Winter driving preparedness: How to make sure your vehicle is ready

Motorists can face all types of challenges when driving in the winter, from snow, ice, sleet and more.

While the best advice during bad weather is to stay home if possible, AAA recommends people who have to hit the road to check a few things first:

  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have adequate tread. Colder weather typically calls for increasing the pressure. Check the owner’s manual for your vehicle to find the appropriate tire pressure levels. Pressure levels may be different for front and rear tires. As for treads, motorists can check by taking a Washington quarter and inserting it into the tire tread upside down with Washington’s head going first. If his head is visible at any point, you need new tires.
  • Check your vehicle’s battery. The average battery lasts three to five years and starting a vehicle in cold weather can take up to twice as much current needed under normal conditions. Make sure battery terminals and cable ends are free from corrosion and connections are tight.
  • Check wiper blades and make sure they completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace any blades that leave streaks or miss spots.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full. In an emergency, you could become stranded and need to keep warm. Winter weather can cause unexpected traffic delays, making drivers use more gas than anticipated.

AAA also advises motorists to create a winter emergency kit for their vehicles containing the following items:

  • Mobile phone pre-program with rescue apps and important phone numbers and a phone charger
  • Abrasive material, such as sand, salt or cat litter, or traction mats
  • Snow shovel
  • De-icer
  • Ice scraper with brush
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Jumper cables
  • Extra warm clothing, including gloves, hats and scarves, and blankets
  • Warning devices such as flares or triangles
  • Drinking water and non-perishable snacks for humans and pet passengers
  • If traveling with an infant, make sure to pack extra food and supplies
  • First-aid kit
  • Basic toolkit with screwdrivers, pliers and an adjustable wrench