Which Essential Tools Will Help You and Your Car Survive Another Wintertime Commute?
Winter driving is a necessary evil for those of us destined to battle it out on the highways for another long, dark season. Being proactive can make things easier on you. Making a list of must-have items and keeping them in your car can ensure you’re ready for anything the season throws at you.
Today, we’re going to break down a few winter essentials that could come in clutch. From stuff to keep you warm, to tools to help you get unstuck, here’s our list of essential tools to help you and your vehicle survive another wintertime commute.
A Sturdy Ice Scraper
Scraping the ice off your windshield is never fun. It can be worse though. Just ask anyone who’s ever had to do it with a flimsy, half-broken scraper. Do yourself a favor and invest in a quality ice scraper. Even the good ones are under $50, so don’t hesitate to buy a new one or replace one that’s giving you trouble. Whatever it takes to ensure every bit of ice and snow is off your vehicle before you put it in drive.
A High-Quality Travel Mug
There’s no bones about it, travel mugs are essential to winter survival. The good ones keep your drinks as warm or cold as needed. They use better materials, don’t spill, and are usually much easier to clean. Though it might be true that cheaper alternatives exist, a high-quality travel mug from a popular brand like Yeti, Klean Kanteen, or Contigo is a simple pleasure that will make a difference on your drive.
Jumper cables are a good thing to have all year round. They are particularly of use in the winter time though. Car batteries run better in the warmer months, and have a tendency to die more often when it’s cold out. Jumper cables are easy to store, widely available, and cost less than $30. Invest in some now, and drive with the confidence that comes with proper preparation.
A Foldable Shovel
Collapsible shovels can get you out of a bind in the wintertime, that’s for sure. Having one of these reliable, storage-friendly tools at the ready is about the only way to dig yourself out of the snow when you’re away from home. Don’t wait until your vehicle is plowed in while parked or your tires are aimlessly spinning and you need to clear space to find traction.
Water and Non-Perishables
Keeping a case of water and some snacks in your car is a winter driving must. You never know when traffic or poor road conditions could keep you from getting to where you need to be. And being stranded is always made worse by being hungry or thirsty. Granola, cereal bars, and jerky should keep well all season. As for water, opt for plastic bottles to avoid a mess and broken glass when the temperature inevitably sinks below freezing.
A Warm Change of Clothes
You don’t have to be stuck on the side of the road to make use of a change of warm clothes. Sometimes the cold catches you off guard, while other times your socks get wet. Whatever the case, a warm change of clothes in the trunk of your car will, one way or another, come in handy this season. So do your future self a favor and plan ahead.
Yes, kitty litter. Non-clumping cat litter provides stuck tires with extra traction when they need it most. Kitty litter isn’t going to pull you out of extreme conditions, but pouring some on the snowy or icy ground does help boost traction. A heavy bag or box in the trunk can help ground lighter vehicles, which enhances contact with the road and benefits traction and control on ice and snow.
Investing in a quality set of winter tires is an absolute must. They rely on a combination of special treads and a special chemical compound in the tread rubber to help reduce braking distances on roads that are cold, wet, snowy, and ice covered. Getting them properly installed could save you as much as 10 percent on your vehicle insurance too. So give yourself all the tools you can by investing in a quality set of winter tires before that first snowfall.
New Wiper Blades
New wiper blades are reasonably priced and can greatly enhance visibility. Especially if it’s been a while since they’ve been replaced. In truth, they should be replaced every six months, or when they no longer adequately clear moisture or produce noticeable streaks. Either way, switching in a new set of blades ahead of the ice and snow is always a good call. Avoid costly labor charges and opt to replace them yourself.
Flashlights are always handy. You never know when you might be stuck in the dark, or need to shine a light under the hood. They’re inexpensive and easy to store. We suggest a wind-up flashlight. They’re equally inexpensive, and eliminate the need to keep it stocked with fresh and working batteries. Order a set of four, and store them in different locations, for just $10.99.
Slow and Steady!
Being equipped with the right tools to survive a wintertime commute is the first step. The only thing left to do now is drive safely. Avoid abrupt turns and stopping too quickly, drive in accordance with the conditions of the road, and never drive too close to the vehicle ahead of you.
You’d do well to stay on top of the weather forecasts and avoid traveling during extreme weather events and slippery road conditions. If you must travel, stick to major roadways as those are typically the first to be cleared, salted, and safe.