during winter travels, be sure to keep your vehicle in top shape too. A quick car wash can protect your ride from corrosive chemicals used to melt ice on the roads.

No matter the season, your vehicle will benefit from an unlimited car wash pass. Consistent care can’t be beat. But wintertime makes it even more crucial due to rust caused by salt. Plus, cold weather makes hand-washing quite a teeth-chattering proposition! Find an express car wash near you by searching “Car Wash Near Me” and click ZIPS Car Wash to wash winter away.