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Prep Your Car for Cold Weather

Here are four tips to help you avoid the dangers of driving in winter.

cars on a highway in winter conditions, image
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Photo: imantsu/Shutterstock
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Slick roads and poor visibility can be a hazardous mix. Plan ahead and stay safe.

Winter drives can be quiet, peaceful, and starkly beautiful. But they can also be dangerous. Before you venture out in cooler weather, make sure your car is ready for the season. There’s more to winterizing than topping up your antifreeze (although that’s a good place to start).

Keep a clear view

Make sure your headlights are clean and working properly, and that your windshield wipers are sturdy enough for ice and slush. Slick roads and poor visibility can be a hazardous mix.

Check your tires

All-season radials can handle nearly every winter road condition—if they’re properly inflated. Tires lose pressure as the temperature drops, so check periodically throughout the winter. To test for excess wear, stick a penny in the treads with Lincoln upside down. If you can see the top of Abe’s head, your tires should be replaced.

Minimize risks

To lower your odds of breaking down, make sure your vehicle’s engine belts are in good shape, the air and fuel filters still have plenty of life, and the battery terminals are clean. When it’s time for an oil change, ask your service team about lubricants that offer better engine protection in cool temperatures.

Be prepared

Make space in the trunk for jumper cables, a flashlight, a windshield ice scraper, gloves, a first-aid kit, nonperishable snacks, and bottled water in case you get stranded. Sand or kitty litter can help, too; spread it out to get traction when you really need it.

This article was first published in Fall 2015. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.