If you’re wondering how to prepare your car for winter, you’ve come to the right place. Cold is right around the corner, and you may not realize that when it comes to prepping your car, you need to start early. Almost six million vehicle crashes occur every year, and over a fifth of them are weather-related. You can easily prevent a crash by weather-proofing your vehicle. Navigating ice and snow may never be a joy, but you can at least reduce the stress of driving in the cold by following these tips as you winterize your car.


Have a winter supply box

As you may have noticed, winter weather is unpredictable. That’s why you need to be sure you have a box of emergency supplies in your vehicle.

During this time of year, you’re definitely going to need:

  • An ice scraper and snow brush—Ideally, you’ll want to park your car in a garage or under a cover. If you can’t, use a quality scraper and brush to clear off snow and ice.
  • A bag of salt or sand—This is an essential if your vehicle has rear-wheel drive. A heavy bag of sand or salt provides you with more traction!
  • A blanket—If your car breaks down, you’ll be able to bundle up while you wait for help.
  • Hand warmers and gloves—When you first climb into your car on a crisp winter morning, your steering wheel will be cold to the touch. Keep a spare pair of gloves in your glove compartment!
  • Jumper cables—You never know when your battery (or someone else’s) will power down. Keep these in your car at all times, not just during the winter months.
  • Shovel—It may sound silly to keep a shovel in your car, but you’ll be glad you have it if you get caught in a blizzard. A shovel makes it easy to dig yourself out of heavy, unplowed snow.

For additional information, take a look at our post about some of the best items you should keep in an emergency kit in your car.


Check your car’s battery, antifreeze levels, brakes, and four-wheel drive


Car batteries only last for about three to five years, and they drain more quickly when temperatures drop. If you know your battery is old, take a look at it before winter starts. Check to see if it has corroded, and, if needed, replace it. You should also make sure your battery’s cables are secure. You’ll thank yourself later!

Antifreeze Levels

Checking your car’s antifreeze levels is a quick way to make sure your car won’t shut down during the cooler seasons. Always be sure you have enough antifreeze. If your vehicle needs an antifreeze flush, be sure to get this done, too.


Winter brake failure is disastrous.  Check your brakes and replace them if necessary to ensure safety on snowy and icy roads.

Four-wheel drive

In severe winter weather, you’ll need four-wheel drive (if your car includes it) to ensure that your vehicle doesn’t skid or spin out.

When you’re checking to see if your four-wheel drive system works:

  • Make sure your vehicle’s RPMs rise quickly.
  • Determine if there are any unusual sounds.
  • Figure out if your front tires are gaining traction.


Change wiper blades

When you drive in inclement weather, keeping your windshield as clear as possible is essential. Snow showers make maintaining a clear view more difficult, but new winter windshield wipers can provide the solution.

If it’s difficult to see the road, even if it’s not raining or snowing, you should change your wiper blades. Winter blades have a protective layer that deflect wet snow and ice.

You can easily change your wipers before the weather shifts, or you can have a trusted dealership change them for you. Be sure to use washer fluid formulated for cold weather, too!


Switching tires

Tire pressure drops with the falling temperatures, so replacing your tires is one of the important things you can do to winterize your car. Winter tires allow you to get the best traction, while all-season tires get stiff when the temperature drops. All-season tires can work for you, but it truly depends on their tread depth. Winter tires, meanwhile, are designed specifically for cold temperatures and unplowed snow and ice.

When switching out your tires, you should replace all four tires. Don’t settle for tires that cause you to slip and slide. It’s worth the extra money, and failing to use a full set can still cause slipping or turning issues.

You should replace your tires much sooner than you think; we recommend doing so before the first snowfall. Also, make sure you fit your new tires onto new rims.

Once you’ve changed your tires, regularly check your tire pressure. Winter can have a serious impact on tire inflation, causing uneven pressure and putting your safety at risk.


Preparing the interior and exterior

When readying your vehicle for winter, don’t forget about these small but important details.


  • Clean the inside of each window. Car owners often overlook this step, but it can make a huge difference in visibility.
  • Tracking slush into your car is never a good idea; mud and moisture wreak havoc on your vehicle’s carpet. All-weather floor mats keep your carpet clean and damage-free.
  • Seat conditioners will save your leather seats from salt and snow. Apply the conditioner before it gets cooler outside.


  • Wash your car. That’s right, you’ll still have to wash your car during the winter months. This is to ensure that you remove any salt from your vehicle’s body.
  • Thoroughly wax your car. By doing so, you’ll keep it protected from the elements all winter long.

Other tips

  • Keep your gas tank at least half full throughout the winter season. Doing so prevents your vehicle’s fuel lines from freezing.
  • Check your headlights and taillights. Dirty, dim headlights will make it more difficult for you to see the roads at night or during a snowstorm.
  • Make sure your heater and defroster are working before the cold weather hits.


You can’t know what the winter roads have in store for you this year, but reading over our checklist can help you prepare. If you think you need a second opinion, seeing your trusted local mechanic never hurts. A maintenance check-up can help you determine how to prepare your car for winter. The cold weather only amplifies existing problems with your vehicle, so if something’s been sounding or looking a little funny, now’s a good time to get it checked out.

ScratchWizard is your go-to source for automotive winter preparation. From wax to interior cleaners and more, we carry the products you need to winterize your car. Shop our selection now, or, if you have any questions, call us at (877) 629-0612.