Headed To The In-Laws For The Holidays? Simple Solutions To Winterize Your Car For The Upcoming Road Trip

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While many opt to stay home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, the holidays are a great time to visit your in-laws. For many, this means booking airfare or buying a train ticket. However, if you plan to skip the planes and trains this holiday season, ensuring your vehicle is safe for a holiday road trip is imperative. If you plan on joining the 46.9 million Americans traveling this Thanksgiving, now is the time to prepare your car. Using this guide on winterizing, your car will be ready for a holiday road trip to visit your in-laws.  


The tread of your tires is an important factor to consider when traveling during the holiday season. If road conditions become wet or icy, improper tread will decrease your vehicle's traction, leading to a potential accident. In addition, your in-laws will most likely critique your desire to protect your family from danger.

A few days before heading out, use the Penny Method to check your tire tread. Place a penny in between a few areas of tread on each of your tires. Be sure to face Lincoln's head down into the tread. If part of Lincoln's head is covered, you have sufficient tread for your road trip.

After checking your tread, be sure each tire has adequate air pressure. Consult your owner's manual for the recommended amount of pressure and inflate or deflate accordingly.

Under the Hood

You may change your oil every few thousand miles already, but a winter oil change is also smart. When traveling through areas of the country that are experiencing freezing temperatures, a thinner oil can reduce the stress on your car's engine. Consider thinner oil, such as 5W-30, to improve your engine's operation while protecting it from freezing temperatures.

During your oil change appointment or next car tune up, ask your vehicle technician to check your battery. Colder temperatures decreases your battery power, which can leave you stranded on the side of the road. This is stressful if you have young children, but it will become an overwhelming situation if your in-laws need to jump start your car.

Be sure your auto technician inspects the battery life, fluid, and terminals. Cables should be secure and terminals should not display any signs of corrosion.

Your technician should also place importance on your antifreeze while under the hood. Flushing out old antifreeze is smart every two years, but check your owner's manual for recommendations suited to your specific car. New antifreeze before your holiday road trip will protect your engine and fluids from freezing in the colder temperatures.

Windshield and Wipers

While you may consider your engine and tires priorities before a road trip, focusing on your windshield and wiper blades is also important. A clear line of sight through your windshield reduces your risk of accidents, so be sure your wipers are ready, willing, and able to remove rain, sleet, snow, and ice.

Before departing, check your wiper blades. If the wiper blades do not remove moisture and other buildup from your windshield or they are making loud noises during operation, they need to be replaced.

Clearing away wintry precipitation requires more than good quality wiper blades, though. Check the reservoir of your windshield washer fluid. If the fluid appears low, add washer fluid until it reaches the top of the reservoir. To prevent moisture from freezing on the glass, use a washer fluid that contains antifreeze.

When traveling to your in-laws for the holidays, you will want to arrive in a safe, timely manner. Fortunately, winterizing your car before the road trip benefits your car, your family's safety, and your stress level.  Using these simple tips to winterize your car, your arrival this holiday season will impress your in-laws.