Compared to other seasons, winter driving has a unique set of challenges. If you’re not careful, the cold weather, ice, and snow can lead to situations that range from inconvenient to downright dangerous.

Whether you’re just heading to a party nearby or taking a road trip see the family, here’s some advice you should consider before driving off.

1. Pack a Winter-Ready Emergency Kit

No matter the season, you should always have a first-aid kit. For winter-specific gear, you’ll need things to help keep you warm like blankets, extra clothes, and matches. Make sure you also have a shovel, flashlight, batteries, non-perishable food, and water.

2. Give Your Car a Maintenance Check

Before you go any long drives, check if your vehicle is ready for the winter conditions. For starters, you’ll need to inspect the battery, coolant/antifreeze, wipers and windshield washer fluid, defroster and lights.

If you want to make sure your car won’t let you down, bring it to an auto shop and have them do a checkup for you.

3. Keep the Gas Tank At Least Half-Full

Keeping the tank full is one of those tips many people feel skeptical about. But in this case, it’s sound advice.

Condensation can form in the empty part of the tank. In the cold weather, that condensation can freeze and ice the fuel lines. When that happens it can be difficult to start the car, if it can even start at all.

4. Take Steps to Prevent Corrosion

Road salt is often used after a snow or ice storm to help melt ice on the road. Though necessary for safety, that salt can cause rust and corrosion on your vehicle.

To prevent damage, wash your car often to get the salt off as soon as possible. You can also give it a good waxing and having the undercarriage treated for an added layer of protection

5. Switch to Winter Tires

Have you ever seen one of those videos of cars sliding down a slippery hill? That right there illustrates the importance of having the right tires.

Even if your vehicle has all-wheel drive, it won’t do much on roads with thick snow or ice. Switch to snow tires which are specifically designed to provide traction in winter conditions. In some states, tires with studs or tire chains may even be required.

6. Clear Off the Snow before Driving

It may seem like a hassle but you should always remove the snow off your car before you hit the road. Make sure to clear it from the hood, roof, taillights, headlights, windshields, and windows.

Basically, just get rid of as much piled up snow as you can. You need to be able to see when you’re driving, after all. It also helps prevent accidents due to chunks of snow flying off from your car.

7. Know When Not To Drive

If you’ve got a long trip ahead of you, don’t forget to check the weather reports for the area’s you’ll be passing through. Be aware of Winter Storm Watch advisories that warn of possible heavy snow and ice accumulation.

If there’s an alert, perhaps it’s best to reconsider your travel plans. The risks of driving in a blizzard just aren’t worth it.

Stay safe so you can enjoy the holidays. These tips will help you and your car get through the winter in one piece.