Be prepared for an emergency. Store a kit of emergency items in your trunk.

Packing Your Car for Winter Trips

A winter accident could leave you stuck on the side of the road. Packing your car with a few essentials will help keep you safe and ready for whatever conditions pop up on your trip.

  • Keep the gas tank at least half full throughout the winter. This will reduce condensation, making your vehicle easier to start on cold mornings.
  • If you have a cell phone, make sure it's charged and bring it with you. A car charger for the phone is also a smart device to keep in the car.
  • Always store a snow/ice scraper and a shovel in your vehicle. A first aid kit is another must-have item to keep on hand. It should include all the usual items plus winter extras like flashlights, a fresh supply of batteries, blankets, matches, extra clothes, bottled water, and non-perishable snacks. Peanuts and granola bars are good protein- and carbohydrate-rich foods.
  • For rear-wheel drive vehicles, you might want to keep a small bag of sand in your trunk to create traction under the tires if you get stuck. The bulk of a vehicle's weight is the engine, in the front of the car. If the car is driven by it's rear wheels instead of its front wheels, the heavy front end and light back end makes the car prone to slide around an ice- or snow-covered road.
  • Clear off your car each time you go out for maximum visibility. Don't forget the hood, roof, and your head and taillights. Sure it takes a few extra moments, but it's better than dealing with an accident due to poor outward visibility. Also, leftover ice chunks from the roof or hood of the vehicle may become hazardous to yourself and those on the road around you while driving.

On the next page, learn how to stay in control when the roads turn dangerous and what to do if you go off the road.