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Winter's on the way, so prepare your car now

October 8, 2014

Now that we're smack dab in the middle of autumn, it's the perfect time for drivers to consider how they can prepare their vehicles for the harsh winter months on the horizon. After all, auto insurance isn't the only way for motorists to make sure they're protected on the road.

Follow the directions

Prepare your car for winter before it arrives.
Not every vehicle is the same, so before you start focusing on different ways to winterize your car or truck, take a peek at your owner's manual. It should provide you with plenty of information about how to keep your vehicle in tip-top condition.

Fill up on fluids

A hot cup of cocoa, coffee or tea can do your body good when it's cold outside. Now, it's time to do your vehicle the same favor.

When it comes to vehicle fluids, oil and anti-freeze should be your top concern.

In addition to getting your oil changed before winter hits, make sure the oil used has the right viscosity for the colder time of year. Oil is likely to thicken as it gets colder, so an oil that's already quite thick may not give your engine the lubrication it needs.

As far as anti-freeze goes, winter calls for a mixture that will help prevent freezing. Too much water and you may have to drain your cooling system and start over. A 50/50 mix is what you should be aiming for, according to the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence.

Windshield wipers also tend to get a workout during winter, so make sure your level of wiper solvent is sufficient. Also replace old blades while you're at it.

Don't forget your filters

The onset of winter is also the perfect time to replace filters in your vehicle.

Air, fuel, PCV—make sure any old filters are replaced with new ones. This will help your engine run more efficiently, burn less gasoline and save you money.

Think heat

Winter is one time of year when car heaters and defrosters get a major workout. With that in mind, fall is the ideal time to test your heating system and your defroster to make sure both are in working order.

Take care of tires

Wet and icy roads drastically increase the risk of accidents, so it's vital to ensure your tires are ready for winter. Tires with worn treads should be replaced, while others should be rotated. Additionally, it's a good idea to check tire pressure on a regular basis. Underinflated tires are dangerous in winter weather.

Finally, check on your spare. The last thing you want is to be stranded without an extra wheel when the weather outside is frightful.