Winter Car Care: Get Your Wheels Ready For Frosty Mornings

Years ago, getting your car ready for the cold weather was a big deal. Not so today — modern cars can go from summer in Death Valley to winter in Minnesota without missing a beat. Still, there are a few winter car care steps you can take to make sure both you and your car are ready for the cold.

By Aaron Gold

Have a snow brush and an ice scraper

Pretty elementary stuff, but they are easy to forget until you need them! (A credit card makes a great impromptu windshield scraper.)

Consider buying snow tires

Snow tires have much better traction than the all-season tires that come standard on most cars. They aren’t cheap, but they make winter driving much easier — and a lot safer. If you aren’t changing tires, have a good look at the ones on your car; if the tread is getting low, now is the time to replace them. Bald tires can’t get traction on icy terrain.

Install winter windshield wiper blades

They have a rubber cover that keeps them from getting clogged up with snow. You’ll find them your local auto parts store, and they’re easy to install yourself (though they aren’t always fingernail-friendly).

Stock up on windshield washer fluid

That blue stuff contains a de-icer that melts ice on your windshield. Wait for a sale and then buy a few extra bottles — if you get too much, it’ll keep until next winter. Your owner’s manual will tell you how to fill up the tank.

If you have an older or high-mileage car…

Check (or have your mechanic check) your coolant (for the right percentage of antifreeze; you can buy a cheap tester at the auto parts store) and your battery (water level). If you live where it gets really cold, look up the oil recommendations in your owner’s manual, as it may recommend a different type of oil for low temperatures.

Run the air conditioner at least once a month

Like us, it needs a bit of exercise. Hint: When you need to defrost your windows, turn on the A/C (with the heat control set to warm). The A/C system dehumidifies the air, which clears your windshield faster.

Carry a winter emergency kit

Consider including a warm blanket, a flashlight with fresh batteries, and a good-quality set of jumper cables. If you travel with kids, a puzzle or toy and a couple of granola bars will help.

That’s it, Vroomie! Winter car care isn’t so hard, is it? You and your car are ready for winter. Stay safe and stay warm!

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