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Winterizing Your Vehicle

According to the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence on getting Your Vehicle Ready For Winter, says that it is so very important that we be sure we are prepared so we may be SAFE, WARM AND OUT OF THE HARSH ELEMENTS--think of all the times we've seen others in distress because they didn't take the time to prepare their vehicles for the winter season--let's be saf(er) this year. The MAIN safety pre-cautionary measure is mechanical failure which can be DEADLY in the winter. Preventive maintenance is a must!
Some of the following tips can be performed by any do-it-yourselfer; others require the skilled hands of an auto technician. They make the following suggestions:

-- Read your owner's manual and follow the manufacturer's recommended service schedule.

--Engine Performance - Get engine driveability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at your repair shop. Cold weather makes existing problems worse. Replace dirty filters-air, fuel, PCV, etc. Talk to your mechanic and describe your concerns.

Fuel - Put a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. A gas tank which is kept filled helps keep moisture from forming.

Oil - ALWAYS Change your oil and oil filter--around every 3,000 miles--this will keep your engine properly lubricated.

Cooling System - The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled as recommended. Use A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water.

The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a technician or mechanic.

Windshield Wipers - Replace old blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice build-up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent-you'll be surprised how much you use. Carry an ice-scraper.

Heater/Defroster - The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility. When using your interior heat, use your vent--this saves on gas.

Battery - The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly.

Exhaust System - Your vehicle should be placed on a lift and the exhaust system examined for leaks. The trunk and floor boards should be inspected for small holes. Exhaust fumes can be deadly.

Cold weather will only make existing problems worse. A breakdown -- never pleasant -- can be deadly in winter.

Tires - Worn tires will be of little use in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressures once a month. Let the tires "cool down" before checking the pressure. Rotate as recommended.

Don't forget your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.

EMERGENCIES- Carry gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, a flash light, and a cell phone. Put a few "high-energy" snacks in your glove box.

Don't get caught out there unprepared and if you can, travel well-traveled roads and buy a "Call Police Bannner for both the front and back of your vehicle. Have a great day!

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