19 Ways to Prepare for Winter

Tips to ponder before and after relocating, from a couple who've done it.

| January/February 2009

Cold Weather Vehicle Care and Driving Tips
Facts About Cold Weather 

You finally get to follow your dream of living in the country, and with great enthusiasm you move your family and pets a thousand miles north. It’s June and life in the North Country is even better than you imagined. You enjoy a summer of horseback riding, fishing, camping and hiking. As summer comes to an end, a beautiful fall emerges, bringing with it mild temperatures and gorgeous colors. This is the next best thing to heaven.

Then ... winter hits.

Your car won’t start, the water spigot outside sprays water both inside and outside the house (creating a fascinating sculpture in the yard), the air is really cold, and no one mentioned how to un-stick little Johnny’s tongue from the hood of your van. While he’s screaming and you’re panicking, you make a mental note to warn his siblings not to lick the snow off metal surfaces.

If you’re new to snow country, here are some tips to help smooth your adjustment to the winter season.


    Have a mechanic give your vehicles a good going over, and a tune-up if needed. If you don’t know a good shop, it’s easy to figure out – look for the guy with all the vehicles parked out front. If you go in and ask to have a block heater installed (more on that later), and he says it will be two weeks, he is probably the guy you want working on your car.  

    Check your car’s owner’s manual to see what weight of oil you’ll need during winter. The straight 40-weight oil you used in Arizona won’t work in Minnesota. Manual transmissions and differentials may need to have their lubricants replaced also.

    Have a mechanic check the antifreeze concentration in your car’s coolant system. There needs to be more in the system during sub-zero weather.

    If your car battery is more than 5 years old, you might want to think about replacing it before the cold sets in, or ask your mechanic to perform a load test. A low battery can freeze solid – ruining it for good. A fully charged battery will not freeze – unless you live in Siberia.

    No, your neighbor does not have an electric car. The cord sticking out from under the hood of his car is a block or engine heater that can be plugged into a 110-volt outlet overnight and during very cold days. These heat the engine’s coolant, allowing the car to start more easily. You’ll be wise to get one installed. But be sure to unplug it before you back out of the driveway!

    The popular extra-wide, low-profile tires will probably end up putting you in the ditch once the snow and ice start sticking to the road. You may want to invest in a set of studded snow tires. Be sure to get a set of four as even a front-wheel-drive car needs the traction in the rear to control steering and stopping. This is very important. You’re better off without studded tires at all than to put them only on the front of a front-wheel-drive car.

12/9/2013 12:19:38 PM

you also might consider having fresh water supply on hand in case your pipes freeze and at least 6 months of human food on hand

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