Take charge of your battery and electrical system

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Nothing saps a battery like the cold. And nothing saps the human spirit like a car that won’t start or gives out on the road. Before heading to the grandparents, have your car’s battery, charging system and alternator checked. 


Check the condition and level of the antifreeze/coolant

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It’s essential for keeping the car from overheating or getting too cold. While you’re at it, check the belts and hoses, too. 


Examine the tires

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You wouldn’t go out in the ice or snow without the right footwear. Likewise, you shouldn’t hit the highway without the proper wheels. Check the depth of the tread on all-season tires and make sure they’re inflated at the proper pressure. Live in an area with serious winter weather? Seriously consider dedicated snow tires. 


Improve your vision

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Check that your front and back windshield wipers (which can be compromised by the heat of the scorching summer months) are effective. Also look to see if there’s enough windshield washer fluid (not water, which will freeze) in the windshield washer reservoir. 


Bone up on your driving skills

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Learn how to handle the car on hazardous winter roads by practicing in an empty parking lot. 


Avoid running on (or close to) empty

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Keep enough fuel in the car at all times in case you meet up with some bad weather and can’t get to a gas station. That way, if you’re stranded, you can still keep the car running and interior heated. 


Stock the trunk

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Keep a working flashlight, warm clothes, gloves, and water in the car, should ice, sleet or snow stop you cold. In severely-affected areas, keep chains and kitty litter on hand to provide traction.