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Preparing your car for cold weather

AAA Carolinas

The morning chill in the air across the Carolinas signals that it is time to “winterize” your vehicle for the upcoming cold weather season. AAA has designated October as Car Care Month to remind all motorists to check their vehicles before the onset of winter driving conditions.

“The switch from warm weather to cold temps can be tough on your vehicle,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “There are some simple checks and maintenance that you can do right now to help your vehicle stay in top condition.”

AAA Carolinas recommends that motorists:

  • Check the battery — Cold weather is hard on batteries. At a comparatively mild 32 degrees, a battery is 35 percent weaker than at warmer temperatures. At zero degrees, a car’s battery loses approximately 60 percent of its strength. A battery load test performed by a qualified technician will determine a battery’s strength for winter starts.
  • Check the tires — They should always be inflated to their specified poundage and have enough tread to handle all road conditions. To check tire tread, look for “wear bars” that periodically run across the hollow of each tread. If the tread has been worn down to the same height as the wear bar, it’s time for new tires.
  • Check the windshield wipers, fluid and defroster — Driving with a wet, snow- or ice-covered windshield invites a crash. Make sure wipers and the defroster are in good working order. Verify that windshield washer fluid reservoirs are filled with no-freeze washer fluid.
  • Check the engine coolant system — Mix the cooling system antifreeze with an equal portion of water for maximum protection. Have a repair facility check the level of protection with a hydrometer.
  • Pack an emergency car kit — Motorists should be prepared in case they are stranded. A winter emergency car kit should contain a flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, general first aid kit, tire chains, blanket, extra set of clothes, non-clumping kitty litter for traction, flares or reflective triangles, cell phone with extra batteries, gallon jug of water, non-perishable food items, window washer solvent, ice scraper, snow brush and shovel.

“Getting your winter car maintenance completed before the first winter storm can prevent a car from breaking down, but also save you from delays in getting service because auto repair facilities get extremely busy once winter weather officially arrives,” added Wright.

For more information on automotive issues and to find a AAA approved auto mechanic in your area, go to www.aaa.com/carmaintenance.

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