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Moving in Winter? How to Prepare Your Car for the Trip

Tips for Traveling in Winter

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If you're moving in winter, in particular if you're moving to another city or state, you'll need to prepare for travel to your new home, including preparing your car, planning your trip and ensuring you have everything you need to arrive safely.

Prepare Your Car or Moving Truck

  1. Have your car serviced. It's critical that your car is serviced before you leave to ensure that it's been winterized. This includes changing fluids, replacing summer or all-season tires with winter tires and making sure brakes are in working order.
  2. Purchase tire chains. If you'll be traveling over mountain passes or are worried about icy roads, you might want to invest in tire chains or studs. Speak to your mechanic or local tire shop to see which size and type are best for your vehicle and road conditions.
  3. Replace wipers. Making sure your wipers are winter-ready, might require the purchase of a new pair, ones that can deal with the ice and snow. Ask your mechanic to check your wipers and have them replaced, if needed.
  4. Carry salt, sand or kitty litter (non-clumping). Always keep a bag (or two) of salt, sand or kitty litter in back of the vehicle. Not only will salt, sand or kitty litter help your tires find grip when stuck in snow, the weight stored in the back of your vehicle will assist lighter-weight vehicles, especially in icy conditions.
  5. Purchase auto club membership. Before you leave, make sure you sign up for an auto club membership, such as the American Automobile Association. Not only will you have roadside assistance should you find yourself stuck in the winter snow, but you'll often save on hotel costs and other travel services. Make sure you carry their roadside assistance number with you along with your membership card.
  6. Carry emergency supplies. If you don't have an emergency kit in your car, make sure you purchase one before your trip. You should also carry an emergency blanket, roadside flares, jumper cables, flashlight (preferably wind-up) and tow rope. You should also have water, food (something that won't spoil, like energy bars) and an emergency contact list. It's also a good idea to carry candles and matches, cell phone chargers, and pocket warmers.
  7. Carry extra clothing. Always have extra clothing on hand. This includes gloves, hats, sweaters, socks and footwear. Sleeping bags are great in an emergency so make sure you carry one for each passenger.
  8. Carry a snow shovel, ice scrapers and extra windshield fluid. Make sure the shovel you carry is strong enough to withstand heavy snow and ice. Small car shovels are often inadequate. You should also have a good ice scraper and always carry extra windshield fluid.
  9. Have extra maps and trip plans. Carry extra maps and copies of hotel addresses and phone numbers.
  10. Give trip plan to friends and family and set up a check-in plan. Make sure you create a complete trip plan then give the plan to friends and family with a time line of when you should arrive at each stop. Set up a phone-in plan, agreeing to call a point person at each stop. In case something happens, your point person will call emergency personnel and let them know the last place you called from and where you were heading.
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