To say it was a cold start to winter for the great majority of us would be an understatement. Many cities on the East Coast saw the coldest first week of January on record, and temperatures in the northern states frequently dropped to below 30°F. (That’s the “real temperature,” not even factoring in wind chill … which at that point is likely irrelevant.)

Here in Kansas City, we had two solid weeks plus when the weather never got above freezing. A few mornings in a row started at 2 below, with the highs climbing to a wicked 8, maybe 9 degrees. This is the type of weather where you start your car and hope to warm it up, but the temperature gauge doesn’t even budge for at least 20 minutes.

Taking time to prepare for wintry weather and super-cold temperatures is a simple thing you can do to bring yourself a little comfort and ease, if and when the next deep freeze hits. Check out our tips below for smooth cruising the rest of this winter – we’ll assume you know about checking your battery, fluids, tire pressure, etc.!

  • For those of you (like me) who don’t have heated seats, a small blanket works as a replacement in a flash. Keep the blanket somewhere warm in your house for added coziness. Better-insulated blankets will stay warmer longer. Added bonus: It’s a good idea to have a warm blanket in your car during winter months in case your car breaks down.
  • Keep a can of de-icer and a good ice scraper in your trunk. As far as ice scrapers go, it’s worth the extra investment to get a good one. Never again will you be stuck in chillingly cold temperatures scraping tiny lines of ice off your windshield – or has this only happened to me?
  • Put a sheet over your windshield when winter precipitation is forecast, and hold it down with your wipers and doors. This makes for super easy removal of any snow or ice that accumulates. Or buy a super fancy protector made specifically for this purpose.
  • If you don’t have a garage, or if you’re parking outside overnight for another reason, park facing east so that the rising sun will help melt ice and snow off your car.
  • Put some pieces of cardboard and a pair of big socks in your trunk. The cardboard provides good traction if you get stuck on ice or in snow, and you can put the socks on over your shoes for added traction. If you live a particularly snowy state, don’t forget the shovel. (Use your car mats in a pinch if you find yourself stuck in snow without the cardboard.)
  • If winter weather is forecast, raise your windshield wipers at night and cover them with socks. This will prevent them from freezing, and from getting frozen onto the windshield or trapped under big chunks of ice.

And here are some additional tips from former “Car Talk” host Ray Magliozzi.

What are your favorite cold-weather hacks for your car?

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