10 Things You Should Have In Your Car

Last Updated: September 11, 2022

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on building a Car Survival Kit

It’s one thing to be caught in a blizzard…

Sometimes you might not be able to do anything about.

But it’s another thing to be caught in a broken-down car, in the middle of winter.

On top of dealing with being broken down, you’ll end up having to listen to yourself tell yourself that it’s all your fault; and you’ll probably say that over and over again. Justly so.

The reality is that your car is much more likely to break down in winter weather, than it is in summer weather, just like it is more likely to slide off the road, hitting a patch of ice.

Related Article: Top 50 Bug-Out Bag List Essentials

With that in mind, it only makes sense to ensure that we’ve done everything we can to ensure that our cars are ready for winter and aren’t going to have problems.

This means ensuring that our cars are in tip-top mechanical shape.

Often, it’s the little things, not the big ones, which cause us problems in the winter.

Things like a hose popping or a battery dying.

Most of these items are actually considered to be regular maintenance items, which means that checking them should be a regular part of our vehicle maintenance.

Yet few people today actually bother with vehicle maintenance.

Vehicle Maintenance Must Haves

1. Tires

Good tires are an important part of maintaining control of your vehicle on slippery roads.

Few people bother anymore with buying winter snow tires, unless it’s the big knobby ones on a 4×4 vehicle. Instead they opt for all-season tires and leave them on their cars. But these are only good if they have plenty of tread on them.

If they’re getting close to the wear mark, it’s a good idea to replace them before the first snow falls.

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2. Hoses

Car cooling systems have a hard time dealing with cold weather, especially in the far north, where it’s a challenge to keep engines from freezing.

Hoses which are nearing the end of their life will often soften near the ends, forming somewhat of a bubble. If this is the case, better to change it while the weather is still nice.

3. Engine Heater

Speaking of freezing engines, if you live far enough north where that is an issue, then check your engine heater before the really cold weather hits.

Just because it worked in the spring, doesn’t mean it works now.

4. Belts

Rubber belts, like hoses are affected by engine chemicals and changes in weather. If your belts are already starting to show signs of cracking, the cracks will get bigger during cold freezes.

Worse than that, cold weather can affect the bearing lubricants in the idler and tensioner pulleys. If they show any slop at all, best to replace them.

5. Anti-Freeze

Check your anti-freeze to ensure that you have a 50/50 mix, especially if you had to add any water during the year.

Add 100% anti-freeze to bring the coolant to the right level of protection or refill the entire system with a 50/50 mix.

6. Windshield Wipers

Your windshield wipers will get a workout, cleaning snow and ice off your windshield. If there are any cracks in the rubber at all, they won’t survive.

Replacing them before winter hits should be on everyone’s maintenance list.

7. Windshield Washer Fluid

While you’re checking your windshield wipers, check the washer fluid and the function of the pump as well. You’ll use more washer fluid on those slushy days than any other time of the year.

8. Battery

One of the most common maintenance problems in cold weather is batteries dying. Your car’s battery should have the date of purchase marked on it.

If it is nearing the end of its guaranteed life, you may as well replace it, as it won’t make it through the winter.

9. Alternator

While checking your battery, take a look at your alternator as well. This is what charges the battery, and is therefore essential. If yours is old, there’s a chance that it will fail during the winter.

10. Battery Cables

The battery cables are unlikely to go bad, but you want to make sure that the connection between them and the battery is cleaned and protected from corrosion.

Starting an engine in cold weather requires more current than in warm weather, so you might have trouble starting your engine if your cable connections are dirty.

As you can see, none of these are big items, but they’re all important for your car to be ready for winter.

But that’s not all; you need an emergency kit in your car, to take care of any problems that your car may have.

You’ve got to be ready not only to deal with mechanical problems with your car, but with problems the weather may cause for your car.

Read the next post: Car Emergency Kit

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