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A Winterizing Checklist for Your Car

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by the Editors of MSN Autos April 2008

Getting your vehicle in shape for winter driving is not as extensive-or expensive-as you might think. Below are a number of tips to help get your car ready for those chilly months. Many of these preparations can be done yourself.

  • Battery. Have your vehicle's battery inspected by a technician using professional equipment to ensure it has sufficient power.
  • Tires. In areas where snow and ice are facts of winter, install snow tires.
  • Windshield Wipers. Replace old, worn blades, and if your climate is harsh, snow (rubber-clad) blades can be an effective alternative.
  • Engine. Get drivability problems such as harsh idling and stalling repaired. Replace old air and fuel filters as well as a faulty positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valve.
  • Anti-Freeze/Coolant. Make sure the condition, level and concentration (usually a 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water) of your vehicle's anti-freeze is appropriate.
  • Fuel. Maintain a gas level of at least half-full. A full gas tank helps keep moisture from forming and also adds a beneficial weight increase.
  • Oil. Change your car's oil according to the manufacturer's recommended intervals. In extreme conditions, switching to synthetic oil, which is less susceptible to thickening, can be advantageous.
  • Heater/Ventilation/Air Conditioning. In order to drive safely and comfortably, your vehicle's HVAC systems need to be in good working condition to keep the cabin dehumidified.
  • Lights. Inspect all lights, replace burned-out bulbs and clear any grime that has accumulated on the lenses.
  • Exhaust System. Your vehicle's exhaust system should be inspected for leaks. Take it to a professional who can place it on a lift and examine the system properly.

Other tips to consider:

  • Emergency Gear. In case of a stall or an accident, keep the following items in your vehicle: blanket, small shovel, flares, gloves, boots, tire chains, snacks and beverages, flashlight or candle w/ matches, and a CB radio or cellular phone.
  • Safety Belts. Make sure that all passengers are buckled up.
  • Head Restraints. Accidents are an unfortunate yet common result of winter driving-especially rear-end collisions. Be sure to adjust head restraints to help prevent and reduce neck injuries.
  • Planning Ahead. Before you get in your car and start driving, think about the safest route to your destination. Try to avoid bridges, hills and high-congestion areas.
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
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A Winterizing Checklist for Your Car - Autotrader