<Winter Driving in slick road conditions
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Preparing A Home
Auto Preparation
Driving on Slick Roads
Wind Chill
Cold Injuries
Plan B - Survival




Preparing For and Driving in Winter Conditions

Preparing Your Auto

  The following are the basic steps to preparing your auto for cold winter temperatures.

Have your car serviced and have all these things done, the cost should be minimal (usually less than $50.00 in most places in the U.S.)

  • Change your oil and make sure to get the right viscosity, which is the word that describes how thick the oil is. Most oils available are multi-viscosity. Look in the Owners Manual to find the proper engine oil weight.
  • Check the belts. At the same time as the oil is being changed have the belts checked to be sure they are not cracked or worn. A broken belt can leave you stranded on the side of the road.
  • Check Engine Coolant Level and Strength. While having the above work done have the engine coolant level and strength checked. The level is the amount of coolant that is in the system. The strength of the coolant is how much protection is provided by the antifreeze against freezing or boiling over. Both must be at proper levels.
  • Check The Tires. Check the pressure in tires, they can deflate when the outside temperatures drop. If the tires are badly worn replace them with at a minimum a good all season tire. A tire for driving in wintry conditions may be advisable depending on where you live. Your local tire dealer can help you make these decisions.
  • Check Wiper Blades. Replace them if they are worn.
  • Fill Windshield Washer Fluid. Use a cleaner designed for this plain water will freeze and not work.
  • Check Battery and Cables. Check the cables for corrosion, clean with a battery cleaner if needed. Have the battery checked if it is three years old or older to see if acid levels are correct. Batteries often fail with little or no warning. Have it tested to be sure it can hold a charge properly at a local repair shop.
  • Check Belts and Hoses. Hoses often begin to swell at their ends before failure. There are large hoses connected to the top and bottom of the radiator. These often fail first. There are also hoses leading to the wall at the back of the engine compartment. These hoses carry hot water to the heater inside the car. If there are swollen spots on a hose, it's a good indication the hose needs replacing.
  • Always take a charged cell phone with numbers, to call for help. Consider a prepaid type if only for temporary use.
  • Stock A Winter Emergency Car Kit.
    • a blanket
    • an ice scraper with a brush
    • some leak proof plastic bags
    • a small folding shovel
    • a good flashlight and extra batteries.
    • a small battery powered radio and extra batteries
    • flares
    • jumper cables
    • a tool kit with screw drivers, a razor utility knife, small socket set, pliers and wrenches.
    • tire chains if needed for the area traveled
    • a tire pressure gauge
    • A large can of tire inflator and sealant. (not a small can)
    • a first-aid kit with good tweezers and small magnifying glass  included
    • paper towels
    • a bag of abrasive material such as sand, salt or clay type kitty litter, which can provide additional traction if a tires can't get traction..
    • Take Brightly colored (florescent orange) wide plastic ribbon. Tie it to the car antenna if to notify others of a problem.

    If the weather is bad or may get bad,  put these items in the vehicle.

  • warm boots and gloves
  • an extra set of warm clothes (a large size that will fit over your normal clothing.)
  • ready to eat  high-energy foods, such as granola bars, raisins,  peanut butter, cookies, nuts and crackers along. Also bottled water, six liters per person, ration it to 2 liters per day in a emergency. Take plenty of snacks (your favorites, they can always be eaten later).

Include these items and all items above, if traveling in remote areas with little civilization on highways or back roads.

  • A Whistle
  • several Shake up type hand warmers.
  • a good book
  • state maps or map book covering travel areas.
  • a compass
  • water purifying tablets
  • a small manual can opener.
  • 1 spool masons string.
  • A small Backpack (can be used to store some of the items.)
  • A 10'X12' Tarp or small Hiking Tent
  • 50' 1/4" Nylon Rope
  • small fish hooks, small split shot sinkers and a spool of 10lb. fishing line.
  • a lighter or waterproof matches
  • a Wire Saw (available where camping equipment is sold.)
  • Radiator hose repair kits for large and small hoses.
  • Premixed radiator coolant. (Note Radiator coolant is deadly poisonous!)
  • Tow Rope (long)
  • (2) 30 Hour survival candles.


You'll learn more on the stranded in winter page about some of the items in the list. First continue to the bottom of the page.

  • Make sure all items are properly located in the Auto to replace a flat tire, including a good, properly inflated spare tire. Check the Owners Manual for the procedure of changing a flat tire.
  • Keep the gas tank full. Throw in some food, snacks and drinks if  traveling out of town.
  • Be prepared if stranded to contact others for help with a fully charged cell phone and a phone charger in the auto.

Driving on Slick Roads.

  1. Slow Down going to fast on ice and snow can turn deadly in a split second without any warning. Once control is lost it may be impossible to regain it.
  2. Do Not Use the cruise control.
  3. Stay on well traveled roads. Do not venture onto side roads or short cuts.
  4. If four wheel drive is available, then use it. Make sure to engage it properly. Improperly jamming into four wheel drive or driving to fast in lower gears could do lasting damage or failure.
  5. Choose to drive a four wheel drive vehicle first. If not available then choose a front wheel drive vehicle. Drive a rear wheel drive vehicle as a last resort.
  6. Don't make sudden actions such as turning, accelerating or stopping.
  7. When starting out, do so slowly, once tires begin spinning they have little traction. The goal is to start moving without spinning the tires.
  8. Don't park or a down hill slope against a curb or parking barrier. Don't stop on a uphill climb or slope.
  9. Adding weight in the back of a rear wheel drive vehicle will help gain traction.
  10. Remember, whether in four wheel drive or not, stopping and skidding are the same as two wheel drive. Slow Down, if sliding begins, quickly let off of the accelerator, if while breaking, a slide is felt, let off the brake momentarily and correct the steering.
  11. If the rear end starts to slide to one side or the other remember to turn into the direction that the rear end of the vehicle is sliding. This will straighten things out. Turning the wrong way will cause the vehicle to spin.
  12. Leave more space than is required to stop, stopping may be very difficult.
  13. If the front end starts going off course, let off the break or accelerator and continue steering in the correct direction.
  14. If the car gets stuck and can't get traction, put it in neutral , then get out and throw the clay kitty litter under the wheel, and make a path 3 or more feet long to get up momentum in the proper direction.
  15. Have a family member help you in a empty parking lot (away from light poles or any obstacles) to learn how to drive in slick conditions, when an opportunity arrises, using these guidelines if you feel unsure.
  16. Remember each time entering enter a slick roadway, conditions will be different and can change at any time. There are times roads can become virtually impassable. There have been times vehicles on a flat roadway have slid off to the sides of the roadway while parked on the ice simply because the road has a drainage slope and the ice is to slick to even stand on. Beware of driving in slick conditions unless it is absolutely necessary.

What if the worst happens? Your stranded without help? Don't Panic use your skills.
Skills: Plan B - Stranded In Winter


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