By on December 9, 2019

Subaru Ascent

We don’t know about the rest of you lot, but the vast majority of us who toil at this august publication reside well within the snow belt. Starting around this time of year, shovelling, bundling up, and generally cursing at cold weather is a daily occurrence for most of the masthead.

Modern cars are virtually maintenance-free these days — save for vital fluids, of course — especially compared to the Bad Old Days when one had to gap plugs and set points in order to get to church on time. Despite this, are there any particular ways in which you prepare your car for winter?

Winter tires (four of them, please) are a must around these parts. They aren’t legally required like they are in La Belle Province, but to do without rubber bearing that three-peak mountain snowflake is only inviting disaster when the mercury falls. (Your author had a falling Mercury one time, but that was thanks to sagging springs on a Grand Marquis.)

Underneath the back seat of a 2018 GMC Sierra, for which I dole a monthly stipend to GM Financial, resides all manner of winter-ready gear from jumper cables to a blanket to energy bars. Seriously. As we knock on the door of 2020, I am 99-and-a-bunch-more-nines-percent positive I will never need any of that, but their presence stems from a childhood filled with tall snowdrifts and stalled cars and maternal warnings ringing in my ears about perishing on a Newfoundland roadside while a vicious winter storm covers my car. These days, the chance of that is minuscule; yet, I still cart around all that crap.

What do you pile on or aboard your rig — necessary or not — once the snow starts to fly?

[Image: © 2018 Matthew Guy/TTAC]

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19 Comments on “QOTD: Hello, Winter...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    There is a blanket in the trunk year-round. For winter, I throw the snow brush onto the back floor.

    I run all-season tires in the Pittsburgh area, and have never had AWD. There are about 3 days a year I could use it. On two cars in the past, I swapped winter tires annually, but I got sick of storing them for 9 months.

    Being able to work from home if I must helps somewhat. Also, roads are cleaner now than ever; salt is overused, as is the 2-hour delay for the schools.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Window scraper… and that’s it. Only a three mile drive to work, 90% suburban. If I get offroad or stuck, help is only a few minutes away. And if the weather is bad, I won’t be traveling any distance. Luckily my aged parents moved nearby so I don’t need to carry the trench shovel, cat litter, and blanket like I did when they lived on the shore of Lake Michigan. That was a rural area that was uh – interesting – in a Marquis or a RWD BMW.

    I do use winter tires – Mustang! – and also have the ability to work from home.

  • avatar
    PhilMills

    Stuffed in with the spare tire on both cars (a minivan and an Outback) are
    * foldable shovel
    * jumper cables
    * tow strap
    * blanket
    …and an ice scraper is just a given. I’ve added one of those USB-charged jumper packs to the van (and have had to use it twice; thanks a lot kids who push reading light butons when I don’t notice) and will probably pick up one for the Subaru as well.

    I see most preparation like this as preventative – if I’ve planned for it, it’s almost certain not to happen.

    I’ve used the tow straps multiple times, all of them to get somebody /else/ moved and mostly just to re-locate cars that have stalled out or run out of gas in very bad spots.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    Other than winter tires and a window brush/scraper, I like a couple of fresh coats of RainX on the windows. I also find a good cleaning of the inside of the glass is critical in the winter to help minimize fogging. I do usually time my oil changes to coincide with the oncoming cold weather… it may just be psychological, but I figure running my car in the cold of winter on fresh oil couldn’t hurt.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Where I live snow isn’t an issue, but I checked the pressure in my compact spare this morning. It had half the recommended pressure about two years after last time I checked it. If you have a spare tire, I suggest pulling it out and checking the pressure while you’re doing your winter prep.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    There’s no snow here (and on the very few occasions when there is, I’m not driving anywhere), so I don’ t pack anything except the blanket and triangle I pack all year.

    Todd is right about compact spares. I checked the one on my Highlander when I bought it. After 3 1/2 years on the road it was at 45 psi from the specified 60. I bought the car six months ago so it’s about time to check it again, although doing so is a bit painful because of underbody mounting with the valve stem cap on the top side.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I’ve only lived in the Sierra foothills for a few years and I’m retired. I have an icy road down 2000′ to get to town, but I don’t go when it’s storming, and I spend at least a day shoveling my drive and by then the roads are plowed and I can make it down. I still run my All season FWD I just slow down. I’m not a complete idiot, and carry chains, blanket, food and water. But, so far my survival technique is to stay home, sleep in, and have a hot breakfast before I do anything. The simple joy of retirement.

  • avatar
    gtem

    I’d typically do this whole big thing with putting my 4Runner up on jackstands in the driveway, take the summer all terrains off, spray the underside down with Fluid Film, then bolt my winter wheel on. This year? 4Runner is staying in the garage untouched.

    Our new Town&Country was treated to a set of Falken HS449 Eurowinter tires on junkyard Pacifica steelies and a fresh oil change about a month ago. I debated about investing in snow tires, we generally can get by fine on good all seasons in Indy. But it’s my wife’s main commuter now and we have a baby so I erred on the side of safety. That V6 overwhelms the front wheels all too easily as it is.

    Camry just got its 90k mile maintenance which included an impromptu wheel stud replacement after I somehow managed to overtorque one by hand. So fresh oil and filters, tire rotation. It’ll be my main commuter, we’ve always just run all seasons in the winter on it, General Altimax RT43 that do very well (for all seasons), but this set has 40k+ miles on it now…

    Topped up washer fluid, RainXed windows, put a scraper in both cars, added a few pounds of air to compensate for the coming cold.

  • avatar
    roloboto

    I ve a lot in B.C mountain passes so things can get pretty gnarly, pretty wuick. I have….

    First aid kit, roadside kit with flares, flashlight, glowsticks, rope, smallshovel, a knife. Also have, blanket, food and water, snowscraper, BCAA memebrship, extra washer fluid, and a backpack with scarves amd long underwear.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Put the brush and scraper in all the cars. Put winter tires on the truck. Make sure the booster is fully charged. We live in SW WI and none of our vehicles are 4WD or AWD. The only time I couldn’t get home with the transmission driving all the axles on any normal vehicle would not have helped. A ‘mog may have gotten through the drifts. Maybe. I parked in the parking lot up the road and walked the half mile home.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Brushes, scrapers and extra washer fluid

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I closed my kitchen window because it was getting too cold inside after mid night….

    I hate the snow, rain and cold so much I moved as far West as one can to get away from it .

    You alls have my deepest sympathy .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I went south instead of west, but Amen, Brother!

      There is nothing better than getting off an airplane after a long work week to my Fiata waiting to put the top down for the drive home. Instead of scraping ice off the windshield and freezing waiting for the butt heaters to warm up. The fact that I save about $10K in taxes a year is a big fat cherry on top.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Yabutt ;

        I’m in L.A. more or less and it’s getting *very* crowded here ~ like the bus I used to ride in Guatemala City except the whole damn place…..

        My son is bailing out to HOT-A-zona, the tags on his truck dropped from $500 + to $87 / year ….

        -Nate

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    For the three cars that live where winter means cold and snow, I put them in the garage, plug in the battery maintainers, and take off the liability and collision insurance. Then I get my butt on an airplane south – October 10th this year, I was late leaving. Where winter prep means driving the GTI with the windows open and the Fiata with the top down. 82F and not a cloud in the sky on the Gulf coast of Florida today. :-)

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Since I live in San Diego, I wax the car, clean the inside of the windows to prevent fogging, and replace the wipers. When I lived in the snow belt, that all I did there too. Que sera’ sera’.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Oh, yeah ~ yesterday I bought two pairs of BOSCH ‘icon’ wiper blades, damn things are $26 apiece ! .

    They’re Winter blades although I hope to never drive in the snow again, they’ve lasted in the L.A. smog for up to four years so worth the price I think .

    I finally tossed out my old long wooden handled ice scraper along with my snow shoes, never used them so why keep them ? .

    -Nate

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