Winter Weather Madison

Morgan Leissring shovels her car out of the snow on North Carroll Street earlier this year. Several components of a vehicle should be checked ahead of winter, according to FEMA, and drivers should keep supplies in their cars in case they get stranded.

Q: How should I prepare my car for winter?

A: Frigid and icy weather that’s common for Wisconsin winters can damage vehicles or make them less safe, but checking a few components of the car can prevent those problems, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Drivers should check that the antifreeze and engine oil are at the appropriate level, that battery terminals are clean, that brakes aren’t worn, that the heater and defroster are functioning, that tire tread is adequate for snow, the exhaust system isn’t leaking or clogged and that all exterior lights are working and clearly visible, according to FEMA. The gas tank should also be kept as full as possible to prevent the fuel line from freezing.

If any fluids are low, they should be replaced, and any dysfunctional or broken parts should be replaced.

Having a kit of items for emergency can also be important, should your car be stranded in a winter storm, according to FEMA.

FEMA suggests keeping supplies in your car including:

  • A first aid kit.
  • A shovel.
  • A tow chain.
  • An ice scraper and small broom.
  • Cat litter or sand to help tire traction.
  • Jumper cables.
  • A battery-powered or crank-operated radio.
  • Flares or high-visibility reflective triangles.
  • Blankets or a sleeping bag.
  • Snack foods and water.
  • Matches.

— Shelley K. Mesch

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Shelley K. Mesch is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. She earned a degree in journalism from DePaul University.