Winter Car Emergency Kit & Accessories
Winter is definitely here and the gift-giving season is rapidly approaching. Compare.com has some great gift ideas for what to get those friends and family members who live in areas where winter driving is a seasonal hardship. Make their life better and easier with these great winter car accessories for drivers.
Winter Car Emergency Kit
One of the best gifts you can buy someone is the one they hope they’ll never have to use: a winter car emergency kit. It’s terrible to be stranded on the road under any circumstances, but wintry conditions only make this worse. Even if you never use it, a winter car emergency kit will at least give you peace of mind. Here’s what you need to keep in your car in winter to make sure you’re always prepared.
A cold-weather blanket
This may sound obvious, or it may sound like it’s going to take up a bunch of space you don’t have, but blankets are number one on our list for things to keep in your car during winter for numerous (and practical) reasons—not the least of which is to keep you warm without wasting your car’s gas or battery in the event you get a flat tire or have mechanical or electrical problems.
First Aid Kit
Honestly, this is important to have in your car all year round. Of course winter does pose it’s own particular risks. Aside from bandages, ointment, and the standard first aid fare, it’s a good idea to have a cold-weather focused first aid kit that includes hand and foot warmers, and a reflective heat blanket. Chemical glow sticks are a plus, as are flares and a backup cellphone charger.
Emergency Car Repair Kit
This can take up a bit of space but in winter, when waiting for a tow isn’t always a good idea, this can get you moving more quickly. A good car repair kit should have a can of tire sealant for repairing flats, jumper cables, and your basic tools such as a wrench, screwdriver (Phillips and flathead), and a hammer. It’s also a good idea to keep an extra quart of oil with you, too.
An Ice Scraper
Yeah, this is a really obvious one, but an ice scraper is just one of those things you never want to be without when you really need it. You can waste a fair amount of gas by trying to defrost a frozen car with just the heat and defroster. Don’t waste gas, pack your ice scraper.
A Bag of Kitty Litter
Some folks know exactly why we’d suggest this. For those who don’t, kitty litter serves two extremely helpful purposes. First, it adds weight to your car which can help with traction and reduce the distance and duration of a slide if you happen to lose traction (it also helps with weight distribution which can prevent your car from spinning in the event of a slide). Second, in the event you find yourself stuck in mud or a snow drift, or especially on ice, kitty litter can be poured under your drive tires to help you gain traction (see this how-to guide for getting your car out of the snow).
What to Get the Person Who Has Everything
If the person on your list lives in a cold climate, they may already have a winter car emergency kit covered. We’ve found some great gifts that they may not already have (or even know exist). The best part is that the list is remarkably affordable. Car accessories in general can run the gamut from inexpensive to extraordinarily lavish and costly. We did our best to keep it simple and accessible with this list of winter car accessories that will be welcomed by most any driver who gets seasonal winter weather.
Remote Car Starter
Christmas is actually one of the most popular times of the year for buying remote car starters; which makes sense because in many places throughout the US the cold weather has been around just long enough that people are sick of getting into their freezing cars and waiting for them to warm up. This time of year, you can find some great deals at both automotive stores and big box retailers. Give your friends and family the gift that says, “I care about your thermal well-being” with a remote car starter. We found some great deals ourselves, with remote car starter kits as low as $79.99. Of course, we highly recommend a professional installation, which could cost you a bit extra. Still, it’s a great gift to give because in winter no one wants to wait for their car’s heater to warm up.
Heated Ice Scraper
We know, this sounds about as practical as a piano key necktie… but once we tried one out, we weren’t about to go back. The heated ice scraper plugs into the 12-volt outlet in your car and in just a couple minutes it’s ready to go. It removes ice far more quickly than a traditional ice scraper and the one we found at Sharper Image comes with a rubber squeegee for wicking away the remaining water (so you don’t have a re-freeze while driving) and a light on the handle so you can make sure you remove all the ice on your windshield, even in low light. The Sharper Image scraper was among the more expensive ones we found, but it only cost $39.95. You could find a less expensive heated ice scraper by removing the extra features like the light and squeegee.
You might expect that giving the gift of a warm posterior would be expensive. We were surprised to find that it wasn’t. In actuality, installing heated seats in a car that doesn’t currently have them is rather affordable. If you opt for the seat cover route, it gets especially affordable. A nice-looking heated seat cover will only set you back about $50 for a good quality product. If you’re just looking for a quick fix, some models go as low as $30. For drivers who prefer to maintain the look of their interior, your cost may rise to the $200-300 range for the hardware, plus additional fees for installation. Never underestimate the gratitude you’ll receive from someone whose bottom has been saved from freezing temperatures.
This gift is for the person on your list who wants a “practical gift”. Something they need, but won’t spend the money on themselves. If they happen to live in an area that experiences a lot of winter weather (ice, snow, slush, etc.) then a set of winter tires could be a very welcome gift indeed. Winter tires are designed to deal with just this sort of terrain and provide improved safety and reliability in those conditions. Of course, using them in the off season will likely reduce the fuel efficiency of vehicles, which is why it’s best to have a separate set of both warm-weather and cold-weather tires. Depending on the size and brand of the tire, you could expect to spend $200 to $1000—but who can put a price on safety?
If this is outside of your budget, there’s always tire chains. Tire chains will help ensure that your car keeps traction in snow and ice and are a great substitute for winter tires. They are also a better solution for someone who may not have the storage space for a set of four tires.
Heated Wiper Blades
These actually exist. Perhaps more surprising is their price: $150-200. Again, this is best suited to someone who lives in an area that experiences a lot of winter weather. The idea is that heated wipers will help prevent your windshield from freezing up when driving in snow, sleet, or freezing rain.
Didn’t Find What You Were Looking For?
Maybe you’re seeking something a little more unique? We can do that, too. Of course, unique often comes with a higher price tag, but as usual you can expect us to bring you the most bang for your buck. If you didn’t find a winter car accessory that fits your gift-giving needs, give this list a chance. We did some extra deep digging on this one to ensure that the gift ideas included here are truly unique (though not necessarily practical). We think you’ll find something to your liking.