My kid moved to Chicago and drives a Saturn.

I’m a Californian-does she need snow tires? What else for winter.


I’d have the cooling system flushed and refilled with the right mix of coolant / antifreeze if it hasn’t been done in the last year, and put in a new thermostat at that time, too. Oil change, would be good as well. (Those are common sense things, though.)

As for the snow tires, a decent set of all-weather road tires will probably work well on a small front wheel drive car like the Saturn, but if she’s going to see, like, 6 inches of snow that doesn’t melt for a few months, then yeah, snow tires might be prudent.


Chicago has lots of snow plows, so she should not need anything, other than experience at driving in snow/ice conditions, which will come by the end of the first season.

Snow tyres will not hurt and would be a good idea, but not necessary. The first winter will be a learning experience with or without snow tyres.

Nothing else needed.


All westher tires, make sure they have good tread. Oil change, coolant change, battery check, clean connections to battery (most cold weather starts are corrosion related), wiper blades, maybe an air filter. Chicago is pretty snowy in winter, but more than that . . can be really COLD.


Good wiper blades and keep the fuel tank topped off. If you don’t drive many miles, thermal cycling can cause moisture condensation inside the tank, which can turn to ice. By keeping the amount of “air” at a minimum, you lower the surface area available for condensation to form. Good practice anytime for low mileage cars in any climate, but especially in winter.


Snow removal is a big political issue in Chicago-- entire political machines have been toppled by failure to plow and salt fast enough. As a result, the plowing is usually very fast, but they also use TONS of salt, so your daughter should be just fine without snow tires and she should invest the money she saves in carwashes-- with all the salt on the road if you’re not dilligent about washing the underside of your car, it’ll rust out fast.


I would have a snow shovel in the trunk for when the plow buries the car. A snow brush and scraper for clearing the snow is good. Keep the top of the vehicle clear of snow so it does not thaw and freeze the doors shut. Some deicer fluid would be good, but don?t keep it in the car where you can?t get it if the doors do freeze shut.


I’d recommend that those wiper blades be rubber-booted winter blades. They make an enormous difference by keeping the arms from icing up. They’re available at any Wal Mart…I just bought some for my car for $5.88 a blade.


Before winter, I would change the oil to a 5W30 weight synthetic. This will make starting the car on those frigid mornings a lot easier.

If you are not confident of the battery, that would be a good thing to replace. Be sure to get a model designed for cold weather. If your kid buys it in Chicago, that won’t be a problem - that is all they sell. Don’t cheap out - get a top of the line battery.

Make sure the windshield washer fluid is mostly store bought fluid. If it is mostly water, the lines will freeze. Make sure to have some on hand, you can go through a lot when it snows.

Have someone check the coolant. It should be good to -25F or so. If not, you will have to drain out some of the existing coolant and add pure antifreeze.

If you are overdue for new spark plugs, do it before winter.

I agree with the previous posters that a set of good all season tires with a lot of tread left should be sufficient. If you a near having the wear strips exposed, I would buy a new set before winter.


The windsheild washer fluid should be “winter mix” only. “Summer mix” is also readily available in the stores and will freeze in the lines.


I’d recommend that those wiper blades be rubber-booted winter blades. They make an enormous difference by keeping the arms from icing up. They’re available at any Wal Mart…I just bought some for my car for $5.88 a blade.

I HATE those blades. They’re GREAT when it’s snowing real hard and you’re just drudging through the snow…but how many days a year does that happen. Most of the time (even in winter) there isn’t any precipitation and driving down the highway at 70 those blades just LIFT off the windshield. My wife bought then one year for her Accord. The second we had light snow she got rid of them…They were useless.


Aha! The secret is to buy them 1" or 2" (for longer blades) shorter than the OEM size to keep the lift down. I’ve been doing this for many years and it works.


Thanks mb I may try that.


Thank you all for the great information. As a parent, it’s really appreciated-just need to get her to follow the advice, right? Or perhaps those “first learning experiences” will take care of it.

Thanks again.


I’d advise her to hook up with afriend,colleque,boyfriend,etc who lives there and one she call with the mant questipns she will have. Brrrrr!! left California for Chicago,huh!


Chicago is no worse than a lot of other Northern cities. Use 5W30 oil, synthetic preferred, battery checked, cooling system preparation, all season tires with reasonably tread left on them is all you need. If you have access to an electical outlet where you park, an electric engine block heater is a great investment. I’ve had these for years, and it’s nice to get in a car that starts instantly and and warms up quickly. Remember, each cold start is equal to 500 miles of driving in terms of engine wear. The block heater will pay for itself quickly in terms of better gas mileage and less engine and battery wear. I get 7 years out of a good quality battery by plugging in during very cold days, and when I have to park ouside.