Winter Car Emergency Kit & Accessories
Winter is definitely here and when it comes to Winter driving, the old adage runs true: fail to prepare and prepare to fail. Making sure that you have the right things stocked up in your trunk will ensure you’re ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at you.
Winter Car Emergency kit
Not sure where to start? Is your ‘Winter emergency kit’ currently your cell phone? Don’t worry, we’ve got a list of items we think you should include this Winter. 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 this Winter to make sure you’re always prepared.
A Blanket or Winter Coat
A blanket or spare jacket is something you should, ideally keep in your car all year round. If you break down in the middle of the night or on a snowy trip into work the first thing that’s turning off? Your heating. Plus, you may have to walk somewhere to get help or find a phone and you’ll sure thank your past self for giving you a jacket to throw on.
It may sound like it’s going to take up a bunch of space you don’t have, but blankets are #1 on our list for things to keep in your car during winter for numerous (and practical) reasons. Waiting for the tow truck to turn up? You got your coat to keep you warm. Stuck in the snow? You can put your coat/blanket under the wheels to gain traction. Waiting at the side of the road? You can put the blanket on the floor to protect your behind. There are some great light-weight jackets and blankets in camping stores, so that you can fold this up tight in your trunk, in the knowledge that it’s there just in case.
Food & Water
This is a no brainer. Keeping a bottle of water and a cereal bar in your trunk or glove box can be a Godsend when you’re stuck in a blizzard. Bottled water will keep for years and cereal bars and cookies have a pretty long shelf-life if you keep them in a Ziploc bag. Just don’t forget to re-fill your supplies if you get hungry on the way home from work one day…
First Aid Kit
You should really have this in your car all year round. Of course, Winter does pose its 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 cell phone 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.
De-Icer & 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.
While you’re at the store, pick up some de-icer. They’re not too pricey, should last you a few Winters and will save you a ton of time. Although pouring hot water over your windshield sounds like a cheaper and quicker option, hitting frozen glass with a shock of hot water can cause it to crack. Plus, all that water that runs off your car ends up on your driveway and then freezes, making your driveway the neighborhood’s newest ice rink.
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. It also reduces the distance and duration of a slide if you happen to lose traction. If you drive a flatbed truck, it can help with weight distribution, helping to weigh down your car and prevent it from spinning in the event of a slide. Second, in the event you find yourself stuck in mud, a snow drift, or (especially) on ice, kitty litter can be poured under your drive tires to help you gain traction.
Winter Car Accessories
If you live in an area with a particularly cold climate (I’m talking to you, North Dakota) you might want to do a bit more than a blanket and a bottle of water. Making permanent changes to your car can really help you out in the long run. 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, but if you want some crazier varieties check out our shortlist here.
Remote Car Starter
Christmas is one of the most popular times of the year for buying remote car starters. 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. You can find some great deals at both automotive stores and big box retailers. Or take your key to your car dealer and buy one directly from the manufacturer. 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
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. It even has a light on the handle so you can make sure you remove all the ice on your windshield, even in low light. Fancy.
You might expect that giving the gift of a warm posterior would be expensive. We were surprised to find that it isn’t. 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.
If you 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 good investment. 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.
If owning two sets of tires is outside your budget (and storage capacity) there’s always tire chains. Tire chains will help your car get traction in snow and ice and are a great substitute for Winter 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.
Whether you want to make a permanent modification to your car or just stash a blanket in the trunk, being prepared for the Winter weather is vital. Even more important? Making sure that you have a good car insurance policy to cover you if the worst should happen. Get a quote today and compare quotes for free.