It’s just about winter, and the first snow has already fallen. If you haven’t already started prepping your winter auto tool kits, now’s the time to do it.
I’ve got a couple of winter-time favorites, and know many of you do as well. Let’s hear about ’em!
Here are most of my notable favorites:
Mallory Snow Brushes
I reviewed the Mallory Ultra Maxx snow brush two years ago, and it’s still my favorite. These snow brushes, at least the ones I own and use, are about as indestructible as they come!
Unless something has changed, these brushes should still be made in Canada, and Canadians know a thing or two about snow.
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They also make an extending pivoting head brush (also available on Amazon), but I like to use the simpler brush whenever possible. With the Telebroom, the pivot is a potential weak spot, although mine has been growing strong for a couple of years now.
My Mallory brushes are entering their 6th season of service.
Rain-X Windshield Washer Fluid
Back in college, I used a gallon of the cheap blue stuff once or twice with my first car. It was always a pain, because it would freeze onto my windshield in winter, doubling or tripling how long it took before I could get going. Then I discovered Rain-X’s windshield washer fluid, and I’ve used it ever since.
Rain-X used to offer a special orange winter formula and greenish summer bug-clearing formula, but they’ve become harder to find in my area. I recently picked up another gallon, but all I could find this time was the 2-in-1 formula.
This washer fluid works well to help clear away that last bit of ice or frost that I might have missed when scraping or brushing off the windshield. And even in the harshest weather, it doesn’t freeze up on the windshield, at least not to my experience.
The all-season formula is rated for temperatures as low as 0°F, but the de-icer and 2-in-1 formulas are rated for temperatures as low as -25°F. I try to buy the one with the better cold-weather rating whenever possible.
You can find Rain-X fluid for $3-$5 or so at auto supply shops and some big box retailers.
Energizer Lithium Batteries
I have discussed batteries and cold weather before, but it’s a good time to bring this up again.
Lithium batteries cost appreciably more than alkaline batteries, but they fare a lot better in cold weather. They also have longer shelf lives.
I use Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries in AA and AAA sizes. They offer a cheaper version under “Advanced Lithium” branding, and while they aren’t quite as good in cold weather, they are still better than alkaline batteries.
I sometimes use Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries in place of rechargeable Eneloops in higher powered devices, such as the Zebralight LED headlamp I reviewed last year. But mainly, I use Lithiums when I know I’ll need consistent and reliable battery power out in the cold.
My current favorite toss-in-a-glove-box flashlight is Rayovac’s 2AA indestructible model ($15 via Home Depot). I keep one in my car, one in the wife’s, and I gave away a bunch of the camo ones that were heavily discounted at Home Depot after last year’s holiday season. These are basic flashlights, but they’re tough and seem to offer great bang for the buck while still being reliable.
Lithium cells cost around $2 each and they’re not rechargeable. But they’re worth it. Lithium batteries definitely offer superior cold-weather performance, but I still check my glove box flashlights every now and then to make sure the batteries haven’t leaked. I also try to remember to bring another good flashlight on all longer or nighttime road trips.
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So what are your favorite winter-time tools or supplies?