When it comes to driving in the winter, road conditions can be tough to predict. Checking the forecast can give you a heads up on the weather, and plugging your destination into a navigation app can inform you of traffic conditions before you step out the door. But what do you do when you find yourself in a situation that you didn’t prepare you for, like being stranded on the side of the road because of a flat tire or because worse-than-predicted winter weather popped up, limiting your visibility? Well, you can turn to these winter car gadgets under $20 to make your life easier and help keep you safe this winter.
1. Windshield Cover
Ice happens, especially when it is most inconvenient. For instance, you’re running late for a huge meeting. You grab your things and sprint to your car only to find a glistening sheet of ice covering your windows! You’re out of time, so you scrape off a chunk just big enough to see out of and say to yourself, “I’ll just defrost the rest on the way.” This might seem like a fast option, but it is most certainly a dangerous one. Ice can easily create dangerous blind spots and maybe even get you a ticket with a hefty fine!
Avoid this situation entirely (and all that annoying scraping) by using a windshield cover! For less than $20, you can get a durable cover to last you all winter. Put the cover on the night before and wake up to a clean, clear windshield. And remember, precipitation can cause ice buildup, too. So, even if there’s no rain in the forecast, go ahead and cover your windshield when it’s cold outside.
2. Emergency Roadside Kit
This one might be more of a collection of gadgets, but it made our top gadgets list for one simple reason: you need it. After all, you never plan on breaking down on the side of the road, but when it happens, having the right tools can help get you back on the road a lot sooner. You can find many different emergency roadside kits for less than $20, each with a variety of tools. Whichever one you choose to go with, we recommend having at least these items included:
- Jumper cables
- LED roadside cones
- A ratchet and socket set
- Tire pressure gauge
- Electrical tape
An emergency roadside kit is a great thing to keep in your car year-round, but it could prove vital in the winter. You don’t want to break down on the side of the road in below-freezing temperatures with snow falling.
While emergency kits are great, they can’t fix everything. With roadside assistance and 24-hour emergency towing from Direct, help can be there when you need it, rain, snow, or shine.
3. Tire Pump
It’s true that your vehicle’s tires lose air pressure easier in the winter. When you’re out and about, especially if roads are slick, the last thing you need is to have a deflated tire and poor handling. Luckily, portable tire pumps are available around the $20 price range. These pumps work great in a pinch and easily run off your car’s battery. If your tire is losing pressure fast, you’ll probably need to head into a tire shop to get it repaired. But if your tires just need a little pick-me-up, a portable tire pump will work nicely.
4. Phone Mount
Across the country, lawmakers and police officers are trying to stop distracted driving. Some states are even fining you for simply holding your phone while driving! With all the crazy winter weather and holiday traffic, it’s more important than ever to remain focused on the road. If you have to use your phone for directions, a phone mount on your dashboard or windshield is your best bet. This keeps your phone out of your hand and in an accessible area of sight–instead of glancing down at your car’s cup holders. From suction cups to ones that you hook to your air vents, there’s a phone mount for practically every vehicle. You can even make your own smartphone mount with a rubber band to save money!
5. Deer Whistle
Not all threats come from winter weather or other drivers. The winter season is also an active time for deer. In fact, according to the Insurance Information Institute, nearly two million insurance claims were filed this past year (July 2021 through June 2022) due to animal-related accidents. One way to help avoid hitting deer is with a deer whistle. When attached to your car, the device will make a whistling sound that can supposedly be heard by deer but is well outside the range of human hearing.
However, researchers may say otherwise. A 2007 study from the University of Georgia found deer whistles are “likely not effective in altering deer behavior along roadways to prevent collisions.” Still, others believe this sound could help alert deer to your car before it’s too late.
While the weather outside may be frightful, you can stay warm and cozy in your vehicle this winter knowing you’ve got the right gadgets. To stay even more prepared, check that you’ve got the right insurance coverage.
For instance, collision coverage can come in handy if you slide in a guardrail, and comprehensive can help if you hit a deer. Whatever coverage you need, Direct can help you find car insurance that’s right for you. Call or come in today for a free quote.