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Which car tools are best for driving in the snow?

If the snow starts falling and all you can think about is how you will get to work, chances are that question can lead to some anxiety and tension. It’s worse if you aren’t used to driving in the snow and ice, whether you’re new to an area or it’s one of those rare winter storms. You don’t have to feel anxious driving on snowy or icy roads if you’re properly prepared. It doesn’t take much to be prepared for winter road conditions, either. All you need to stay safe is a handful of winter driving tools kept in your trunk or inside your home.

In this article: Cartman Jumper CablesSubZero Ice Scraper and WawaAuto Tire Traction Mats

Top 10 tools for cars 

The list of items you could keep on hand to be prepared for a car emergency or bad weather during the winter months is practically endless, but some of the best to have are:

  • Jumper cablesHopefully you already have a pair of these as they’re one of a few basic car-related emergency preparedness items everyone should have. It’s extra-important to have them in the winter months, as cold winter weather can quickly and easily sap an otherwise healthy battery all the way to dead.
  • Jump starterJumper cables have one major downside: You need the help, and the battery, of a good Samaritan to give you the boost. Jump starters have no such downside as they’re just a big, powerful portable battery. They have alternate downsides, though, such as you having to regularly ensure that it’s charged and ready, the fact that the cold can also sap it and that they’re much more expensive than a basic pair of cables.
  • Snow broom and ice scraperOne of the easiest ways to get stuck is to drive right into heavy snow because you couldn’t see out of your car. Both of these tools are wise to keep on hand, even though you may only need one. For example, snow brushes are used to remove the build-up of snow on top of your car so it can’t suddenly slide forward while you drive, blocking your windshield. Ice scrapers are used to scrape off any ice that may have accumulated on your windshield, windows and mirrors. You can also find combination snow brush and ice scrapers, though these can sometimes be a little unwieldy.
  • Snow chainsIf you’re new to the land of ice and snow, then you’re probably not familiar with tire chains. These get wrapped around your tires to give them more traction on slippery roads. Some are easier than others to install, so you should practice getting them off and on before you really need them. You also need to make sure they actually fit your winter tires.
  • Tire traction matSometimes when you get stuck, you’re just in a bit of a jam, rather than in a dangerous situation. Usually, these little jams are because you’re struggling to gain traction. If that’s the situation, and you don’t have or can’t put on tire chains, having a traction mat to slip under your wheels can easily give you the boost you need to get back on the road.
  • ShovelIf your situation is slightly more dire, you may need to move some snow out of the way. You could do it with your hands, which is miserable, or you could have a small shovel on hand to help you out.
  • Rock salt: If it’s not snow you’re trying to move but ice, the best method of attack is to melt that ice. Rock salt is the most natural way to do it and also the fastest.
  • Snowmelt: However, rock salt only works if you’re in snowy weather conditions no colder than 5 degrees. If the temperature drops even more, you’ll need chemical snowmelt. This can work in freezing temperatures of -15 to -25, depending on the formula.
  • Tow strap: If you’re caught in terrible driving conditions and your car goes careening off the road into a snow-packed ditch, you’re going to need two things to get out: towing gear and a powerful vehicle. The vehicle you can’t prepare for, but the towing gear you can. There are several kinds, but straps are generally best for basic car retrieval.

Winter driving tools to avoid getting stuck in the snow

Best Cartman Jumper Cables

Cartman Jumper Cables

These cables have ridged teeth on the clamps to help keep them in place, even on smooth surfaces. They come in three lengths and five gauges.

Sold by Amazon

Best Noco Jump Starter

Noco Jump Starter

This starter can jump up to 40 times on a single charge and can be used successfully on gasoline engines of up to 9 liters and diesel engines of up to 7 liters. 

Sold by Amazon

Best Snow Joe Snow Brush

Snow Joe Snow Brush

This brush has LED lights built into the head so you can clearly see what you’re doing, even in the darkest parking lot. It also has a telescoping pole for lengths of 33 to 52 inches.

Sold by Amazon

Best SubZero Ice Scraper

SubZero Ice Scraper

This scraper is larger than most at 10 inches long, with a 4-inch-wide blade. This lets you clear more faster, so you can get to work on time even if you start clearing late.

Sold by Amazon

Best Security Chain Tire Chains

Security Chain Tire Chains

Options are the name of the game for these chains, as there are 17 that can be attached to the wheels of passenger cars, pickup trucks and SUVs.

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Best WawaAuto Tire Traction Mats

WawaAuto Tire Traction Mats

These mats (two included) fold in three places to make it easier to keep them in your car and to give you a chance to adjust to unlevel terrain. 

Sold by Amazon

Best Cartman Shovel

Cartman Shovel

This shovel has three length settings to adjust for your needs: 23, 26 and 32.5 inches. It comes in three colors and can be bought alone or in a set that includes an ice scraper and a storage bag.

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Best North American Salt Rock Salt

North American Salt Rock Salt

This 50-pound bag of pure salt is enough to melt several patches of ice, though you might have trouble lifting and pouring it. Using your shovel to scoop and spread could help, though.

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Best Snow Joe Snowmelt

Snow Joe Snowmelt

This snowmelt is non-damaging to plant life and is safe for use around homes with pets. It comes in 25- and 50-pound bags, a 10-pound jug, a 30- and 60-pound box and a 25-pound bucket.

Sold by Amazon

Best Rhino USA Tow Strap

Rhino USA Tow Strap

This tow strap comes in six sizes with widths of 2, 3 or 4 inches and lengths of 8, 10, 20 and 30 feet. It has a break strength of 31,518 pounds.

Sold by Amazon

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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.