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ROAD & TRAVEL Car Care: Winterize Your Car for Harsh Weather

Prep your vehicle for winter weather with these easy tips

Harsh winter weather is just around the corner, and that means it’s time to prep your car for snow, sleet and all other cold and nasty conditions. While it’s a no-brainer that regular maintenance prevents seasonal break-downs, a whopping 70 percent of motorists admit to not winterizing their cars, according to the Car Care Council.

The good news? It’s not too late to sneak in the following do-it-yourself tasks from the American International Automobile Dealers Association to ensure smooth running for your ride, even in winter's blustery breezes.

1. Replace worn tires and brakes. The ability to gain traction and brake are imperative during the winter driving season. Make sure to replace old brakes and worn tires. In many areas, it may be worth the money to purchase snow tires specifically designed for traveling over slick or slushy surfaces.

2. Check your battery. Have your battery tested to make sure it’s fully charged and the terminals are clean.

3. Assess the strength of the windshield. A strong windshield is vital with the added pressure of snow, strong winds, and freezing temperatures. Make sure yours can withstand the elements.

4. Maintain car’s coat. Salt and other materials used to reduce slick on roadways can have ill effects on your car’s coat. It’s important to stay on a regular cycle of washing and waxing to prevent rust and unnecessary erosion of the car’s paint.

5. Check antifreeze levels. Check the amount of antifreeze concentration in your radiator -antifreeze should be flushed and refilled every two years. While you’re at it, examine hoses and belts for wear and tear.

6. Use winter-formulated washer fluid.
Regular washer fluids can freeze in the washer reservoir or on the windshield while driving. Special de-icer formulas will stay liquid in the reservoir at temperatures as low as -34°F.

7. Check wiper functionality. When snow, hail and ice are falling from the sky and blurring visibility, it’s essential to have properly functioning wiper blades and proper headlight alignment.

8. Change oil regularly. Check to make sure you’re changing your car’s oil at the manufacturer recommended mileage. As a general rule of thumb, oil should be changed every 3,000-4,000 miles.

9. Remove excess snow and ice from windows and lights.Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal in your vehicle. As a safety precaution, clean off your entire car after it snows, whether you’re leaving your home or returning.

10. Keep essential tools on board. Be sure to leave room in your vehicle for essential winter items, including: a spare tire, ice scraper, hammer, de-icer, flashlight, small broom, etc. in case of an unexpected need.

Specific information on service recommendations for your vehicle is available at your local dealership or by checking either the vehicle owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website.

(Source: AIADA and CarCare.org)