Winter Survival Tips

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With the winter driving season now here, AAA Colorado recommends having a winter driving kit in your vehicle. The following items are "must haves" to carry in your car during the winter driving season:

  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Flares or reflective triangles
  • Jumper cables
  • Cell phone with extra batteries
  • First Aid kit
  • Rags or paper towels
  • Rolls of quarters, dimes and nickels
  • Gallon jug of water
  • Non-perishable food items
  • Blanket and extra set of clothes
  • Window washer solvent
  • Non-clumping kitty litter
  • Ice-scraper, snow brush and snow shovel
  • Tire Chains

Winter driving is tough on motorists and vehicles. To help drivers make it through harsh winter conditions, AAA Colorado offers the following car care tips:

Cold weather is hard on batteries. At zero degrees, a car's battery loses about 60 percent of its strength. At a comparatively mild 32 degrees, a battery is 35 percent weaker. A load test performed by a
qualified technician will help determine whether a car's battery is strong
enough for winter starts.

Get a Grip
Make sure your car is equipped with tires that are properly inflated and have enough tread to be able to handle your region's winter weather. For most motorists, all-season tires are adequate. In more northern or mountainous regions, switching to snow tires may be necessary.

See and Be Seen
Driving with a snow-covered windshield, windows, side-view mirrors or lights invites a crash. Clear windows, mirrors and lights with an ice scrapper, brush or spray de-icer. Make certain windshield wipers and defrosters are in good working order and that washer reservoirs are filled with no-freeze windshield washer fluid.

Slippery When Wet
At or just about 32 degrees, a thin layer of water can cover the ice, causing extremely slippery conditions. The distance needed to stop on ice at 32 degrees is twice as long as at zero degrees.

Keep Your Engine Cool
Mix cooling system antifreeze with an equal portion of water for maximum protection.

Key Solution
Frozen door locks can be overcome by carefully heating the end of a key with a match or lighter. A squirt of de-icer spray is another quick method.

Air It Out
Don't start your car in a closed garage or idle your engine for long periods with the windows closed. Carbon monoxide, present in exhaust fumes, is almost impossible to detect and can be fatal when
breathed in a confined area.

Finish Up
Road salt, slush and grime are especially hard on a car's finish. To help prevent rust and paint damage, keep cars washed and waxed. A full- or self-service car wash makes the job easier when temperatures are low.


Here are a few safe winter driving tips for light trucks:

  • Know whether your vehicle is equipped with ABS brakes, and learn how to use your brakes properly, especially in slippery driving conditions.

  • Practice driving in an empty parking lot or other open space to get
    used to the brakes, steering and overall handling.

  • Review your owner's manual regarding handling characteristics and
    four-wheel drive operation and performance.

  • Check the tire tread and make sure air pressure meets recommended

  • Remove snow and ice off your vehicle, particularly your windows and front and back lights, before driving.

  • Drive slower during winter storms when visibility is reduced.

  • Guard against all-wheel-drive overconfidence.