Is Your Car Ready for Winter’s First Punch?


With colder weather coming, now is a good time to make sure your vehicle is up to winter’s icy test.

AAA suggests using this eight-point, do-it-yourself inspection checklist:

· Battery. Check for loose cables and corrosive buildup. Make certain your battery is fully charged. If it’s more than two years old, have it tested.
· Radiator. Fill as needed with 50/50 blend of anti-freeze and water.
· Windshield washer / wiper blades. Add no-freeze windshield-wiper fluid to the reservoir. Replace worn wiper blades.
· Belts. Make sure drive belts are tight but not cracked, glazed or frayed. Belts should not deflect more than half an inch when pushed with your finger.
· Hoses. Check for leaks, bulges and cracks. Make sure clamps are secure.
· Oil, transmission and brake fluid levels. Change oil and replace oil filter. Check your owner’s manual for the proper way to check your vehicle’s transmission and brake fluid levels.
· Air filter. Replace air filter every 7,500 miles or when dirty.
· Tires. Tire tread should be at least 1/16 of an inch on normal tires (past Lincoln’s head when inserting a penny into the tread, head first). Tires lose a pound of pressure for every drop of ten degrees Fahrenheit in the outside temperature. Inflate to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure (check owner’s manual or sticker on doorjamb).

When driving on ice or snow, remember that the trick is taking it slow and easy.

Skidding is caused by hard acceleration or braking, going too fast for conditions, and by quick, jerky movements with the steering wheel. Anticipate lane changes, turns and curves and slow down in advance. Aim high in steering, far down the road.

Allow yourself extra time – and be sure to clear all windows before starting to drive.

If your vehicle has rear-wheel drive, gain extra traction by placing heavy objects (cinder blocks, bags of sand) in the trunk of your car or in the bed of your truck. The sand can also be used to spread in front of power wheels to gain extra traction on ice. Clay-based kitty litter also works well.

Carry a winter trouble kit with you: good working flashlight with extra batteries, warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves), blankets, jumper cables, cellular telephone and battery-charging cord, first aid kit, simple tools, ice scraper, snow brush, snacks, drinking water and paper towels.

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