I’m Jerry Reynolds, host of the Car Pro Radio show, here with some tips on how to prep for winter road trips. From getting your car ready, to organizing your travel plans, this checklist will help you get squared away before hitting the road.
#1: KNOW YOUR CAR
It sounds simple, but every vehicle handles differently, so take the time to know how your car handles in ice or snow. Especially if it’s a rental. Also get up to speed on how all-wheel-drive works, if you have it. We have an AWD video explainer here.
#2: CHECK YOUR BATTERY
Under the hood, make sure you have a good battery. Cold weather can zap battery power and you already need more of it to begin with when temperatures drop. Before your trip, have a mechanic look at the voltage, amperage and reserve capacity. Have the charging system and belts inspected…. And tighten connections.
#3: CHECK YOUR COOLANT
Coolant protects your engine from freezing. A 50-to-50 mix of coolant to water works in most regions of the country. It’s usually pre-mixed that way if you buy it at the store — or simply have a mechanic filler ‘er up.
#4: HAVE PLENTY OF WINDSHIELD WIPER FLUID
Stock up on windshield wiper fluid. You can go through it quickly in a snowstorm. Keep an extra bottle in the car.
#5: PLAN YOUR ROUTE
Now let’s talk route planning. Familiarize yourself with maps and directions before you go, even if you have GPS on your smartphone or in the car. And print out hard copies in the event technology fails.
#6: COMMUNICATE YOUR PLANS
Share your route info with family and friends. And give them your estimated arrival time.
#7: STOCK YOUR VEHICLE WITH SUPPLIES
Finally, stock your vehicle. You know the drill. Bring along a de-icer, ice scraper, jumper cables, and a flashlight, along with other things you’d need in emergencies like food and blankets. Kitty litter can also come in handy. It gives you traction if you wind up getting stuck in the snow.