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Winter Driving Checklist

For a safe and comfortable daily driving experience in the winter months, we recommend having these items in your vehicle. Some of it, you’ll only have to purchase once. All of it, you’ll be glad you have.


Every item on the list is available at your local auto parts store or a store like Walmart.


Choose high performance windshield wipers.


We know the winter months in the Greater Seattle are fraught with rain, water, moisture, mist, drizzle and precipitation. What you might not know is how much you’ll appreciate having high performance windshield wipers, known as beam style wipers. They make for a better and safer experience while driving in rain, because they’re designed to contour more tightly to your windshield, thoroughly squeaking away any water. Save money, too: they perform better, and for significantly longer. The overhead pays for itself.


Cost: ~13-30 dollars per wiper, depending on length and quality


Get a window scraper.


The least favorite card in your wallet works fine, but only while you’re thinking about it from the comfort of a heated environment. You’re going to actually scrape the whole window if you have a real scraper. Compared to using a card, its even going to be fun.


Cost: 5-15 dollars.


Tip: Get one with a nice brush on it for sweeping the snow cover off your windshield, hood and headlight.


Clean and restore your headlights.


When your headlights seem dimmer than before, scuffing and discoloration is probably the cause. You’ll know if your headlight lenses are in good condition if they’re crystal clear after you wipe/scrub them. If not, you can quite easily restore them to crystal clarity with a satisfying buffing process that only takes a few minutes. All parts needed are included. The kits are usually good for multiple restorations.


Cost: $16-25 for a kit that has enough for multiple uses.


Get tire chains.


If your vehicle is 2wd, now is always the best time to put chains in your trunk. If the snow/ice hits hard and suddenly, you won’t have time to go buy them. You’ll be stuck. And even though nobody in Western Washington goes to work if flurries fly, you’ll still need tire chains so you can take your kids sledding. Tire chains are a one time purchase that lasts the life of your car, and you’ll probably use next winter, if not this one.


Cost: $100-$150


Have an emergency kit.


A breakdown in the winter cold can be dangerous. You’re more likely to end up on the shoulder or in the ditch when there’s ice on the roads, and more likely to be stuck for a while. If a big snowstorm locks up freeway traffic, you might find yourself sleeping on the side of the road. If you have kids, you’ll need to be extra prepared. Here are a few suggestions for what you might keep in your car:


  • Blankets

  • Coats

  • Flashlights w/ extra batteries

  • A shovel to get yourself out of a snowdrift

  • Gloves


Ask yourself if there’s any other needs you might have if you were to find yourself stuck out in the cold.


A few other things you might like to have on hand at home:


  • A snow shovel for the driveway.

  • Rock salt for ice.


Short version of the list, for your shopping convenience:


  • Have an emergency kit.

  • Get tire chains.

  • Clean and restore your headlights.

  • Get a window scraper.

  • Choose high performance windshield wipers.


Stay safe out there.

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