December 4, 2000
Tips for preparing your vehicle for winter driving
from Americn Automobile Association (AAA)
Preparing your vehicle for the rigors of winter driving can eliminate the possibility of a preventable breakdown. Plus, a well-maintained vehicle will have better fuel economy during these times of high fuel prices.
Use your owner's manual to learn how to prepare your vehicle for winter driving conditions, because your owner's manual has a detailed maintenance schedule specifically for your vehicle. Before adding any fluids to your vehicle, be sure to verify with your owner's manual all types and concentrations of fluids.
Check the following items on your vehicle:
€ Batteries and Charging Systems: Recharge or replace weak batteries. Make sure the battery posts are clean of corrosion. Check the battery case for cracks or bulging. If appropriate, check the fluid levels of the battery. Inspect ignition wires, distributor cap and spark plugs for problems. Belts must be tight and free of cracks and glazing.
€ Engine oil: Change oil between 3,000 and 7,500 miles depending on the manufacturer's recommendations and driving conditions. Transmission fluid should also be checked.
€ Lights: Check headlights, side-marker lights, emergency flashers, parking lights, directional signals (front and rear), taillights and brake lights for proper operation.
€ Brake System: Brakes and brake fluids should be checked and properly adjusted to ensure equal braking.
€ Tires: Make sure tires are properly inflated and in good condition. Uneven wear indicates improper inflation or the need for wheel alignment. When tread depth decreases to three-sixteenths of an inch it's time to shop for new tires.
€ Heating and Cooling System: Check the radiator and hoses for leaks and cracks. Add a sufficient amount of antifreeze if low. If the coolant looks discolored or rusty, flush the radiator and refill it with the right mixture of coolant and water. Test the heater and defrost for proper operation.
€ Windshield Wipers and Washer: Wipers should be checked for proper functioning and streaks. Replace blades if over 6 months old. Fill your washer reservoir bottle with a nonfreezing washer solvent.
€ Winter Driving Kit: Tire chains, small bag of abrasive material (sand, salt or similar material), small snow shovel, snow brush, traction mats, flashlight, ice scraper, cloth or roll of paper towels, booster cables, blanket, hat, gloves, warm clothing, rain coat, first aid kit, food, water, tire gauge and warning devices (flares or triangles).
By taking time to regularly assess the condition of your vehicle, you improve the chances of avoiding a breakdown or safety situation down the road.