Prepare your car for winter travel
In honor of September National Preparedness Month, I’m participating in the 30 Days of Preparedness round robin with the Prepared Bloggers network. Keep reading to the bottom of the post to see what the Prepared Bloggers have have linked up!
I’ve said it before, I’m not so much a prepper as I am a girl who believes in practical preparedness; which is why moving back to Colorado in our 2 wheel drive family car has spurred on my need to make sure we have everything in order for winter travel. Always prepare for the worst possible weather and circumstances that could happen in your area. Winter storms are always worse when you’re out in them than what the weather man tells you to expect while your home, warm and snug.
There are certain things everyone should know how to do when it comes to their vehicle. I once worked for a woman who had never put gas in her car, she didn’t even know how, and the worst part was that she was proud of this fact. She only filled up at stations that had a full service attendant or she would call her husband or her elderly father to take care of it for her. Sorry but could you imagine being that dependent on others? Aye yai yai!
My old boss is an extreme example, but there are other relatively basic things we should all know how to do and have at least practiced once like changing a flat tire, checking the fluids, adding oil, antifreeze, transmission and other fluids. That sort of thing. I’m not saying you need to know how to change a distributer cap or anything like that but being able to jump start your car with battery cables is a plus!
Prepare car for winter travel by winterizing
A lot can go wrong out on the road, and winter weather can magnify any existing problems with your vehicle. The following list is from carcare.org on winterizing your vehicle and is a good guide on where to start with preparing your car for winter travel.
- Check for adequate tire tread and a tread design made for wet, slushy, or snow packed roads. Traditionally, tread is tested by placing a penny in the tread facing you with Lincoln’s head down. If you could see the penny above the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires; however, it is recommended to replace tires before that point when driving in wet, slushy or snowy conditions.
- While you’re checking all four tires, check the condition of the spare tire as well as the jack. Do you know how to get to your spare tire and jack? Have you practiced?
- Check your tire pressure regularly. I don’t know the science behind it, but what I do know is that cold weather makes tires lose pressure and inadequate tire pressure can be dangerous.
- Have your battery checked. Cold weather is hard on batteries, it can drain one overnight in the coldest of temps.
- Check that all the exterior lights (brakes, taillights, signals, driving lights) work and the headlights are aimed properly. Blizzards are hard enough to see in, don’t be flying blind out there!
- Check antifreeze levels and top off if necessary. It’s recommended to flush the coolant system every two years.
- Make sure the heater, defroster, and windshield wipers are working properly.
- Have the oil and filters changed. Consider using a winter weight oil if you live or travel in super cold temps.
- If the vehicle is due for a tune up, get it done before the cold sets in. Any problems will be magnified when it’s cold outside!
- Have the brakes checked. You don’t want to be dealing with a squirly feeling braking system on icy roads.
- Have the exhaust system checked for leaks. This can be especially dangerous during the winter in warming idle cars and driving with the windows rolled up.
- Have all hoses and belts checked.
- Check with the dealership for any recalls that may have come up that you weren’t alerted of.
Prepare your car for winter travel by building an emergency kit
Now that the car is all squared away to brave the winter roads, now it’s time to square away yourself for winter travel. The following list is a good place to start to build your winter car emergency kit. You might want to think about what changes you need to make to the list to accommodate your personal needs and circumstances. For example, if you’re traveling with an infant you might want to add extra formula and diapers to the list, or if you have special medications that you can’t miss a dose of, you may want to have a spare couple of doses in your winter car emergency kit.
- Extra coats, hats, gloves, and socks.
- Cell phone, charger and extra batteries.
- A down sleeping bag or at least extra blankets
- A brightly colored or neon colored car cover. If you become stranded, it will aid searchers in spotting you.
- Flashlights with extra batteries
- Fire starter, magnesium lighter, waterproof matches, flint…
- Food that doesn’t need to be heated to eat, preferably food that’s high in protein so it’ll “stick” longer.
- A nonelectric can opener if your packing canned food
- Extra water
- A can or pot to melt snow in for water
- Jumper cables
- Camping shovel
- 2 sandbags, one on each side of the car near the rear wheel wells. Not only will the sandbags aid in extra traction, but if you get stuck you can use the sand under the tires for traction.
- Tire chains
- Rope or a chain long enough to use as a towrope
- Emergency flairs
- Compressed air with sealant for emergency flat repair.
- First aid kit
- Leatherman or SwissArmy type knife
- Tool kit for the car
- Battery powered radio
- Always tell someone where you’re going and what time you expect to be there and check in with them when you arrive. Tell them what route you’re planning to take and alert them of any changes to the plan.
- Stick to well traveled roads.
- If the weather is bad, try not to travel.
- If you become stranded, stay with your car and only leave the cab to fetch things from the trunk, never try to walk out or get help.
- Don’t let the gas gauge get below a half a tank while traveling in winter weather.
- Conserve cell phone battery life, recharge it when it hits 50% power.
It’s a long one, but an important one! Prepare now then you can play later!
Until next time, stay awesome!
September is National Preparedness Month and The Prepared Bloggers are at it again!
It’s safe to say that our ultimate goal is to help you have an emergency kit, a family plan, and the knowledge to garden, preserve your harvest and use useful herbs every day – without spending a ton of money to do it. Luckily that’s obtainable for every family and a journey we would love to help you with.
This year we have posts about food storage, 72-hour Kits & Bug Out Bags, and every aspect of preparedness, from water storage to cooking off grid. You’ll also find many ideas to help you be more self-reliant. Look for information on the big giveaway we’ve put together for later in the month.
Be sure to visit our sites and learn as much as you can about being prepared. We’ll be using the hashtag #30DaysOfPrep for these and many other ideas throughout the month of September, so join in the conversation and make 2015 the year you become prepared.