How To Prepare Your Car For Winter

WRITTEN BY: Julia Matseikovich

UPDATED: MAY 24, 2023 | 2 MIN READ

Driving in the winter is harrowing at times, but we still need to get from place to place. Preparing your car for winter driving is important to avoid getting into an accident or sliding off the road when you hit the ice. We’ve put together some great tips for getting you through the winter months, including the cold weather, hail and snowstorms, and what to do if things go off track.

Winter Checklist for Vehicles: How to Prepare Your Car For Winter

Winterizing your vehicle aims to keep the motor going as long as possible. Without regular maintenance, your vehicle and engine suffer, setting you up for a potential breakdown.

You want to ensure that your car is in working order before cold temperatures hit. You also want to ensure you have proper car insurance if you get into an accident.

These are some tips for winter weather preparation before the harsh weather hits.

Check the battery

When you prepare your car for winter, one of the first things you should do is check the car’s battery. They typically last about five years; if they’re on their way out, you might end up stuck in freezing temperatures. Cold weather reduces the output of a battery, and using the heater, blower, and lights puts it under additional strain.

Check your tires

Your tire tread must be in good condition for winter weather. If the roads are wet and icy, you have a higher chance of sliding off the road or getting in an accident.

Many people use seasonal tires and switch their tires to winter tires during winter conditions. Snow tires have tire tread that keeps you on the road in bad weather.

Wash your windshield and wipers

It’s essential to clean your windshield inside and out and top off your windshield wiper fluid with antifreeze. Check your wipes for nicks and tears by running your finger down the wiper blades.

Preparing for Winter Driving

Making sure your car is in tip-top shape before you drive is one of the most important things to do when you prepare your car for winter. There are a few things that you want to do to prepare for winter driving. We’re here to give you tips on driving in the snow so you don’t get into trouble.

Things to check before hitting the road in winter months:

  • Washer fluids
  • Battery
  • Tire pressure
  • Drive belts
  • Brakes
  • Wiper blades
  • Lights
  • Transmission, power steering fluid, and brake fluid

An emergency kit is also a great idea to have in your car with the following items:

  • Drinking water
  • Owner’s manual
  • First aid kit
  • Cellphone and car charger
  • Blanket
  • Snow shovel
  • Bag of sand, kitty litter, or road salt
  • Non-perishable snacks
  • Flashlight
  • Jumper cables
  • Ice scraper
  • Window washer fluid
  • Coolant
  • De-icer

How to drive in the snow

  • Make sure you have plenty of time: Driving during the winter season takes more time due to slow traffic along the road.
  • Remove snow or ice from your car: Use an ice scraper to clear the windows. If there is heavy snow, push the majority of it off first.
  • Drive slower than normal: Following the speed limit is a good rule to live by to keep yourself safe. If unsure, go ten mph under the speed limit to play it safe.
  • Keep your decelerating and accelerating slowly: Try not to slam on the brakes or rev up, as your car might go into a tailspin.
  • Always wear your seatbelt: The truth is that most winter storm-related deaths involve a vehicle. Wearing your seatbelt protects you if you’re in an accident.
  • Don’t use cruise control: Winter driving requires you to have control of your vehicle. Ice pops up randomly, and you must have control of your car. Using cruise control makes driving more dangerous in winter conditions.
  • Watch out for black ice: Transparent, thin ice blends in with the color of the pavement, called black ice. It’s dangerous as it’s hard to spot. If you hit it and start to fishtail, gently turn the wheel in the direction the spin is going until you stop.

How to Get Your Car Out Of a Snow Bank

We might do everything right regarding winter weather and still end up in a snow bank. If you get into a snowy situation, use these tips.

  • Check that your exhaust pipe isn’t clogged: This should be the first thing you do. If your car’s exhaust pipe is clogged, carbon monoxide seeps into your car’s interior, causing carbon monoxide poisoning. If it’s clogged, scoop out the snow, and clear the area of the tailpipe.
  • It’s time to dig: Having a snow shovel in your car is always a good idea. If you do, dig out as much as you can around the vehicle. Start with the front, near the tires, underneath the car, and in the back. You want as little snow around your car as possible when it comes time to move the car.
  • Avoid revving: You might think the best thing to do is press hard on the has to get unstuck, but when it comes to snow, it’s the worst thing to do.
  • Rock your car: Rocking your car back and forth dislodges your vehicle from any compact snow preventing your car from moving. If you have people with you, have them rock the car while you sit in the driver’s seat and acceleration to gain traction to move forward.


What objects should be put in your car before winter?

  • Emergency flares.
  • Flashlight.
  • Extra batteries.
  • Hand crank or battery-powered radio.
  • Ice scraper for windshield and windows.
  • Shovel.
  • Jumper cables.
  • Neon flag or ribbon.

How long should I let my car sit before driving in cold?

Your car should run for about a minute before you start driving. Some drivers allow their vehicle to idle for 20 minutes to get it warm inside before driving.

What do you put in your car to keep it from freezing?

Using antifreeze or coolant prevents your vehicle from freezing in the winter.

Should you let old cars warm in freezing weather before driving?

It’s recommended that you warm your vehicle up before driving. This helps to let the fluids flow properly.

What should you do with your car before winter?

Things to do to your car before winter: check the thread depth of your tire, fill up your tires, change oil and antifreeze, consider snow tires, and inspect your battery.

When should you apply winter floor mats?

Winter floor mats are put in your car when the weather changes.

What should you do after you get in your car to prevent freezing?

Turning on the heat is the best way to warm the car up and prevent freezing.

How often should you change the oil in your car during winter?

If you use traditional motor oil, your oil should be changed every 5,000 to 7,000 miles during the winter.

What should you do before starting your car in the winter?

  • Washer fluids
  • Battery
  • Tire pressure
  • Drive belts
  • Brakes
  • Wiper blades
  • Lights
  • Transmission, power steering fluid, and brake fluid

How does a car overheat in cold weather?

Overheating occurs when there is a fault with the cooling system in the vehicle, such as a coolant leak or a blocked thermostat.

How to Find Cheap Car Insurance Before Winter

Purchasing cheap car insurance through a reputable car insurance company is simple and easy. Ensuring you have the right coverage when cold weather happens is essential.

If you’re ready to get insurance quotes for your home, it’s as simple as comparing rates as amounts vary by company. We have a helpful tool to find the best car insurance.