Make Sure Your Car is Buttoned Up for Bad Roads

So, how do you get your car organized, prepared and safe for any trip this winter? Keep your eyes on the road and we’ll tell you how.

Sarah on “Get a Tune-up”:

You may be thinking, “Well, it’s already January; it’s too late to get a winter checkup.” But with at least two more months of bad weather ahead, it’s certainly not too late. Make an appointment this week with your local garage to ensure your car is winter-ready. Have them change the oil and check the tire pressure, fluids, anti-freeze, heater and tire alignment. If you need new tires, consider replacing your current ones with the all-weather variety, which can handle snow and ice better. You’ll feel better just knowing your car has been put through its winter paces by the experts.

Alicia on “Drive Intelligently”:

Unfortunately, many people keep driving in winter as though the road conditions have not changed much. They don’t pay attention when signs say “Bridge May Be Icy” or “Maximum Speed 25.” Especially in the winter, with black ice and snow, extra caution is always necessary. And remember: Unless there’s some bona fide emergency, you never have to drive. If news reports tell you to stay off the roads, well, take that to heart. The warnings are issued for your protection.

Here are some additional ideas for getting your car squared away for the rest of winter.

#1. Ensure Your Car Has a Proper Kit

Every car, regardless of the climate, should be stocked with a basic emergency kit. Your glove compartment should hold a pair of sunglasses, the trunk should have extra water and a blanket, and you should have a first-aid kit under the passenger seat. In case of an accident, a helpful tool is something called Collision.kit by Buttoned Up, which includes information cards and a camera to ensure you have everything you need to record the details of the incident (Available at and Target stores; $15).

#2. Keep a Universal Charger
If you’re going to take a substantial trip, take a cue from truck drivers, and be sure your car is equipped with a universal charger. A universal charger plugs into a cigarette-lighter plug — and which any normal, two-pronged plug (like the wall chargers for your phone, camera or iPod) can plug into. They’re also lifesavers if you’re on a longer family trip and need a way to recharge batteries.

#3. Keep ‘Em Entertained
Now for the hard part: the back seat. Don’t worry, though, since a little preparedness will go a long way in keeping kids (and adults) not just occupied but genuinely entertained. Always bring plenty of snacks, plus trash bags and wipes for the resulting mess. As far as keeping kids entertained, DVD players are becoming ubiquitous. But try some of the classic games, such as keeping tabs of the states listed on the various license plates of cars on the road. Not only are these more interactive, but they tend to be the ones your kids will remember when they grow up and go on their own road trips.