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How to Prepare Your Car for Winter Driving

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo
By Les Masterson

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation offers these tips to prepare for winter driving and what you should have in your car in the winter:

Preparing your vehicle for winter driving

Reliable transportation is especially important in the winter. Not only should you keep your vehicle in top operating condition all year round - for safety and fuel economy, it is especially important to get it winterized to avoid any unpleasant or dangerous situation while traveling in frigid weather. Check the following:

  • Ignition system
  • Fuel system
  • Belts
  • Fluid levels
  • Brakes
  • Exhaust system
  • Wiper blades and windshield washer fluid
  • Snow tires
  • Tire tread and pressure
  • Defroster
  • Proper grade oil
  • Cooling system
  • Battery
  • Lights
  • Antifreeze

Always fill the gasoline tank before a long trip or even for a short distance. Stop to fill-up long before the tank begins to run low. Keeping your tank as full as possible will minimize condensation, providing the maximum advantage in case of trouble.

A cellular phone can be very useful to you or another stranded motorist in case of an emergency.

  • Clear all windows and lights of frost and snow.
  • Drive with your headlights on.
  • Stock your car with basic winter driving equipment: A scraper and brush, small shovel, jumper cables, tow chain and a bag of sand or cat litter for tire traction. (See Winter car supplies below.)
  • Also include road flares, a blanket, heavy boots, warm clothing, and flashlight with batteries.
  • Remember to reverse the batteries in the case to avoid accidental switching, and burnout. Warm the batteries between your legs before using them.

Winter car supplies

Keep winter car supplies that can assist you in case of an emergency. You easily can equip your vehicle with essential gear for winter. Here's what you'll need:

  • Booster cables
  • Two or more blankets
  • Snow shovel and scraper
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Extra clothing: cap, mittens, parka and overshoes or boots in case you have to walk for help.
  • High calorie, non-perishable food like candy and canned nuts.
  • Sand or strips of carpet for traction.
  • Extra windshield washer fluid and antifreeze
  • Flares or reflectors
  • Cloth/paper towels
  • Piece of bright cloth

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