The early months of the year (in the northern hemisphere), are notorious for bringing the worst of what mother nature has to offer. Driving in such conditions unprepared can be dangerous! So, we’ve compiled a list of five useful items and some tips to help keep yourself and others safer on the road.
A Snow Shovel
Whether you’re clearing snow from your driveway or the roof of your car, a snow shovel is likely to be your tool of choice. It’s the kind of item that will sit untouched in the trunk of your vehicle 360 days of the year, but when you do need to use it, it come in handy.
Prices range from $10-50 depending on the size and quality of the shovel you buy. Alternatively, you can pick one up a second-hand one for as little as a couple of bucks.
Top tip: Always clear your car vehicle roof of any snow before driving. If you don’t do so, you can be fined for endangering other road users and will be liable in the event of an accident.
Antifreeze & Engine Coolant
The last thing you want during a cold snap is for the water in your engine’s cooling system to freeze. Such an event can cause damage to components, such as the radiator. They cost a small fortune to fix.
Thankfully, there’s a solution at hand: engine coolant. This magical liquid, which can be purchased at any gas station for around five bucks, can lower the freezing point of water to around -37°C. Add it to your radiator reservoir after your engine has had time to cool down. (First check to see if it needs to be mixed with water).
Top tip: Tap water can contain suspended particles or minerals that are harmful to engine components. Therefore, it’s best to mix your coolant with water that has been distilled.
There’s nothing worse than being late for work and having to wait for your car’s central heating system to defrost your windscreen.
One solution to speeding up this process comes in the form of an ice scraper. They can cost as little as a couple of bucks from convenience stores. They help you to clear your screen in a matter of minutes.
Top tip: Don’t use an old CD case or any other D.I.Y contraption to help clear your windscreen of ice. These can break and cause harm to you or damage your car.
New Wiper Blades
Snow, hail, rain, you name it, winter brings it. There’s nothing worse than driving in these difficult conditions than with worn out wipers, that leave behind a smeared mess.
New wiper blade pairs or rubbers can be picked up from a local automotive center or online for $10-20. Some auto centers will even fit these onto your vehicle for a small fee.
Top tip: Using your wipers to clear ice from your windscreen will damage the rubbers. Make sure your screen is thoroughly defrosted before attempting to do so.
The popularity of all-season tires is increasing thanks to their improving performance in both warm and cold conditions. They can improve your car’s grip in icy conditions, making it easier to pull away and to avoid heart-stopping skids.
Winter weather tires, are still the better option if you live in a part of the world where snowfall is a common occurrence throughout the colder months.
Top tip: Can’t afford to invest in a set of winter tires? Try out snow socks instead. They are easy to fit and carry around, making them perfect for climates where a covering of snow is a rare occurrence.
Other useful items to keep with you:
- A torch
- Warm clothing
- A portable power bank to charge your cell phone
- Food and drink