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Be Prepared: 10 Car Essentials For Winter [Buying Guide]

Top Car Essentials To Be Ready For Winter Weather

car essentials for winter

No one wants to get stranded in the cold due to a lack of preparation. This is why we’ve gathered a list of the best car essentials for winter so you can be prepared and safe no matter what the winter weather decides to throw at you.

No matter what the season, it’s important to be prepared for any accidents, big or small, on the road. In the winter, there are a lot more factors such as snow, ice, and freezing temperatures that you might have to deal with. Instead of finding yourself in a situation where you wish you had the right gear, be proactive, and get all the essentials ready.

10 Car Essentials For Winter

Below, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 most important items to have for your car to be prepared for the winter months. With these items, you’ll be able to prevent potential accidents and also be prepared if anything does go wrong during your winter excursions. Along with our buying guide, we’ve answered the most frequently asked questions surrounding car essentials for winter and other cold-weather preparation.

1. MATCC Car Snow Brush with Ice Scraper

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This nifty gadget features both a snow brush and an ice-scraper. These are two tools you definitely want in your car at all times during the winter months. With this brush and scraper combo, you can easily clear off any snow or ice-covered windows. Along with that, you can also brush off snow from car door handles if your doors are frozen shut. Be sure to fully clear all the snow off your car before driving.

The handle of this brush and ice scraper extends so you can easily reach every part of your windshield, hood, roof, and trunk. Plus, the brush head pivots 270-degrees for easier snow removal. Because the brush is one foot wide, you can clear a lot of snow at once. This MATCC snow remover comes with a one-year warranty.

To read more about the best ice scrapers on the market today, check out our comprehensive buying guide showcasing the ten best ice scrapers.



2. Zerex G05 Antifreeze/Coolant

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Antifreeze keeps the water in your radiator and engine from freezing in cold temperatures. And you don’t need to live in the Arctic for this to be helpful. In the colder months, your radiator and engine may be more prone to issues. Using antifreeze will help prevent some of those issues. We recommend adding the antifreeze coolant to your coolant reservoir tank just before temperatures begin to drop.

This Zerex G05 antifreeze/coolant works on both diesel and gasoline engines. Whether you need it for your car, truck, or larger vehicle, this is a great option. Along with preventing the fluids in your radiator and engine from freezing, this mixture also has anti-corrosion properties and helps protect against hard water deposits and scale. In addition to keeping your fluids from freezing in the winter, this product also keeps them from boiling in the summer.

It is a concentrate, and at a 50/50 ratio of coolant to water, it is rated to temperatures ranging from -34 to 265 degrees Fahrenheit. In a 70/30 Zerex to water ratio, the temperature range increases to -84 to 276 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. AAA Road-Trip First Aid Kit

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While our hope is that you never need to use this first aid kit, keeping a first aid kit in your car year-round is crucial. It is especially important in the winter months, as in the event of an accident, it may take emergency vehicles longer to reach you due to weather and road conditions. With this first aid kit, you can treat injuries until paramedics arrive.

This AAA first aid kit has 121 items ranging from sterile pads, sting relief, a cold pack, pliers, bandages, and an emergency whistle. It has a secure, hard shell carrying case making it easy to transport and store. It should easily fit in your car’s glove box or trunk. Keeping this first aid kit in your car will give you added peace of mind driving in winter conditions.

4. SubZero Auto Emergency Snow Shovel

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Having a collapsible snow shovel in your trunk is a must-have item on your list of car essentials for winter. In deep snow, a shovel will be invaluable if you need to clear a path for driving or shovel snow out from around your wheels if you get stuck.

This Subzero shovel is wide and sturdy, allowing you to scoop a large amount of snow. The handle extends up to 37 inches and is ergonomically designed to give you a good grip when shoveling snow.

Reviewers have noted that this shovel is able to handle even the most stubborn snow. Thanks to its compact design, it will fit in your trunk without taking up a lot of space. With that being said, there is no reason to not have this shovel in your car during the winter.

5. NOCO Boost HD 12-Volt Car Battery Jump Starter

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Cold weather can be tough on car batteries, and there’s not much worse than walking out to your car on a frigid morning and finding you have a dead battery. With that, one of the best investments in terms of car essentials for winter is a reliable car battery jump starter.

With the NOCO Boost HD, you don’t need to worry about hooking jumper cables up to another car. Simply hook up the device and start your car using the jump starter. The NOCO Boost HD also has a 12v portable power charger that can be used to charge smartphones, tablets, or other USB devices and an LED light for ease of use even in the dark. The light also includes an emergency strobe mode if you lack visibility and urgently need help.

Along with your purchase of this portable lithium car battery jump starter, you also get needle-nose battery clamps, XGC male and female connectors, XGC cable, micro-USB charging cable, storage bag, user-guide, and a one-year warranty.

6. Prestone Windshield Washer Fluid With De-Icer

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Having windshield washer fluid with de-icer is one of the often overlooked car essentials for winter. You probably know that keeping your windshield washer fluid reservoir filled is the best way to ensure good visibility when driving. But in the winter this becomes even more important as snow and ice can accumulate on your windshield and your windshield wipers, causing poor visibility when you need it most.

You can purchase this Prestone All-Season 3-in-1 windshield washer fluid as a single gallon, two-pack, or six-pack. Whether you’re dealing with summer bugs, intense snow, or spring showers, this washer fluid will give you the best visibility through it all. This washer fluid is capable of melting snow before it freezes on your windshield in temperatures as low as -27 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s not a bad idea to keep an extra stash in your trunk for the winter months, just to be safe.

7. Nokian Hakkapeliitta Studded Winter Tire

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Though it is undoubtedly an investment to switch to snow tires during the winter months, in terms of added safety and winter driving performance, it is money well spent. Especially if you drive often in extremely snowy or icy conditions, snow tires will help tremendously with traction.

The Nokian Hakkapeliitta has a balanced grip, making it stable and durable for all winter conditions. It is studded and has different stud types across the tread designed to optimize grip and traction for added performance even in the most extreme inclement weather. Along with that, the strong sidewalls and aggressive tread will give you peace of mind when navigating difficult winter roads. Before purchasing, make sure that the tire is compatible with your rims and vehicle.

For more options and information on the best snow tires on the market, be sure to check out our comprehensive buying guide.


8. Optima RedTop Car Battery

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The Optima RedTop Car Battery is perhaps best equipped for sub-freezing temperatures out of all the best car batteries. This 12-volt, lead-acid car battery has a strong starting burst with 800 cold-cranking amps (CCA) and a 200 amp-load. The higher the cold-cranking amps, the better the battery will perform in the cold. If you currently have a battery with very low CCA, replacing your battery for the winter is a very good idea.

The battery is reliable and durable, with RedTop claiming it is fifteen times more vibration-resistant than the average car battery. It is designed to handle the elements, so if you frequently experience subzero temperatures, this battery should take you where you need to go.

This RedTop battery is compact, weighing just under forty pounds with a flexible mounting design that allows it to fit numerous cars. Be certain to check the specifications for your vehicle prior to purchasing this battery. For all that you need to know about the performance of the Optima RedTop, read our review when we tested this battery for 5,000 miles in subzero temperatures.

9. Security Chain Company SZ127 Super Z6 Tire Cables

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Whether you live in a place where heavy snowfall leads to treacherous road conditions or you are just visiting a wintery location, investing in a set of tire chains for safer driving on snowy and icy roads is a must. Before purchasing a set of tire chains, be sure to check if your particular state has any restrictions or laws for tire chain use. To find the best tire chains for your particular car and use case, check out our comprehensive buying guide for more options.

These Super Z6 Z-pattern cable snow chains from Security Chain are some of the most versatile out there. If your vehicle — car, SUV, or truck — has very limited operating clearance and exceeds the Class “S” clearance requirements, these chains will still fit on your tires. They also come equipped with a built-in rubber tightened so you won’t need to constantly readjust the chains after the initial installation.

When engineering these cable chains, Security Chain had modern vehicles in mind. These chains are compatible with all-wheel drive, electronically monitored control systems, traction control, and anti-lock brakes. The chains come in a handy carrying case, so you can easily store them in your garage or vehicle.

10. Natural Rapport Pet-Friendly Ice Melt

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While rumor has it that cat litter works the same as ice melt, we’ll go ahead and say it may be a little more glamorous to keep this ice melt from Natural Rapport in your trunk. We know how important it is to use products that are safe for your family and four-legged friends. And this formula is both eco-friendly and pet safe. Along with that, it is safe to use on vehicles, concrete, carpet, and vegetation.

If your car ever gets stuck in the snow, pouring this ice melt around the tires should help give your tires some traction and get you moving again. When you find yourself in a slippery situation, now you have an easy way to get out of it. The small, durable container makes it easy to store this ice melt in your car.

Drive Safe With the Best Car Essentials For Winter

In addition to these 10 top car essentials for winter, you should also keep water, non-perishable snacks, blankets, gloves, a flashlight, and a portable phone charger in your car. Along with that, having road flares and a basic tool kit on hand is a good idea if you experience a break down on the side of the road during inclement weather. And always keep your gas tank at least half full throughout the winter.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should you do to your car before winter?

To prepare for the winter, there are a few things you can do in addition to stocking up on winter car essentials. If your car is due for maintenance, take it in before winter arrives. This will give you the assurance that your engine, brakes, and other systems are working smoothly.

Consider switching to winter tires. Once they’re installed, use a tire pressure gauge and air compressor to set and maintain the correct PSI. Winter temperatures can cause tire pressure to fluctuate more than in the warmer months. Along with that, make sure you have a good spare tire with all the correct parts.

You should also fill your windshield washer fluid reservoir with fluid that contains anti-freeze or de-icer. You can even purchase windshield wipers specifically meant for the winter.

Especially if you’re going to be dealing with subzero temperatures, it is important to get a car battery with high CCA (cold-cranking amps) to ensure your car will start in the cold.

Why do I need to keep my gas tank at least half-full during winter?

If your gas tank falls below half a tank during the winter, you run the risk of your gas line freezing up. A full tank reduces condensation and thus reduces the risk of your gas line freezing. Along with that, if you were to ever get stuck in the snow, you will want plenty of gas so you can keep your car on with the heat running.

How do I drive safely in the snow and ice?

To drive safely in the snow, it is important to know exactly how to remain safe in all snowy and icy conditions.

The main tips for driving safely in the snow include:

  • Drive slowly to keep traction throughout the drive.
  • Don’t stop midway when driving up a hill. Continue to drive slowly at a consistent speed.
  • Familiarize yourself with your brakes.
  • Take turns slowly and attentively.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly.
  • Leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you.

How do I open a frozen car door?

There are numerous approaches to opening a frozen car door. In our how-to guide, we outlined the three most popular and user-friendly methods.

In short, the three methods are:

  • Method 1: Use warm water (NOT hot water) in a pitcher and then wipe the handle off with a towel.
  • Method 2: Use an ice scraper 
  • Method 3: Use a de-icing spray or another lubricant

Are tire chains a better option than snow tires?

Tire chains are effective for snowy and icy conditions, but they are best for mountain driving at speeds no faster than 30 mph. If you are planning to drive on the highway in snowy conditions, chains are probably not the way to go because they can lead to damage on both the road and your tires if you exceed 30 mph. Tire chains need to be installed and removed as road conditions change.

Snow tires are specifically designed to not only drive in snow and ice but also to perform effectively at high-speeds. Snow tires can be installed at the beginning of winter and left on all season.

Chains should not be looked at as a substitute for snow tires, but they can be a good option to have on hand for intense weather conditions. Chains can also be used alongside snow tires in extreme conditions.

What are the benefits of letting my car warm up before driving it in the winter?

Turning your car on and letting it idle and warm up before you drive has numerous benefits. The main benefit is that this allows your engine oil to heat up and thus flow more smoothly when you actually begin to drive. Especially in the winter, your engine or car battery is more prone to damage in the cold. We recommend turning your car on before you scrape the snow or ice off of the car with an ice-scraper. This way, once you are done de-icing your exterior, your car should be ready to drive.

Joybeth Sullivan
About Joybeth Sullivan

Joybeth Sullivan is an accomplished content creator. She does it all as a writer, photographer, and videographer. Her work has been published in local and international outlets. She graduated from the University of Georgia in May of 2020 with a dual-degree in English & Film. Today, she is based out of Denver, CO. When she isn't writing, you can find her on long drives in the mountains with her husky, Newman, riding shotgun.