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14 Ways to Get Your Car Ready for Winter

Vehicle safety is important during winter weather conditions, especially if you have to drive on icy or snowy road. Here's how to winterize your car for colder days and make the driving easier on you.

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Practice Your Winter Driving SkillsFamily Handyman

Practice Your Winter Driving Skills

Be mindful of your driving habits and how they need to change on icy roads. Going slow around corners, tapping your brakes, giving other cars plenty of space and similar skills can help keep you safe.
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Change Your Wiper BladesFamily Handyman

Change Your Wiper Blades

Wiper blades can crack and split over time, leading to slow, squeaky blades that don't perform well. And that's the last thing you want for rainy or snowy winter weather. Change your wiper blades to winterize your car and consider buying more durable winter-ready wiper blades if you live in a harsher climate.
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Prepare Your Wiper FluidFamily Handyman

Prepare Your Wiper Fluid

Make sure that your wiper fluid reservoir is full so that you are ready to wash away winter grime. If temperatures drop close to freezing in your area, then look for wiper fluid that has antifreeze properties to winterize your car.
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Check Tire Air PressureFamily Handyman

Check Tire Air Pressure

Take a look at the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle model and refill any of your tires so that they reach the recommended pressure. This will help you deal with icy road conditions more reliably. Home air compressors are affordable and a good safety investment.
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Track Your Tire Tread DurabilityFamily Handyman

Track Your Tire Tread Durability

If you will be using the same tires during the winter months, check the treads to make sure they aren't worn down. The classic test is to take a penny and insert it in your grooves, Lincoln's head facing down. If you can still see all of Lincoln's head, your tires are balding and it's probably time to replace them to winterize your car. And there are also professional measuring tools you can use.
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Switch Over to Winter Tires if NecessaryJevanto Productions/Shutterstock

Switch Over to Winter Tires if Necessary

Snow tires and all-season tires provide extra traction to help cover icy terrain and to winterize your car. If your local city allows these tires, look to see where and when they are recommended. Changing your tires over a couple times a year is worthwhile in snowy areas. And this may be required by law in bad conditions.
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Make Sure You Have Winter Tools in Your CarFamily Handyman

Make Sure You Have Winter Tools in Your Car

Pack your ice scraper, booster cables, gloves and other important winter morning tools in your car for easy access. For deeper snow, you may want to include a shovel for clearing paths and cat litter for improving traction on the ground. It's smart to winterize your car with these tools before the snow hits.
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Check Your BatteryFamily Handyman

Check Your Battery

Extreme temperatures can affect batteries, so you should make sure that your battery is clean. And that the connections are secure and not corroded. If it's an older battery, consider getting it tested and possibly replaced before the weather gets bad to winterize your car.
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Change Your OilFamily Handyman

Change Your Oil

Older oil will be even more sluggish in winter thanks to the combination of cold and contaminants. Avoid the problem by replacing your oil before the chilly months come to winterize your car.
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Clean and Treat Your DoorsFamily Handyman

Clean and Treat Your Doors

Sometimes doors can get stuck in cold weather conditions. You can fix this problem by cleaning your doors thoroughly and applying a light layer of oil or another lubricant to the edge of your car doors. This works to winterize your car for your hood and trunk, too.
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Keep Your Coolant FreshFamily Handyman

Keep Your Coolant Fresh

You can guess by the name that antifreeze is pretty important in the winter. This is because it prevents your engine from freezing up. And is an important step to winterize your car. Coolant should be changed every few years to keep it fresh, clean and effective. You can take your car in for a coolant test if you aren't sure how dirty it is.
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Flush Your HeaterFamily Handyman

Flush Your Heater

"Flushing" a heater refers to cleaning out heater core tubes. This is done so that your heater can use its own coolant supply to heat air quickly. If you're tired of waiting in a chilly car that never seems to warm up, think about flushing your heater system as well. This is a smart way to winterize your car for your personal comfort.
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Pack a Survival BagFamily Handyman

Pack a Survival Bag

If there's a chance that you could get stranded, you'll also need a survival pack to winterize your car. This should include basics like first aid supplies, water, food, road flares, a crank flashlight, a charger for your phone, blankets and durable food items.
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Check Your BrakesFamily Handyman

Check Your Brakes

Check your brake fluid and refill if necessary to make sure your brakes are ready to operate in freezing conditions. If your brakes are whining frequently, your brake pads are wearing down and should also be replaced. These Winter driving tips for winterizing your car are essential for when the roads get icy. Here is a car maintenance checklist for Spring.

Up next, learn more about the ideal tire pressure in Winter.