Stress. Tons and tons of stress. Figuring out how to winterize my Toyota Scion Tc has not been fun. I might come from a race car family, but I did not inherit the gene of knowing how to fix a car in any way, shape, or form. After speaking with long-time Alaskans, they gave me a checklist of things I needed to get my car ready for winter in Alaska.
How to Winterize A Car for Alaska
- The first thing they always told me to do was to buy a Subaru. 🙂
- Get an Auto Start installed.
- Buy Bridgestone Blizzak winter tires
- Have an engine block heater installed
- Have my oil changed and new anti-freeze added
- Make sure the battery is made for the cold as the cylinders can easily freeze and crack
- Have a small toolbox handy to remove the battery in case you need to bring it inside to warmup or take it to the auto store
- Have a battery charger with you at all. I bought the Weego Battery Charger as it not only can charge my car, but also my laptop
Check out my list below as to what should be in your car’s Winter Emergency Kit.
What Happened To Me
When I came home from my trip last weekend, I started checking off this list. I had the Auto Start installed by Safe & Sound before I left, but it had stopped working while I was on travel. I went back to Safe & Sound and they fixed the problem in just a few short minutes – super nice guys btw. I had an appointment at Costco to have my Blizzaks installed (I had ordered them when I was down in the Lower 48) at 5:30pm. He told me if I missed my appointment it would be close to 3 weeks before they could get me in.
At 2ish on Thursday I was ready to head into town and do a few errands. My car wouldn’t start, completely dead. I found one neighbor to come and jump me and the car still wouldn’t turn over. I started calling and texting everyone I knew to see if someone could come and help me. No one could come out that night and the next night was Halloween. I started to freak out. A little thing like my car not working totally derailed me on this day.
I had a good close family friend call me and walk me through how to take the battery out and bring it inside to warm up. Problem is, I had no tools to take the battery out. I was SO cold from being outside for 20 minutes that I sat in front of the gas fireplace trying to figure out what I was going to do. I felt helpless. I suck at mechanical things, why couldn’t I figure this out. I also felt really alone. I’m back in the woods, not really close to Anchorage, so not close for people to stop what they are doing to come out and help. I felt very vulnerable and that is not a place I like to be very often.
My roommate told me she had a small toolbox and in the morning I hooked it up to my car. I had left mine in Phoenix – yep, going to get a new one. In an hour the car started up. After a minute later, a new friend of mine Tim showed up to help. I was so relieved to see him and felt a little bad that he had to come out and I had it taken care. We were talking though and we are going to get together later and go over winter survival skills as he teaches them to all the Alaskan newbies!
I headed back to Safe & Sound Auto and they checked my battery and it was deader than a doornail. They ordered me one in and installed it for me. What was really awesome was that they had planned to come all the way out to Eagle River to help me! That’s customer service! While the battery was being ordered, I went over to Costco to beg them to put my Bridgestone Blizzak tires on. I waited for 5 hours and I finally got in – I wasn’t leaving without those tires! Rumor was a storm was headed in and I did not want to drive anyway without those tires that are specific to driving in snow and ice.
Once I went back to Safe & Sound, they put my new battery in my car and we shot this quick video. I still have a few more things to do to get my car fully winterized, like have an emergency bag in my car. Here is what I was told to keep in that bag.
Winter Emergency Bag for Cars
- Zero degree sleeping bag
- Hand warmers
- Down coat
- External battery for cell phone
- Extra Long Jumper Cables
- First Aid Kit
- Tow Straps
- Food & water
- Battery Charger for car (I use Weego)
Datrex Emergency Survival Water Pouch – they will freeze, but small enough to warm up quickly
Thank you for everyone’s kind words of support – they were needed and very much appreciated. I knew it wasn’t the end of the world, but for me, feeling helpless and at the mercy of other’s help is not something I am good at. Then when no one could come out, I just felt so alone. It made me second guess staying in an environment that I am not comfortable in at all.
So if you are going to live in Alaska, make sure your battery can withstand the cold. Oh, and have tires that are not meant for Arizona heat (don’t even get me started). But really, come up with a plan before something happens so you don’t end up stressed and freaked out over a dead battery, which in the big scheme of things, is not huge. Sigh.
But I made it. My car is working and it is a few steps closer to this winter. I still am freaked out about winter, but I can only take each moment as it comes and prepare for the worst and hope for the best.