Are You Ready for Winter Travel? How to Winterize a Car for the Snowy Road Ahead

A Girls Guide To Cars | Are You Ready For Winter Travel? How To Winterize A Car For The Snowy Road Ahead - Agirlsguidetocars Logotype Color Web Transparentbg 1

Here’s what you need to do to be prepared.

AAA just came out with their Thanksgiving stats, and it’s gearing up to be a busy year. More than 54 million people traveled this Thanksgiving and you guessed it–most went by car. If you didn’t get to it before the holiday (and you were lucky to hit good weather and no issues) winterizing your car now is a smart idea.

Related: I Learned to Drive in Snow at Bridgestone Winter Driving School With Toyota – And So Can You

Yes, I Actually Did This (So You Don’t Have To)

Having lived most of my life in Florida, when I moved to New York I knew nothing about winter. I didn’t have the right coat and was constantly looking for something warmer. My cute little boots caused me to fall in the snow—many times until I finally bought REAL snow boots. And, the little Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible I bought while living in Palm Beach didn’t know how to do winter either. We both learned.

I’ll never forget one frigid morning in February when I decided to drive to Philadelphia in a snowstorm. A friend of mine called to check on me during the drive. This was our conversation:

Him: “You’re driving to Philly in this snow? Did you winterize your car?”

Me: “What does winterize mean?”

Him: “You do know what black ice is, right?”

Me: “No, what’s that?”

Him: “Girl, you’re going to die.”

New Tires

Do you need winter tires? Photo: Unsplash

Don’t Do What I Did; Instead, Follow These Tips

Fortunately, I lived to tell the story but not before my windshield wiper fluid froze into a solid block of ice. Don’t be like me. Follow these tips from Michelin for winterizing your car to help make sure you are prepared for winter road trips and the colder weather ahead.

  1. TIRES: Tires lose pressure as temperatures drop. Even if winter conditions are mild, remember to check your pressure once a month. If driving where temperatures consistently approach freezing, consider putting winter tires on your car. Winter tires are made of softer rubber that grip cold pavement, snow and icy roads better than all-season tires (they are required winter equipment in Canada).
  2. EMERGENCY KIT: Carry an emergency kit with gloves, blanket, flares, a shovel, flashlight, water, extra batteries and cell phone charger, as well as an emergency contact list with important phone numbers.
  3. LIGHTS: Inspect your headlights and brake lights to ensure they’re fully functioning, which are especially important during winter fog or heavy snow.
  4. BATTERY: Battery capacity is decreased significantly by cold weather. Before the winter months, have your mechanic check it to ensure it’s at peak performance. It’s also a good idea to carry jumper cables in your car, should you ever need someone to give you a boost (or provide one to a stranded motorist).
  5. WIPERS: Buy washer fluid with antifreeze solution to protect visibility; keep it on hand at home and refill it occasionally, especially if it’s a snowy winter. Also check your windshield wiper blades to make sure they are in good working order.
  6. HEATER & DEFROSTER: Make sure the heater and defroster are in proper working condition for both comfort and visibility.
  7. CAR WAX: A fresh coat of wax before the snow flies can help protect against damage from salt and dirt.
  8. INTERIOR MATS: Using winter mats in your car can go a long way in keeping your car’s interior clean during the snowy, slushy months.

Related: The Truth About Worn Tires and Tire Replacement: What You Need to Know

Michelin Winter Info Graphic

Being prepared is sure to make your road trip safer and your winter season easier and more enjoyable, especially if you’re one of the millions of people out on the road this winter!

Terri Marshall grew up road-tripping around the country. Her love for the open road remains strong today. A travel... More about Terri Marshall