Winter is on it’s way, and just like with your home or your attire, your car needs to be prepared to survive the cold weather we’re about to face. The snow and cold brings about lots of new challenges for your day to day life, and is about to bring a bit of havoc to your vehicle.Preparation is the key to getting you and your family through this winter safe, warm and happy.

Put together an emergency kit. This is a good tip for year round travel, but should be edited a bit to include items you’ll need to survive in case of a break down mid-winter. Your kit should include these basics: a change of clothes, a first-aid kit, road flares, a flashlight, a bag of sand, an ice scraper, extra pairs of gloves, and some high protein snacks like nuts or jerky. It’s a good idea to keep an insulated poncho and hand warmers in this kit as well, to try and stay warm.

Do a thorough check of your antifreeze and coolant levels. Make sure to look at all the fluid levels in your vehicle, but these especially. Antifreeze does what it’s name says – keeps your engine from freezing in the dead of winter. It’s best to check these before you make trips, and to look at your vehicle’s manual to verify you’ve got the proper level and mixture.

If you don’t have them already, switch to an all season or your winter tires to face the icy roads. Regardless of the tires on your vehicle, check to make sure that you have proper tread depth and tire pressure. Tire pressure can be checked with simple tools from auto stores, and if you’re unsure check with someone at your local auto parts clerk to verify where your vehicle should be at. You can test your tread depth by performing the “Lincoln test.” Insert a penny with Lincoln’s head pointed towards your tread, if you can see all of his head it’s time to replace your tires.

The next time you take your car in for an oil change, switch to winter grade oil. The colder it is outside, the thinner you want the oil in your vehicle. While you’re at it, switch your windshield wiper fluid to a winter-grade option. It will help keep your fluid from freezing on your windshield when you need to wash off all that road salt.

If you do nothing else on this list, at least make sure to include an emergency kit for the winter. Accidents happen, and it could mean the difference between life or death for you and your loved ones if you’re stranded. Drive save this winter and stay warm!