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Important Tips to Help Prepare Your Car for Winter

As winter approaches, make sure your car is ready for the cold, snowy weather that awaits.

Create a Winter Kit for Your Car

Becoming stranded when the weather is at its worst can be a nightmare. The National Safety Council (NSC) recommends having a few essentials in your car so you can avoid being stranded — or at least make the most of it if you are.

Windsheild wipers clearing snow away from the window.

Your winter car kit should include the following, if possible, and you should never leave home in winter without it:

  • Shovel
  • Ice scraper
  • Jumper cables
  • Cell phone charger
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • One bag of kitty litter (for traction in snow and ice)
  • Compass
  • First aid kit
  • Emergency flares
  • Energy bars, snacks, canned nuts, crackers, etc.
  • Matches in waterproof containers
  • Extra warm clothing including blankets, scarves, hats, gloves, etc. Perhaps include a few hand warmer packets too

You should also verify before winter hits that your spare tire is in good working order, properly inflated, and that all your tools for changing a tire are easy to locate.

Winterize Your Car

Before winter hits, be sure to have your local mechanic inspect and winterize your car. These are some of the things you'll want to do when winterizing your car:

  • Check your tires. Some people switch to winter tires or all-season tires as winter approaches. You will certainly want to replace any worn tire before the snow and ice set in and make sure all tires are properly inflated.
  • Switch your windshield wiper fluid to a winter mix. Summer windshield wiper fluid can freeze in temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, so look for winter-rated wiper fluid designed to be used at temperatures down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Replace your windshield wiper blades if needed. Depending on how often they are used, they may need replaced every six to twelve months, or when you notice impaired visibility when you're using them.
  • Test the antifreeze and make sure you have an adequate amount of antifreeze. A 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water works best, according to Consumer Reports.
  • Make sure your battery is in good shape and rated for the winter ahead of you. This is especially important if you've moved from a warmer climate to one that has harsher winters.

Some other items that are recommended to get serviced are oil change, air filter and exhaust systems.

Doing these simple things will help keep your car safer this winter. Don't forget to check with your insurance agent to make sure you have the right coverage to protect your investment all winter long.

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