Winter Car Tips: 12 Things You Should Always Have in Your Car During the Winter

Winter driving can be nerve-racking and often dangerous. If you're heading out into the snow and ice, here are 12 things you should always keep in your car during the winter months.

1 / 12
winter car tips ice-scraper

Ice Scraper

Let’s first state the obvious: Ice scrapers are the most essential winter car-care tool out there. Use one to clear off the snow and the ice, and don’t forget to clean off your front and back lights before you hit the road.

Photo: rodimov/Shutterstock

2 / 12
flashlight in the dark


A flashlight is a good addition to your glove compartment and can come in handy if you need to get out of the car in the dark to change a tire, check under the hood or just need to flag someone down. Look for one that is weatherproof so it can be used in all weather conditions.

Photo: MargoLev/Shutterstock

3 / 12


Invest in an extra shovel and keep it in your trunk for peace of mind. It will come in handy if you ever find yourself stuck in a snowbank, a ditch or just find a bunch of snow pushed up against your car thanks to a snow plow. If you’re tight on trunk space, consider a folding shovel or one with a collapsible handle.

Photo: oticki/Shutterstock

4 / 12
jumper cables
Nor Gal/Shutterstock

Jumper Cables

Jumper cables will come in handy, especially if you live in an area where it gets very cold during the winter (or if you’re just prone to forgetting to turn the headlights off). Before using the cables, make sure you know how to use them safely.

Photo: Nor Gal/Shutterstock

5 / 12
Tire Pressure Gauge
John Panella/Shutterstock

Tire Pressure Gauge

Cold weather can impact the air in your tires, so keep a tire pressure gauge handy. By checking the pressure on a regular basis and keeping tires at the right pressure level, you’ll help your tires last longer and get better gas mileage.

Photo: John Panella/Shutterstock

6 / 12
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Cat Litter

If you get stuck in the snow and your wheels are spinning, cat litter can help if it’s spread underneath the tires. Keep a box in your trunk or in the backseat to help give you some extra traction when you need it most.

Photo: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

7 / 12
plaid blanket


If you become stranded in the winter, it’s going to get cold fast. Keep a heavy blanket in your car just in case.

Photo: RG-vc/Shutterstock

8 / 12
Casezy idea/Shutterstock

Phone Charger

The last thing you want if you get stuck somewhere is for your phone to have a dead battery. Keep a phone charger in your car at all times, not just during the winter months.

Photo: Casezy idea/Shutterstock

9 / 12
Emergency Escape Tool
sarawut muensang/Shutterstock

Emergency Escape Tool

An emergency escape tool is inexpensive and will fit in your glove compartment or some can be kept on a key chain. These tools can be used to break glass, cut seat belts and some even have a flashlight, sirens or offer backup USB power for a cell phone. You never want to need this tool but it’s best to be prepared for anything.

Photo: sarawut muensang/Shutterstock

10 / 12
Michael Kraus/Shutterstock

Carpet Remnant

Keep a carpet remnant square in the car in case you need it for some extra traction. A piece of cardboard can also work. A car floor mat can also work in a pinch.

Photo: Michael Kraus/Shutterstock

11 / 12
toilet paper
Jiri Hera/Shutterstock

Roll of Toilet Paper

You may laugh now, but you won’t be laughing if you ever find yourself stranded for a long period of time. Keep a roll of toilet paper in your glove compartment. It will also come in handy if you get a runny nose or need to clean up a small spill.

Photo: Jiri Hera/Shutterstock

12 / 12

Duct Tape

What can’t you use duct tape for? A roll of duct tape kept in the car can be used as a quick bandage if you can’t find your first aid kit, you can wrap it around the tops of your boots to keep the snow out and you can use it to tape together a bunch of roadside debris (sticks, bags, etc.) to form a mat to provide traction under the tires if you’re stuck on snow or ice.

Photo: Coprid/Shutterstock

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

Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.