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5 Winter Road Trip Tips You Need to Know Before You Go

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You’ve got the bags packed and the route all planned out. But is your car ready for a winter road trip? Slick roads and limited visibility due to snow or sleet can make winter driving a challenge. Here are five tips from Autotrader to make sure your car is ready for a safe winter journey.

Winter Road Trip Tips

Winter Road Trip Tips (Photo credit:

This story is brought to you in partnership with Autotrader.

1. Pack a winter survival car kit.

In case of emergency, it’s a good idea to store a winter survival kit in your vehicle. Buy a prepackaged emergency kit, or create one of your own. Include a blanket, a first-aid kit, a knife, a flashlight, jumper cables, a snow scraper, and a smart phone charger that charges in your car’s outlet. As an extra precaution, I recommend bringing along a pre-charged mobile device charger. Autotrader also suggests keeping a shovel in your vehicle’s trunk and to keep a de-icer spray handy, so you can easily access the engine or trunk in case they’re frozen shut.

Check tire pressure to help ensure a safe journey on your winter road trip

Check tire pressure to help ensure a safe journey (Photo credit:

2. Check tire pressure.

Before setting out on your winter road trip, be sure to check tire pressure. According to Autotrader, “This is because tire pressure can drop along with the air temperature, losing up to one pound per square inch with every 10-degree drop in air temperature. Driving around with low tire pressure could mean premature tire wear or potential tread separation, which could lead to a major accident. Also, your car handles less predictably with under-inflated tires.” If you find that one or more of your tires is low on air, stop at a gas station to fill them at the air pump.

Be sure to fill up your gas tank before setting off on your winter road trip

Be sure to fill up your gas tank before setting off (Photo credit:

3. Fill ‘er up with gas.

Of course you need gasoline to reach your winter road trip destination, but there are other reasons to keep your gas tank full. “A full tank may prevent accumulated water from freezing inside your fuel pump and can help you stay warm by allowing the engine to stay running in case you get stuck,” says Autotrader. Besides, running out of gas in the chill of winter will do nothing to add cheer to your trek.

Top off washer fluid before your winter road trip

Top off washer fluid before your winter road trip (Photo credit:

4. Top off washer fluid.

Topping off windshield washer fluid may not top your list of things to do before setting off on your winter road trip, but maybe it should. Muddy, salty roads from snow storms can kick up a lot of filth onto your windshield. Then you’ll need to use up a lot of washer fluid so you can find your way to the slopes for skiing or to grandma’s house for the holidays.

It can be more difficult for car batteries to operate during cold winter weather

It can be more difficult for car batteries to operate during cold winter weather (Photo credit:

5. Test your car’s battery before your winter road trip.

Take your car to the dealership or local mechanic for a simple battery volt test to make sure it’s up for the journey. If the battery is weak, replace it right away to avoid being stranded in the cold. Autotrader explains, “It’s often more difficult for a battery to operate in cold weather than it is for a battery to operate in warm weather. As a result, a battery that’s merely weak during the summer could turn into a dead battery during the winter.”

For additional tips on making sure your car is ready for a winter road trip, read these tips from Autotrader. The mission at Autotrader is to be your ultimate online solution for buying and selling new, certified and used cars. Check out their selection of cars now!

Do you have any winter road trip tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: This is a compensated campaign. All opinions are mine, as always. This story includes affiliate links.

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin, MBA, is the founder and editor-in-chief of the popular travel blog, She is an expert in travel with kids and without. As the author of the book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents how to make the most of traveling with babies and children. Colleen loves sharing tips on hotels, cruises, spas, theme parks, and global lifestyle topics. When she is not traveling the world, she lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. Agness of Fit Travelling says

    I am a huge fan of winter road trips and we go very often, Colleen. Thank you for these tips, they have been very helpful for me!

  2. We have a road trip up the mountain and have to pack chains. Hopefully we are required to use them! Be safe.

  3. Thank you so much for these tips! We are taking a winter road trip and we don’t have an emergency kit-but thanks to your post now we will!

  4. Toni | Boulder Locavore says

    These are great tips! It’s always to be ready. Thank you for sharing these!

  5. These are all important tips. I’ll have to make sure we have everything in the car for a winter emergency kit. You never know what can happen.

  6. Cathi Crismon says

    Great practical tips! All so very important. Even in Southern California the weather can change the tire pressure. Who knew!?!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Cathi – So true. I live in Arizona and my tire pressure goes all wonky here when it’s super hot in the summers.

  7. These are great tips and they couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I’m headed out on a winter road trip in the next few days and never even thought to pack a survival car kit. That’s genius!

  8. gingermommyrants says

    It is so important to have a Winter emergency kit in the car. I get the car maintained a bit more in the Winter.

  9. Jocelyn Cañasa Brown says

    These are all really great tips! I definitely need to get winter ready!

  10. Chelley @ A is For Adelaide says

    The survival kit is so important for us! We always keep extra items in the car, regardless of the length of the trip!

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