Winter travel preparations done ahead of time can make the difference between arriving safely at your destination and being stranded on the side of the road. These preparations are simple to do, but oh so important!
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Over the course of my life, I’ve had the pleasure of living in three different states. I was born in upstate New York, where I enjoyed robust winters filled with snow. When I was 14, my parents, two brothers, and I moved to southwest Florida, where there was no snow to be found. Thirteen years after marrying the love of my life, we moved to southern, middle Tennessee, where we don’t much of the beautiful white stuff, but do get a tiny bit every few years.
Driving in snowy conditions was never a concern for me since I moved away from New York before my driving years began.
While we lived in Florida, one year my sweet hubby’s Christmas gift to me was a trip to New York to celebrate the holidays with my family. I was so very excited, both to see my family and to share my love of snow with my husband and children, all of whom had never seen it!
The drive to New York was a long one, being 1300 miles long. When we finally arrived in NY, my hubby got out to pump gas and touched snow for the very first time. I’ll never forget the look on his face as he told me, “It’s so light!” I can’t say that he was as big of a fan of snow as I am, but he did enjoy it!
Our children were asleep in the back of the Suburban during this stop, so their first taste of snow was a little later after arriving at my folks’ home.
Rebecca and Thomas were ages 6 and 4, while Natalie was 4 months. Mary had not yet been born.
After bundling Rebecca and Thomas up and sending them out to play, we realized that we had neglected to put their gloves on. We put Rebecca’s gloves on, but Thomas did not want them as he really wanted to feel the snow in his hands. But, as you can imagine, after just a short time, his little guy hands were rather red and not loving that cold snow quite as much.
Into the house we went to warm his hands. We also had to warm Rebecca’s hands since the gloves we were able to buy in Florida were no match for the New York cold and snow!
That’s my first tip to share with you. Find appropriate clothing and outerwear items. The gloves that my babes were wearing were not designed to keep hands warm in the frigid upstate New York winter filled with blowing wind and snow!
My second tip is to be sure to add winter windshield washer fluid to your vehicle’s reservoir. I had forgotten just how dirty a windshield can become with the snow, salt, and lots of driving. It wouldn’t have mattered, though, since we would not have been able to purchase winter style fluid, which would prevent frozen fluid in the system once we drove to New York.
Being prepared is important, whether you are making a long-distance drive or just going to town during the winter in areas of the country that enjoy snow and cold.
To help you be prepared, we’ve created two checklists for you to print. After reading the lists over, feel free to add more items as you see fit. These lists are by no means exhaustive. My children are no longer babies or little people, so my preparations will be a little different to yours if you’re with the pitter patter of tiny feet.
Winter Driving Preparations You Need to Make:
There are two steps to winter driving preparation. First, you to make sure the vehicle is prepared for the demands of winter driving. Second, you need to make sure that you include comfort items such as blankets, extra clothing, appropriate gloves, hats, food, water, flashlights, first aid kit, and more, needful items should you have a breakdown or other issues requiring you to stay put for a while.
Preparing the vehicle is something that should routinely be done. By doing this regular maintenance, you will extend the life and reliability of your vehicle. Contrary to the way some folks treat their vehicle you do have to do more than just put gasoline into your vehicle!
By all means, if you do not feel you are qualified to complete any of these vehicle preparation steps, take it to your mechanic to have it done. Most importantly, just be sure that all of these steps are indeed completed!
For a free printable copy of the winter travel preparations checklists, enter your info below to subscribe to our weekly newsletter and have access to our free printables library.
1. Beginning with the outside of the vehicle, check the tires for tread depth. Slick tires do not grip the road or disperse water on the road very well. If in doubt, replace the tire! Be sure to also check the tire pressure.
2. Add fuel deicer to prevent frozen gas in the lines.
3. Ensure the heater and defroster work properly.
4. Clean battery terminal connections. Corrosion can build up over time.
5. Check the water level in battery. Add distilled water if needed.
6. Check belts and hoses, replace if necessary.
7. Inspect the bulbs and headlights, replace if necessary.
8. Flush & refill the coolant system. Anti-freeze is a good thing during the winter months, especially!
9. Check brakes, service if necessary.
10. Check the exhaust system for leaks. This is a huge safety issue as leaking exhaust can build up in a closed up vehicle while driving.
11. Check and replace filters (PCV, fuel, air)
12. Change oil and filter.
13. Change windshield wiper blades. We do this with every other oil change unless needed sooner.
Years ago, I worked at an auto service garage. The biggest complaint I heard from the Mamas who would drop their vehicle off was the time spent just sitting and waiting with nothing to do. By having these service needs taken care of at Walmart, you can do the multi-tasking we are so famous for and get the shopping done while your vehicle is being tended to!
What are the items on the winter travel safety kit? All are available at Walmart. How convenient is that?!
Winter travel safety kit:
Collapsible fuel container
Shelf-stable, protein-rich foods
First aid kit
Cell phone charger
Entertainment items (book, deck of cards, magnetic travel games)
Preparing for winter driving checklist:
Check and replace filters (PCV, air, fuel) if necessary
Add fuel deicer
Change oil & filter
Flush & refill coolant system
Ensure heater & defroster work properly
Replace windshield wiper blades
Add winter windshield washer fluid
Clean battery terminal connections
Check water level in the battery, add if needed
Inspect bulbs and headlights
Check exhaust system for leaks
Check tires for tread depth
Check tire pressure
Check belts & hoses, replace if necessary
Be prepared for winter travel by taking care of these preparations.
Anything you would add to this list? Share your tips in the comments below!
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David @ Spiced says
I’ve done the exact opposite of you in terms of places I’ve lived! I grew up in the South, but then we ended up moving to upstate New York. Needless to say, snow isn’t as much fun now as it used to be. But that’s ok…we make the most of it! Great tips on winter car care. It really is important to make sure your car is ready for the cold (and sometimes snowy) roads. Thanks for sharing! #client
Laurie Bostwick says
How interesting! Isn’t it neat to know how others have traveled as well!
I agree, snow used to be magical but now when faced with driving in it, it’s not quite so magical.