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There are few worse feelings than having to get into a freezing car before eight a.m. While car companies are constantly adding features to combat this, such as remote starting, those who drive older models or are simply in a hurry still regularly find themselves facing that unforgiving chill. Coming from the south, in which it only snows a few inches a year total, I was, unsurprisingly, often unprepared for the winter months. Over the past few years, I’ve collected tips given from friends and family members on how to take care of my car in the cold, and I’ve shared them below for anyone else who may be unaccustomed to the effects of winter weather.

Use an ice scraper.

Normally, I’d avoid any advice that requires someone to purchase something, but in this case, it’s the best investment. Waiting for your windshield to thaw is highly tempting when the alternative is leaving the heat to stand out in the biting air, but using an ice scraper is much more efficient. It saves a lot of time and gas, and it’s better for your car. Ice scrapers are generally inexpensive and often fit right in your door, so they are conveniently ready whenever you need. In the long term, it’s better to opt for the scraper over a few minutes of comfort.

Put your wipers up.

Honestly, this still looks incorrect to me, but lifting your wipers off of the windshield when ice and snow are predicted prevents them from getting stuck to your windshield, takes added pressure off of them and makes it easier to scrape the windshield off. While it gives you an extra step the night before, it’s really not that inconvenient, and it saves a little time and struggle the next morning.

Check your tire pressure.

If you remember some basic rules of science from years ago, you may recall that lower temperatures decrease pressure. Low tire pressure can impact your driving performance and efficacy and even lead to a blowout. Regularly check your tire pressure during the winter months and familiarize yourself with what your car’s low pressure warning symbol is to help prevent this. The last thing anyone wants is to get in an accident or be stuck in the cold with a big expense on their hands.

Keep gloves in your console.

Admittedly, this last tip is geared more toward the driver than the car, but it can be a lifesaver, especially if you don’t have a heated steering wheel or your heating system is lacking. Wearing gloves while driving helps keep you more comfortable and maybe even more safe, as you’re more likely to pay better attention and use better control when your neurons aren’t urging you to warm up your hands; just make sure you don’t choose gloves that are slippery. They also come in handy for days when it’s unexpectedly cold or you simply forget to wear a pair. Similarly, sitting on a blanket or jacket you have on hand may help shield you from the cold seat.

Overall, these easy tricks can hopefully save a fair amount of time, money, safety and comfort for the cold days ahead.

Lizzie Carlson

Virginia Tech '23

I'm a senior writer and editor at Virginia Tech. I'm studying psychology with minors in sociology and women's and gender studies. I love listening to Taylor Swift, watching comedy shows, and going to the lake.