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Protect Your Car From Winter
Your car is a major investment, and winter can be hard on it. But there are things you can do to minimize the wear and tear on your car during the cold and snow. Experts suggest:
Check your tires. Have an expert check your tires to make sure they are not showing signs of wear. If you live in a place where you need special winter tires, have them installed – on all four wheels – before the ice and snow hit in earnest. Then be careful not to over-inflate your tires. Cold weather can make tires harder and therefore less flexible and less able to grip the road. Over-inflation compounds that problem.
Check your fluids. Make sure your antifreeze has been replaced recently, and always have additional antifreeze on hand. Also check your windshield wiper fluid, and carry extra with you when you are on the road. While you are at it, check your wipers to make sure they are not worn; if they are, replace them. And when you park, lift your wipers away from your windshield if possible, so that they don’t freeze to the surface. That also makes it easier to clean your windshield.
Replace your battery if needed. Cold weather draws down your battery, so have the charge checked and, if necessary, invest in a new battery.
Protect the exterior. The outside of your car can take a beating from the cold, road salt, wind, etc. A garage is the best protection, but if you don’t have access to a garage, consider a heavy-duty car cover. Also consider a mat or similar cover for the garage floor, to keep the melted snow and salt from getting everywhere. And whenever there is a relatively warm and sunny day, run the car through the car wash, paying special attention to the undercarriage.
Make sure you have supplies for bad weather. You should have a winter weather kit in your car that contains a flashlight, kitty litter or a traction mat to put under your tires if you get stuck, and a shovel to use if that doesn’t work. Also have flares, a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, water and energy bars. And whenever you are driving in winter, make sure that your cell phone is fully charged and that someone knows where you are going and when you plan to be back.
Finally, it is important to keep an eye on the weather in winter, whether you are driving or not. Watch the forecast, and be ready for whatever comes. Stockpile plenty of blankets, food and water in case you lose power. Keep enough prescription medication on hand to last at least three or four days. Keep your cell phone charged if snow or ice is expected. If you have a generator, make sure it runs properly and has fuel. Check on elderly friends and neighbors who might need help during a storm. And hunker down and stay safe until the weather clears.