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Be Prepared

If you take the time to prepare your car before you leave, you can make winter driving safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

Winterize Your Car

A well-maintained car is a safer car. Have your mechanic check fluid levels (oil, wiper fluid, antifreeze, etc.) and ensure that the following items are in good working order:

  • Battery
  • Ignition system      
  • Lights
  • Brakes
  • Heater/defroster    
  • Wipers

Clear Your Car of Ice and Snow

Driving on wintry roads is challenging enough without ice, snow and fog blocking your vision. Follow these tips to see clearly. 

  • The fastest way to clear windows:
    • Turn the fan to the highest setting.
    • Set the temperature to the hottest setting.
    • Turn the dial to the Defrost setting.
    • Switch on the air conditioner (this may sound odd, but it helps remove moisture from the air).
    • Turn the air recirculation switch to OFF. This will reduce fogging of the windows while you drive. Removing snow and ice from your shoes before you get into the vehicle can also help reduce fogging.
    • Check your wipers for ice buildup, which can reduce their effectiveness and impair visibility.
  • Remove all snow and ice from your vehicle, not just from all windows and the windshield, but also from mirrors, headlights, taillights, and the roof of the car. Snow, ice and dirt buildup can dim the beams of lights and reduce visibility, and snow and ice from the roof can fall onto your windshield and block your view on the road. Clearing your car is important to protect others as well. In fact, it’s the law: If snow or ice from your vehicle impairs the vision of other drivers by hitting their windshields, the road or the shoulder, you could be hit with a hefty fine.  
  • Can’t find an ice scraper? Try these.
    • Expired credit card or used gift card
    • Old CD or CD case
    • Dustpan
    • Plastic spatula
    • Plastic putty knife
    • Plastic ruler
    • Plastic food container without the lid
    • Windshield wiper fluid - pour directly on windshield

Warning: Do not use metal tools to scrape ice - it could scratch the windshield. Also, to avoid cracking glass, never use hot water to melt ice on your windows.

Stock Up For Emergencies

  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid fuel line freeze-up.
  • Stock your car with winter supplies. For a complete list of emergency supplies to keep in your car, see our Emergency Fact Sheet or download this printable PDF.  

Plan Your Route

  • Use Mi Drive. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) provides this useful online tool to help you get to your destination safely. By logging into Mi Drive, motorists gain instant access to:
    • Hundreds of cameras showing Michigan state highway conditions in real time, providing valuable information about snow cover, visibility, etc. 
    • Information about maintenance operations in some parts of the state, including where MDOT plows are located on M, I, and US-routes.
    • The location of road backups or closures due to crashes or incidents, and if traffic is stopped, slowed or free-flowing
    • Where construction zones are located and any resulting traffic backups
    • The location of rest areas and carpool lots

You can also use Mi Drive to sign up for MDOT email alerts and report potholes. Access Mi Drive at

  • Allow plenty of time to reach your destination so you won’t be tempted to drive faster than you should.
  • Let someone know where you’re going. Tell a friend or family member your planned route and estimated time of arrival (ETA). 

Set 'Em and Forget 'Em

One of the top causes of distracted driving is trying to adjust controls while on the road. Before you leave your driveway, adjust the settings for:

  • Preferred radio stations and volume
  • Rearview and sideview mirrors
  • Seat position
  • Temperature/fan
  • GPS