For most of us--except for you lucky folks in the Deep South, the desert Southwest, parts of Southern California, and Hawaii--the cold weather is starting to settle in. The house thermostat has been changed from “cool” to “heat” and all of our summer clothes have been moved out of our everyday closets and into the spare closet. (We all have one, right?) Swimsuits are traded in for gloves and boots replace flip-flops.
We put so much thought into getting the house ready for the winter that most of us forget about something equally important: winterizing the car. Before I had kids, all that meant was making sure that my tires weren’t bald, my wipers were in good working order, and all of my fluids (especially the wiper fluid) were changed and full.
But then I went and had kids, and winterizing my vehicle became so much more. Here are 10 things you need to do as a parent to winterize your vehicle. But first, make sure you're covered with an affordable car insurance policy.
1. Clean out the French fries
It’s time. They have been sitting in the crack between the console and the front seat since last January. Mice are looking for a home… with food… and a little bit of warmth. If you leave that fry on the floor of your car you are telling those mice that your family vehicle is their personal playground. Besides, you will be getting new fries on the floor of your car the next time you head to McDonald's.
2. Get a monthly car wash plan
Salt, salt and more salt. It’s going to start building up on the sides of your car and nobody will know the actual color of your vehicle. Who wants to sit out in the cold washing their car after every snowfall when they can get someone else to do it for them? It’s the best $15.00 we’ve ever spent.
3. Change out the snacks
Kids get tired of eating the same snacks all the time. Just so they don’t continually ask you what kind of snacks you have, make a trip to the grocery store and stock your vehicle much as you would your kitchen pantry. Give them every option available as you make the six-hour (?!) trip to Grandma's house this Thanksgiving. As far as drinks… NO CANS OF SODA. We have had too many cans explode in the freezing cold and it’s not much fun cleaning that mess up.
4. Give the DVD player a tune-up
Ours has yet to be used, but I know there will come a day sometime this winter when we are heading to Aunt Sheila’s house and the kids just HAVE to watch "Frozen" for the umpteenth time. Buy a backup of that movie, too, just in case.
5. Make sure there are blankets in the car
For the two minutes the kids are in the car before it starts to heat up, you want to make sure they don’t freeze to death and you don't have to listen to them complain about freezing to death.
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6. Buy a GPS
I know that everyone has built-in GPS on their phones nowadays, but there will come a time on your way to Uncle Mark’s house that you no longer get cell service. That, of course, will be precisely the moment that you decide to turn down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere and the snow starts to fall. Which leads up to...
7. Make sure your car has a cord of wood, a pot, a knife and a lighter
That snow will start to pick up and your car WILL get stuck on the dirt road that you decided to take, leaving you stranded for God knows how long. Hopefully it won't be until spring, but just in case, it’s good to be able to start a fire and boil some water. With any luck, you won’t have to kill an animal… but you have a knife, just in case.
8. Buy a flare gun
It’s important to be seen when you are buried in that snow. There probably won't be too many St. Bernards out looking for you, so when the search party flies overhead, just blast that flare off and you will be rescued in no time.
9. Store a 50-pound bag of kitty litter in the trunk
I actually have no idea why people drive around with these in their trunks, but I can only assume that you will be bringing FiFi along and she'll have explosive diarrhea.
10. Clean out the garage
Do yourself a favor and use the garage for what it was built for… parking cars. Let’s face it, it’s so much easier getting in your car in the relative comfort of your garage than it is walking all the way outside. Move all the bikes and trikes out of the way, and that saw you have been using to construct yet another bookcase should now be pushed back into its rightful place.
All it takes is a little bit of effort now before the snow falls in order for you to survive the long, dark, cold months of winter. While you're at it, contact your independent insurance agent to make sure your auto policy is up to date.
Accidents happen, especially when a blizzard hits and you decide that is the perfect time to head to the store for milk, bread and eggs. So, make sure that you're always covered with an affordable car insurance policy.