Winter weather brings unique challenges for drivers. Snow, sleet, freezing rain, and ice make driving difficult. The days are shorter, yet the solar glare off snow can make daytime driving even more difficult. As you prepare for winter, we’ve put together this list of items you should keep in your vehicle to help you in case Old Man Winter tries to ruin your commute. Many of these items should be kept in your car year-round as they can help you in an emergency no matter the weather.
Everyone should have a set of jumper cables in their car, not just in winter. It’s true, cold weather can cause batteries to fail quicker, so if you enter the season with a weak battery, chances are it’ll end up dead before the end of winter. In that case, jumper cables can save the day. Jumper cables cost around $10 to $15, and if you don’t know what they are, you should familiarize yourself with them immediately.
When your car’s battery dies, you can’t start your vehicle. However, if you have jumper cables and a friend, neighbor, or coworker with a car, you can use the jumper cables to start your vehicle. It works by attaching the cables onto the working car’s battery and the other end onto the dead car’s battery. This transfers the electricity from the good battery to the bad battery. Give it a few seconds, rev the good engine, and start the dead car.
This only fixes the problem temporarily, as your battery likely won’t hold a charge. Therefore, the next time you shut your car off, you won’t be able to start it again.
Portable Jump Kit
This takes the jumper cables to the next level, as this kit has a self-contained battery inside it. So if you have a portable jump kit, you don’t need another car. Simply attach the cables to your dead battery and start your car. Prices range from $50 to $150 depending on the size of the battery and other options you might find.
What makes the higher-end jump kits more valuable are the options. Some of these kits have power plugs to plug in everything from a television to a cellphone. Some have USB ports, and some have radios you can use during power outages.
Blankets and Warm Clothing
It’s called a glove box for a reason. Of course, the gloves were initially driving gloves for a better grip on the steering wheel. Today, they seem to hold everything but gloves. Your emergency provisions for winter should include a few pairs of gloves, a warm blanket, and perhaps a sweater or two. Knit caps can also be great should you break down in the severe cold.
The average response time for roadside assistance falls between 35 to 50 minutes. That number goes up when you live in a more wide-open rural area. If you’re stuck in freezing temperatures, you’ll want the warm gear.
First Aid Kit
Drivers often overlook the value of a first aid kit. However, when you break down, you’ll likely try to fix the problem before calling for help, and some people get hurt trying. Many stranded souls have found a first aid kit a welcome addition to their emergency items. Don’t wait until you need one.
image via gearjunkie
Having a flashlight can help with so many things. Trying to change a tire at night might result in you dropping a lug nut and losing it in the dark. A flashlight will help you look around under the hood if needed. Of course, it’s always handy to have a light at night to see in the dark.
Emergency Tool Kit
image via motorbiscuit
Not everyone can fix a vehicle when it breaks down. However, everyone should have a small tool kit to handle the easier jobs. Your kit should include a few screwdrivers, a small socket set, pliers, scissors, electrical or duct tape, and a set of open-end wrenches. Cars have many parts, and often things come loose and need tightening at a minimum. Having a tool kit to handle the small jobs that pop up will help you avoid waiting for roadside assistance to arrive.
If you live in an area that experiences heavy snow, you’ll want some kind of traction board. You can find many varieties of these simple devices. Usually made of heavy-duty plastic, they have raised treads and vary in length from two to four feet. If you’re an off-road enthusiast, you probably already have them. If not, traction boards are a must-have for winter weather.
You simply wedge them under the front of your tires mired in snow, slush, mud, or sand. The board will catch your tire’s tread and provide the traction to get you unstuck. These boards can cost between $75 to $100 on the low end and upwards of $300 for a top-quality set. But, if they get you unstuck just once, they’ve paid for themselves when you consider the cost of a tow truck pulling you out of trouble.
If you break down or find yourself otherwise immobile, you don’t want to be invisible. Road flares, or reflective triangles you can place behind your car, can help other vehicles see you, whether you’re on a busy highway or around the next curve on a dark, deserted road.
For less than $10, you can pick up a set of three flares. You wouldn’t be the first person to buy several sets, as these flares typically don’t last longer than an hour, and some considerably less. However, if they keep another car from rear-ending you in a blizzard or other low-visibility circumstance, it’s worth it.
At Huffines Chevrolet Lewisville, we want you to have a safe winter without breakdowns. However, if the worst should happen, we hope you found our list of emergency items helpful as you assemble your winter emergency kit. If you feel like we left an important item off, please send us an email. We’ll do our best to update our list to keep everyone informed and ready.