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8 Things to Do If Your Car Breaks Down in Winter

Updated: Jan. 06, 2022

When a winter storm hits and you're on the road, there might be no time to think about survival. Remember these tips so you can act wisely in case of emergency.

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Car breakdown?

If you’re stranded in a car and can’t drive further, don’t get out. Call for help if your car broke down. Run the engine occasionally for warmth, but keep a window open. Be sure the exhaust pipe isn’t blocked by snow.

Low fuel guage shown in a car shot close up
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Run out of gas?

If the car runs out of gas, keep all the windows shut. Stay on the lookout for help. Make sure your windows are cleared of snow so passing drivers can see that there’s someone in the car. Don’t miss these 8 ways to make your car safe for winter.

fitness, sport, people, exercising and healthy lifestyle concept - young man stretching leg and warming up at fence in winter
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Stuck for a while?

Exercise or move your arms and legs for warmth and keep yourself awake. Don’t go to sleep under any circumstances.

Blizzard, strong snowstorm, snow-covered trees. A silhouette lone man walking along a forest road under the winter snowstorm

Caught outside?

If you’re caught outside while on foot, head to the nearest shelter. Tie a scarf over your nose and mouth to protect your ears and face and to prevent suffocation from the wind and snow. Check out these fixes for common winter car woes like frozen locks and foggy windshields.

Beautiful winter landscape with snow covered trees and fence
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Can’t see ahead of you?

If the snow is so bad it impairs sight, try to follow a fence or ruts in the road. Before your car broke down, it would have been helpful to know these things your mechanic won’t tell you.

a tired buried deeply in the snow
Beth Van Trees/Shutterstock

Stuck in a snowbank?

If your vehicle is really stuck, don’t wear yourself out shoveling it out, according to the News Wheel. Instead, save your energy and concentrate on staying warm. Don’t let these confusing road signs leave you stranded.

cleaning the glass machine from snow and ice brushing.

Ice scraper breaks?

Prepare for a broken ice scraper ahead of time by making sure to include a back-up scraper and brush in your vehicle. Even better, also invest in a windshield protector that will make de-icing much easier. Find out the 17 items you should always keep in your car.

Thermos bottle on the snow

Getting thirsty?

The last thing you want to do when you’re stranded is eat snow directly, according to the News Wheel. The energy your body expends warming up the snow makes it harder for you to retain body heat. If you happen to have an empty container, though, you can place snow inside of it and drink it after it melts.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest