5 Ways to Prepare Your Car For Winter Holiday Travel

By: Kaylynn Wornek, UHEAA

With the holidays comes a fair amount of driving. Whether you have a short commute or long drive ahead of you, it’s important to have your vehicle prepared for an emergency. Here are five ways to help prep your car for your upcoming winter travel.


Maintain your car.


Assure that your car is up to date on regular maintenance. When was the last time you changed your oil? Here’s a rule of thumb: you should change your oil every three months or every 3,000 miles. Also, how are your tires? If your tires are bald or have lost a fair amount of tread, they are not safe to drive on. This can result in a loss of control, hydroplaning, blowouts, and understeering. Lastly, driving on bald tires increases your stopping distance.


Know how to change a flat tire, check your fluids, and tire pressure.


Being able to check your own fluids and tire pressure can help prevent further issues with your vehicle such as overheating, tire blowouts, brake or engine failure, or loss of power steering. If you do get a flat tire, having the skill to change one during a snowstorm is critical.


When traveling do your best to be knowledgeable about your vehicle or have a smart, willing passenger with you ready to help.


Use winter windshield fluid and add winter wiper blades.


Switching out your windshield fluid and wiper blades for winter can make a big difference in improving your visibility during a snowstorm. Changing out your summer fluid is important as it will most likely instantly freeze to your windshield, making matters worse. Using winter fluid will help loosen snow and ice from your windshield.


Get your battery checked.


Before going on any travels, have your battery checked. You can easily have your battery checked for free at any automotive store. As the weather get colder, it is more likely for your car to die or need a jump if it has a weak battery.


Keep your car stocked with emergency items.


Here’s a comprehensive list of items we recommend you keep in your car at all times during the winter time. Take a look over this list and plan accordingly before your next trip.


  • Windshield scraper
  • Flashlight
  • Water/Food
  • Extra set of clothes/blanket
  • Hand warmers/space blanket
  • Hat, Gloves, Boots
  • First Aid Kit
  • Road salt, sand, or cat litter
  • Jumper cables
  • Emergency flares/reflectors/signals
  • Seat belt cutter/glass breaker
  • Shovel
  • Cell Phone Charger
  • Fuel Container
  • Spare Tire & Jack
  • Tow Straps
  • Deck of Cards or Book