It’s the most wonderful time of the year — but not necessarily for drivers. In fact, winter can be scarier than Halloween for many daily commuters. Winter is punishing on cars and drivers across the country for several different reasons.
Slick roads can be nerve-wracking for driving; waking up to a pile of snow on your car is a pain in the you-know-what, and salt from the road can be especially hard on your car’s paint job and frame. And let’s not even think about getting in a wreck or getting stuck in the snow.
We know that winter can suck for drivers, but you can get yourself and your car prepared for anything winter throws your way this year. Getting your car ready for winter and having the necessary “winter toolkit” on hand will help you kick Jack Frost’s ass this winter.
How To Prepare Your Car For Winter
Before we get into the stuff you’ll want to keep in your car during the winter season, let’s talk about actually getting your vehicle itself ready for the coldest months of the year. Proper car maintenance when winter arrives can save you from being broken down on the side of the road on a cold night (but if that does happen, you’ll be prepared for that too).
Here’s a quick and easy checklist of car maintenance you should get squared away before the snow starts falling:
- Get your oil changed
- Check the battery
- Make sure the ratio is correct on your engine coolant
- Change your windshield wipers if they are in bad condition and fill up washer fluid
- Get your heater working (if it’s broken)
- Get your tires checked or changed to winter tires
These preventive measures can go a long way in helping you stay off the side of the road. And we get that not all people can afford to upgrade to winter tires on a whim, but making sure your tires are in at least decent shape and have tread left on them will do. Just make sure you aren’t figure-skating around in your car on bald tires.
What You’ll Need For Your Car’s Winter Toolkit
Before or after you get your car prepped for the long winter months, it’s a great idea to put together a winter toolkit for your vehicle because winter driving conditions have a knack for the unexpected. Whether the cold stops your car battery from working or your car gets stuck in the snow, here are the items you’ll want in your trunk to get you through any situation winter throws your way.
1. Astro AI 47.2″ Ice Scraper
Walking to your car in the morning or after a full day in the office to find a pile of snow resting on your whip isn’t exactly what we’d call a pleasant surprise. But for those who live in snowy winter climates, it is what it is. The Astro Ice Scraper can help you quickly remove snow and ice even off of big rides like trucks and SUVs, thanks to an extending arm that stretches almost four feet. The brush helps you push snow off while the scraper handles the thin layer of ice stuck to your windows.
2. Security Chain Company Tire Chains
A set of tire chains is a smart and safe idea for those in mountainous areas or those who have to drive overpasses to get where you need to go. The chains give your tires a lot more traction in extreme weather areas that experience a lot of snow and ice. You should also consider chains if your tires are getting bald and the snow is really coming down and sticking to the roads in your area.
3. Lifeline Aluminum Sport Utility Shovel
You can quickly use this shovel behind your tires to clear a path before you back out of your driveway, so you don’t smash snow into the ground and create two ice runways. This shovel is also especially useful if your car gets stuck in the snow. Trust us; you’d much rather be digging yourself out of the snow with this shovel instead of using your hands.
4. NOCO Boost HD GB70 Jump Starter Box
Freezing temperatures can cause batteries to fail. Seriously, it can get so cold out that your car battery stops working. You can combat this annoyance with the NOCO Boost Jump Starter Box that will get your car back up and running in a jiff (not to be confused with GIF). No need to flag down another driver to use their car to jump your battery. This Boost can be a lifesaver when you’re out and about by yourself.
5. Maxtrax MKII Vehicle Recovery Board
Even with snow tires, your car can still slide on super slick or snow-packed roads, leaving you in a place where your vehicle gets stuck. These MaxTrax Vehicle Recovery Boards provide a grippy surface for your tires to gain traction and get yourself unstuck. Protip: rocksalt can do the same thing in a pinch.
6. Morton Safe-T-Salt Rock Salt
Rock salt is a great thing to have in your car during the winter. Rock salt can serve three purposes: it melts snow and ice around your walkways and driveways, it can create a grippy surface for your tires to gain traction when you are stuck, and it can add weight to your car to help your tires better grip the road. Who knew salt was such a utility player? (We did!)
7. Guide Gear Canvas Hunter Double Sleeping Bag
Hopefully, you never find yourself in a situation where you’re stuck or broken down, and you have to sleep in your car through a cold winter night. But for when the worst-case scenario creeps in, a heavy-duty sleeping bag can be a literal lifesaver. This sleeping bag will keep you warm to zero degrees keeping you nice and cozy even when your car situation is anything but.
8. M2 Basics First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is not only a good thing to have in your car during the winter season, but all seasons. Of course, with slick roads and incautious drivers, having a first aid kit available during the winter months is especially important. This kit includes plenty of bandages, gauze, sterile wipes, and even a thermal blanket to keep you warm.
9. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
For those of you that aren’t familiar with the LifeStraw, this bad boy is a zero electricity, non-battery-powered filtrating straw that removes 99.999999% of waterborne parasites and bacteria straight from the source. Something this powerful will surely come in handy packed in your emergency prep kit during your next camping trip. It can filter up to 4,000 liters of water in total. Let’s hope you don’t need to use this that much.
10. Odoland Camping Cookware Mess Kit
A cookware kit might be a little on the extreme end, but if your car is broken down in the middle of nowhere and you don’t have any water on you, you might need to make some drinkable water out of snow. This camping kit will help you boil snow down to potable water. Boiling water kills harmful bacteria in the snow that can cause illness. Like we said, this would be a pretty extreme case of getting lost and being broken down, but hey, you never know and better safe than sorry.
11. Jack Links Beef Jerky Variety Pack
Beef jerky is a great source of protein and energy. Getting your body protein will keep you fed and alive in a situation where you may be stuck in your car waiting for help for several hours (or days in the most dire situations). And let’s be real, if you don’t get beef jerky on a road trip, are you even doing it right?