It’s Time to Prep Your Car for Cooler, Winter Weather


As the seasons change and Californians prepare for winter weather, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) continues to prepare communities statewide for an especially wet winter.  

During heavy rains, roads can become slick, leading to dangerous conditions for drivers if a vehicle is not properly maintained. Here’s a list of recommendations to prepare vehicles for wet weather.  

Check Your Tires 

Your vehicle’s tires are the first line of defense against slippery roads. Ensure that your tires are in good condition, with adequate tread depth. The minimum legal tread depth in California is 2/32 of an inch, but for wet weather, it’s advisable to have at least 4/32 of an inch for better traction. Additionally, make sure your tires are properly inflated as under-inflated tires can reduce your vehicle’s handling and braking performance. 

Replace Worn Wiper Blades 

Wiper blades are often overlooked until you really need them. In California, where rain can be infrequent, it’s easy to forget about your wiper blades until they leave streaks on your windshield during the first rainfall. Replace your wiper blades regularly to ensure clear visibility in wet conditions. It’s also a good idea to fill up your windshield washer fluid reservoir with a washer fluid designed for rain and bug removal. 

Check Your Lights 

Visibility is crucial when driving in wet weather, so make sure all your vehicle’s lights are functioning correctly. Check your headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals. Rain reduces visibility and functioning lights help you see the road ahead and allow other drivers to see you. 

Inspect Your Brakes 

Your brakes are a lifeline when it comes to safe driving in wet conditions. Have your brake system inspected by a qualified mechanic to ensure they are in good working order. It’s important that your brakes are responsive, as wet roads can lead to increased stopping distances. 

Maintain Proper Fluid Levels 

Ensure that your vehicle’s fluids are at the appropriate levels. This includes not only engine oil and transmission fluid but also brake fluid and coolant. Properly functioning fluids help maintain your vehicle’s performance and prevent overheating or brake failure in wet conditions. 

Keep Your Battery in Good Shape 

Wet weather can put added strain on your vehicle’s electrical system. Have your battery tested to ensure it’s in good condition. If your battery is old or weak, consider replacing it to avoid getting stranded. 

Prepare an Emergency Kit 

In case of unexpected delays or emergencies during wet weather, it’s essential to have an emergency kit in your vehicle. This kit should include items such as a flashlight, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, blankets, a portable phone charger and non-perishable snacks. Being prepared can make a significant difference in your safety and comfort during inclement weather. 

Learn about what Cal OES staff recommend 

Learn How to Manually Open Your Garage 

In the case of an emergency where you need to evacuate in a vehicle but the power has been shut off or even cut off, its essential to learn how to manually operate your garage. There are simple ways to manually operate a garage. First, with the door closed, unplug the overhead mechanism that operates the garage door. Then, pull on the emergency red cord that disconnects the mechanism from the garage door. Finally, manually lift the garage door.  


California is known for its sunny and typically moderate climate. However, due in part to climate change, residents of the Golden State should prepare for wetter seasons. By taking these simple steps to maintain vehicles, Californians can ensure their safety on the road and avoid potential accidents. A well-maintained vehicle not only keeps drivers and their passengers safe but also prevents accidents with other vehicles on the road. With an El Niño season on the horizon, vehicle maintenance should remain top of mind for all Californians.