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September 16, 2009

Prepare in the Fall, Be Ready in the Winter

Winter car The fall is the perfect time to prepare your car for the approaching winter driving season. The cooler fall temperatures serve as an excellent

reminder that the time is now to prepare your car for the winter weather season and its accompanying poor driving conditions. But amazingly, according to the Car Care Council, an estimated 70% of motorists fail to winterize their cars.


A little preventive maintenance can reduce the chances of encountering car trouble, saving you from an unpleasant, expensive or even deadly experience. Just like a professional mechanic or auto technician, drivers with even the most limited expertise can perform the same simple steps to protect their vehicles from the ravages of the unforgiving winter season:


• Check your tire pressure and tread depth: Use a pressure gauge and the coin test to determine if your tire tread is deep enough to insure good traction. Look for uneven wearing which can be dangerous.

• Check your battery, exhaust system, heater and defroster: Often neglected, make sure the battery is not past its lifespan, and that the terminals are tight and free of corrosion. Hoses and belts should be inspected for cracks. Now is the time to discover if your heater is broken - not when the temperature drops.

• Check your antifreeze: Make sure that 50/50 antifreeze/water mixture is at its proper radiator level. If the coolant is two years old, get it flushed and refilled.

• Change your oil every 3,000 miles: If you live in a colder climate consider using a lighter, “winter weight” oil. Refer to your owner’s manual for guidance.

• Check your windshield wipers and blades: Replace the blades twice a year and make sure you have extra wiper fluid on hand.

• Be sure your 4-wheel drive system and brakes are working properly.

• Keep an emergency kit in your car that includes a flashlight, blanket, jumper cables, clothes, tool kit and even food.


Winterizing a car is not a difficult, expensive or time consuming task, but most drivers do not think about seasonal maintenance until they’re stuck on the side of the road with an avoidable vehicle malfunction. Winterizing your car is actually minor vehicle maintenance that more than pays for itself in improved vehicle performance, a lesser chance of vehicle breakdown, and most of all by giving a driver the peace of mind knowing that their car is ready for the possibilities of harsh winter driving conditions.


For more car winterizing tips, visit RTM's Car Care Archives.


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