With winter arriving in full force early in the season, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released a thorough checklist of how to prepare for and navigate through winter driving conditions. We narrow the list to some key pointers.

Preparing for winter conditions:

Carry items in your vehicle to handle common winter driving related tasks:

      Snow shovel, broom, and ice scraper.
      Abrasive material such as sand or kitty litter, in case your vehicle gets stuck in the snow.
      Jumper cables, flashlight, and warning devices such as flares and emergency markers.
      Blankets for protection from the cold.
      Cell phone with charger, water, food, and any necessary medicine (for longer trips or when driving in lightly populated areas).

Check your battery:

For gasoline or diesel engines, be aware that it takes more battery power to start your vehicle in cold weather than in warm weather.

Make sure the battery cable connections are not loose.

Have a mechanic check the battery power, charging system and belts.

For electric or hybrid-electric vehicles, several things can be done to minimize the drain on the batteries. If the vehicle has a thermal heating pack for the batteries, make sure your vehicle is plugged in whenever it is not in use. If the vehicle has a pre-heat function to warm the car interior, set it to warm the passenger compartment before you unplug it in the morning.

Check/add coolant.

Check/add windshield washer fluid.

Check windshield wipers and consider buying heavy-duty winter wipers. Wipers are fairly straightforward to change and can take less than 10 minutes to swap out.

Check your floor mats. Make sure the driver-side mats haven't slid under the pedals. If there are hooks to anchor the mats, make sure the mats are in place.

Check your tires. You can find the correct pressure for your tires listed on the label inside the driver’s doorframe or in the vehicle owner’s manual. The correct pressure is NOT the number listed on the tire. Also, check to make sure the tread is sufficient with no uneven wear, and that the rubber is in good overall condition. Note that tire rubber starts to degrade after several years, and older tires may need to be replaced even if they have not seen much wear.

Check your spare tire.

Driving in winter conditions: