Tamara Mannelly

Winter Road Trips - How to Be Safe On Your Trips
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Temperatures have started to drop, and the holidays are upon us — it’s time to get the car ready for winter road trips. Winter driving conditions are inherently dangerous; the right preparation and tools can end up literally saving your life. Here’s what you can do to ensure your car remains roadworthy and safe throughout the frigid winter months:

Get a Tune Up

If you haven’t caught up on your car’s regular maintenance, there’s no time like the present. The following vehicle systems need to be in top condition before you hit the road:

  • Brakes
  • Wiring
  • Spark plugs
  • Hoses and fan belts
  • Air, fuel, and emissions filters
  • Battery
  • Antifreeze level and freeze line
  • Windshield wipers
  • Windshield wiper fluid (freeze resistant)

There’s a good chance your vehicle will be subject to harsh weather soon, so it’s incredibly important to take care of any potential problems now.

Good Tires Are Key

The right tires are like the right shoes — you wouldn’t walk into a blizzard wearing flip flops, so don’t expect your car to do the same. Worn tires are dangerous on wet or slick roads, as they reduce traction. Depending on your location (or length of time you'll be experiencing snow), it’s not a bad idea to invest in snow tires. These tires are made with low-temperature resilient rubber and have deep treads that better grip snowy and icy roads. Furthermore, because the rubber compounds remain pliable in low temperatures, your car's safety systems (all-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes, and so on) continue to function properly in extreme conditions.

Check the Weather Before You Go

It’s best to avoid driving during blizzards, extreme cold, and high winds if possible. Keep a good eye on the forecast — if it looks problematic, sit tight and wait out the storm. Before you leave, let a family member, friend, or neighbor know where you’re headed and when you expect to get there. Contact them if you’ve been delayed and notify them when you reach your destination.

Know What to Do to Avoid a Crash

Even when you've done everything possible to prepare your car, the weather can surprise you (and not always in a good way). If you find yourself in a whiteout, pull off the road and don't attempt to drive farther until visibility improves. Of course, there are other conditions that can be equally surprising, such as black ice. When driving in winter weather, take the following tips to heart:

  • Do not use cruise control when there is water, snow, or ice on the road
  • Increase your following distance to 10 seconds
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly and steadily
  • If at all possible, don't stop when going uphill
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full (full is better)
  • Know how to make emergency stops in inclement weather (this is especially important if you don’t have antilock brakes)

Stock Your Car With Emergency Gear

The single most important thing you can do for your personal safety it to have a box full of winter supplies in your trunk. If something goes wrong and you find yourself stranded, not having the right supplies can be downright deadly. Carrying the following necessities can prove to be life-saving in a pinch:

  • Properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench, and jack
  • Jumper cables
  • Tow and tire chains
  • Tool kit
  • Windshield cleaner
  • Ice scraper and snowbrush
  • Shovel
  • Ice melt, salt, or kitty litter
  • Reflective triangles or flares
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • First aid kit
  • Blankets, gloves, socks, and hats
  • Thermal underwear
  • An extra USB cord to plug in your phone
  • Nonperishable foods (nuts, dried fruits, snack bars)

Though safe, driverless cars may be our future, for the time being we’re still stuck slogging through the snow and ice on our own. Winter driving conditions must be taken s­eriously, so go the extra mile by readying your vehicle for winter and learning how to drive safely in inclement weather. The right preparation and tools will not only protect you from the elements, they just might save your life.


Liz Greene is a dog loving, beard envying, pop culture geek from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch up with her latest misadventures on Instant Lo or follow her on Twitter@LizVGreene.


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Winter Road Trips - How to Be Safe On Your Trips


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20 Comments on “Winter Road Trips: Preparing Your Car for Anything”

  1. Avatar

    Great tips and thank you for sharing them. It’s also important to keep a checklist every time you will do some car maintenance, just to make sure everything is all good. Cheers!

  2. Avatar

    I’m impressed, I must say. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s both educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is an issue that not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy I stumbled across this during my hunt for something regarding this.
    Melanie M. Scott

  3. Avatar

    I completely agree that reckless driving habit could lead to an accident. So, one should be very cautious while driving a vehicle during the natural calamities. The battery is one of the key components of the vehicle which stores and distributes electrical energy required to run different types of electrical appliances used in the vehicle. However, the battery is very sensitive to extreme temperature. So, the condition of the battery should be inspected prior to leave for a destination and one should keep a jumper cable in the vehicle to start a dead battery. Visit https://germanmotorspecialist.com/battery-service/

  4. Avatar

    Thank you for useful tips! In winter you have to be extra careful when driving and preparing your car for the road. In addition to what you’ve written, I’d like to add checking all the car’s electronic systems. And if you plan long trips through deserted areas, you should install Android Auto head unit or its Apple analog. Perhaps one of the most important functions of these devices is convenient work with GPS. After all, getting lost in the winter would be especially unpleasant and dangerous.

  5. Avatar

    This is awesome info, thanks. Here in Ann Arbor Michigan we have all sorts of dangerous road conditions. The last thing you want is to find yourself in a snowbank in need of a <a href="http://www.towannarbor.com"/a&gt;. Having emergency gear in your car is an especially good tip!

  6. Avatar

    Winter is not a suitable season for organizing a road trip as the extremely cold temperature of the winter could bring the vehicle to a halt in the middle of nowhere. A lot of factors should be taken into consideration prior to leaving for a destination during the winter months. Different types of lubricants used in the vehicle should be inspected as lack of such lubricant could jeopardize the vehicle. Antifreeze plays a crucial role in the performance of the vehicle by protecting the engine against the cold temperature of the winter. So, the quality and quantity of such fluid should be inspected regularly and any sign which indicates that the cooling system of the vehicle is not working efficiently should not be ignored. The reason behind the appearance of such sign should be identified and repaired in time to keep the vehicle in working order.

  7. Avatar

    great blog !
    Thanx for providing me this informative information about winter road trip preparing for doing anything . really helpful for us when we plan our trips in winters.

    Keep posting blogs…………………

  8. Avatar

    Just like buying a new car, buying a used car is a time-consuming and expensive process. You should first carefully consider your driving habits to determine the kind of car you need.

  9. Avatar

    I loved your tips for winter road trips. I am planning on trips and very much excited about that. I will follow all your tips before and during the trip. So I will get out of a car accident. Cheers!!

  10. Avatar

    Winter is a challenging time for the driver to drive. Going through the owner’s manual will help you to spot the maintenance errands that you would have to carry out to prepare your old faithful for the snow time. Keep your gas tank full. Try to avoid the fallen power lines. Remove all-season tires and install snow tires- https://www.europeanservicecenter.com/tire-services/ . Inspect the condition of the windshield and replace if necessary. Carry all the necessary stuffs using which you can get yourself out of the danger.

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