Updating Your Car’s Winter Emergency Kit

A woman kneeling next to her car in the winter with an emergency triangle reflector in the road.

Owning a vehicle can open up a world of winter fun. No matter what the weather might throw at you, a set of wheels gives you the freedom to enjoy your favorite activities — whether it’s skiing, shopping, or squeezing in one last road trip before the end of the year.

While the wintertime can often be a favorite season for drivers, it’s one of the worst for cars. The cold weather that the winter months bring can be harsh on your vehicle’s components. Severe conditions such as winter snowstorms and slippery road surfaces can also increase the risk of accidents, with AAA noting that nearly half a million crashes occur every year due to these types of conditions.

Before you hit the road this winter, prepare yourself and your vehicle for the unexpected. Review the most common winter issues you may face and update your car’s winter emergency kit.

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Common Issues for Drivers in Winter

Even the most prepared vehicles can experience issues as temperatures being to drop below freezing. To better prepare yourself, it’s vital to understand some of the common issues drivers can face during winter, why they occur, and how much it may cost you in terms of repairs or maintenance.

These issues can include:

Issue #1: Dead battery

Why it’s common in winter: Most people believe the cold does a lot of damage to your battery, but this is a common misconception. Hot weather is actually a lot less kind to your vehicle’s battery, but excess wear caused during summer doesn’t usually show up until the winter. A cold battery has less cranking power, and if it’s already in a weakened state, it’s much more likely to fail, leaving you in need of a replacement.

How much it can cost you: If your battery needs to be replaced entirely, you can expect to pay around $46 for labor and $278 for parts, totaling around $324 when done by a professional technician or certified repair facility.

Issue #2: Corroded components

Why it’s common in winter: Salt on roads is great for removing ice, but it can wreak havoc on some of your most vital components, such as your brake rotors. Getting regular car washes (even during the wintertime) and properly storing your vehicle can help you ensure your vehicle stays running for longer.

How much it can cost you: If multiple parts have corroded, you’re most likely looking at a hefty bill. Brake rotors alone can set you back around $404 and will only increase based on the number of other components suffering from excessive corrosion.

Issue #3: Failed spark plugs

Why it’s common in winter: Your spark plugs are needed to help ignite the reaction within your engine when you turn on your vehicle. Similar to your battery, your vehicle’s spark plugs can experience issues during the wintertime, such as your vehicle failing to start or having an engine misfire.

How much it can cost you: Though small, having your spark plugs changed by a professional can cost up to $250 for both parts and labor.

Issue #4: Deflated tires

Why it’s common in winter: Your car’s tire pressure (also referred to as PSI) can be affected by the temperatures outside. In fact, most tires lose one PSI for every ten degrees Fahrenheit the temperature drops. By not keeping your tires properly inflated, you could be at risk for a severe issue while on the road, such as a flat tire caused by a blowout.

How much it can cost you: The cost of a replacement tire can vary wildly depending on the vehicle you own. A standard car tire is around $100, while a pickup truck or SUV tire can go as high as $1,000.

Issue #5: Essential fluids thickening or freezing

Why it’s common in winter: Your vehicle needs several essential fluids to help it run, such as gasoline, engine oil, coolant, and others. During the frigid winter months, these fluids can thicken or experience freezing within their systems, leaving your vehicle more prone to leaks or costly repairs.

How much it can cost you: This will depend on the damage caused within your vehicle. However, experiencing a blown head gasket can be a common issue during the winter and has an average cost between $1,529 and $1,819 to replace it.

Protect yourself and your vehicle from costly repairs this winter with an EnduranceAdvantage™ auto protection plan. Along with providing you with comprehensive breakdown coverage for your vehicle’s most vital components, each EnduranceAdvantage plan also comes with up to $3,500 in regular maintenance services.

This includes essential services that can help your vehicle avoid any issues this winter, such as up to 3 oil and filter changes, engine diagnostic exams, PSI checks, and more. You can also receive other special, one-time services such as a battery replacement and a brake pad/shoe replacement for even more coverage and savings.

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Updating Your Car’s Winter Emergency Kit

For those living in areas with extreme winter weather, having a winter emergency kit is essential. Not only can having one help you handle some of the most common seasonal problems, but it can help put your mind at ease just knowing it’s in reach if needed.

Your emergency kit should include a variety of items for both yourself and your vehicle.

For keeping safe, warm, and connected, we recommend including:

  1. A cell phone charger, in-car charger cable, and charged external battery pack with charging cable
  2. Drinking water and non-perishable food (e.g., energy bars, granola, nuts, and dried fruits)
  3. First aid kit
  4. Emergency blankets and an insulated sleeping bag
  5. Warm clothing
  6. Waterproof footwear
  7. High-visibility vest or jacket
  8. A flashlight and extra batteries
  9. Triangle reflectors
  10. Road flares
  11. An ice scraper
  12. Compact fire extinguisher
  13. Tarp (to fashion a waterproof shelter if needed)
  14. A compass
  15. A pen and paper (to note down numbers and addresses)

To help you handle common issues that can occur while on the road, be sure to include:

  1. Protective gloves and eyewear
  2. Paper towels or cloth rags
  3. A funnel
  4. Emergency gasoline
  5. Engine oil
  6. Antifreeze
  7. Coolant
  8. Water
  9. Windshield washer fluid
  10. A spray bottle
  11. A gauge to measure tire pressure
  12. A tire inflator
  13. Tire sealant
  14. A multitool or basic toolkit (containing at least an adjustable wrench, a two-in-one screwdriver, pliers, and cutters)
  15. Duct tape
  16. Cable ties
  17. Snow shovel
  18. Cat litter or tire chains (to aid in traction)

Regardless of the season, there are also essentials you’ll need at any time of the year, such as:

  1. A spare tire
  2. A carjack and other tools to help you change a tire
  3. A portable jump starter or jumper cables

Protect Your Vehicle Year-Round with Endurance

Properly updating your car’s winter emergency kit can help give you peace of mind during the frigid winter months ahead. An Endurance breakdown protection plan can also help ensure you and your vehicle remain safe and secure this winter by helping to protect your vehicle’s most vital components from unexpected breakdowns and costly out-of-pocket repair bills.

Make sure your vehicle stays running properly for longer with routine maintenance coverage like EnduranceAdvantage. Along with providing comprehensive breakdown coverage, each EnduranceAdvantage plan comes with up to $3,500 in regular maintenance coverage to help ensure you stay up-to-date on your car’s essential maintenance needs.

Additionally, Endurance customers automatically receive 1 year of Elite Benefits by purchasing ANY Endurance protection plan and a small activation fee. That means you can get extra perks such as 24/7 roadside assistance, up to 2 tire repairs/replacements, up to $500 in collision discounts, and more – at no additional cost.

To learn more about how Endurance can help protect your vehicle, request a free, no-obligation quote or give us a call directly at 886.918.1438. You can also visit the Learning Center to find even more articles on topics such as seasonal driving tips, expert auto advice, vehicle buying guides, and much more.

A Vehicle Service Contract (VSC) is often referred to as an “auto warranty” or an “extended car warranty,” but it is not a warranty. A VSC does, however, provide repair coverage for your vehicle after the manufacturer’s car warranty expires. A VSC is a contract between you and a VSC provider or administrator that states what is a covered repair and what is not. Not all vehicles qualify for coverage; Endurance does not offer VSCs in California.