Main Content

Car Preparedness Critical During Winter Months

Release date: 
February 12, 2014
Release Number: 

LINCROFT, N.J. – The recent winter storm in Atlanta wreaked havoc on traffic and left motorists and vehicles stranded on the city’s highways for days. Many people were forced to stay in their cars overnight, while others abandoned their vehicles to escape the gridlock.

The harshness of the winter the country is experiencing emphasizes the importance of making sure that your vehicle is prepared for cold and inclement weather. There are two aspects of vehicle preparedness during the winter months: Maintaining your vehicle to reduce the risk of an accident, breakdown, or other problems; and having the right equipment on hand to solve problems that do arise.

Here are some important things you should check when winterizing your vehicle. Most of these steps can be handled without assistance from a mechanic:

  • Antifreeze levels
  • Batteries (terminals should be clean)
  • Brakes (check for wear and brake fluid)
  • Exhaust system, for leaks, clogs and crimped/otherwise damaged pipes
  • Heater and defroster
  • Head and tail lights, turn signals and hazard lights. Make sure they’re working and are visible
  • Engine oil levels. If the oil needs to be changed, recommends using a lighter oil, which lubricates better at lower temperatures and doesn’t congeal like heavy oils
  • Thermostat
  • Wear and condition of windshield wipers, as well as levels of windshield washer fluid. Use a winter formula of windshield washer fluid
  • Tires. Make sure the tread is adequate and that you have snow tires or chains if required. Also make sure you have adequate tire pressure, including the spare
  • Keep your gas tank as full as possible to prevent the fuel line from freezing

There is more to vehicle preparedness than keeping your car properly maintained. If you’re on the road and disaster strikes, having the right equipment and materials in your car can help you rescue yourself and others, help other rescue you, or allow you to safely remain in place if help cannot arrive immediately.

  • First-aid kit with up-to-date medications
  • A shovel
  • An ice scraper/small broom
  • Cat litter or sand for better traction
  • Jumper cables
  • An AM/FM radio (battery or crank-operated)
  • Emergency flares and/or reflective triangles
  • Blankets and/or a sleeping bag
  • Rope/tow chain
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Snack foods and water
  • Matches

Keeping your car properly equipped and in top condition will reduce the risk of a serious winter weather-related incident on the road, as well as leave you better prepared to handle any emergencies that arise.



FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Follow FEMA online at,,, and Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at

The social media links provided are for reference only

Last Updated: 
January 3, 2018 - 12:07