Tips to protect your car during freezing temperatures

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As arctic air moves in to the Sooner State, AAA Oklahoma is encouraging drivers to take some time and prepare their vehicles for the winter temperatures.

“In Oklahoma, we see time and again that even a little snow can cause major headaches on our roadways when motorists aren’t prepared and don’t adjust their driving behaviors for conditions,” says Leslie Gamble, spokesperson for AAA Oklahoma. “It is critical that vehicles are winter ready and drivers are fully alert as well.”

Winter Car Prep:

  • Battery: Clean any corrosion from battery posts and cable connections and wash all surfaces with battery terminal cleaner or a solution of baking soda and water. Have the battery checked by a professional to ensure it is strong enough to face cold weather. Most batteries last 3 to 5 years, but give little warning prior to failure. AAA Car Care, Insurance and Travel Centers in Edmond and Northwest Oklahoma City offer free battery checks.
  • Tires: Examine tires for tread depth, uneven wearing, and cupping. Check tire pressures once a month when tires are cold, before driving for any distance.
  • Engine: Have any engine drivability problems corrected at a good repair shop. Symptoms like hard starts, rough idling, stalling or diminished power could signal a problem that would be exacerbated by cold weather. Engine hoses and belts should be inspected for wear or cracking.
  • Fluids: Important system fluids such as engine coolant/antifreeze, transmission and brake fluid should be checked and changed at recommended intervals.
  • Exhaust: Have your mechanic check the exhaust system for leaks and look for any holes in the trunk and floorboards.
  • Brakes: Inspect brakes as recommended in your owner’s manual, or sooner if you notice pulsations, pulling, noises while braking or longer stopping distance. Correct minor brake problems promptly.
  • Wipers: Replace worn windshield-wiper blades. Purchase one-piece beam-type or rubber-clad “winter” blades to fight snow and ice build-up. Use cold-weather windshield washer solvent and carry an ice-scraper.
  • Lights: Inspect all lights and bulbs and replace burned-out bulbs. Clean road grime or clouding from all lenses.

Vehicle owners should read the maintenance requirements set by the car manufacturer in the owner’s manual. There is no longer a “standard” maintenance schedule for vehicle services – including brake fluid. Each automaker has different requirements, making the owner’s manual the most accurate resource. In-vehicle maintenance reminders provide good guidance because they account for real-time problems and how you actually drive. However, many reminder systems do not specifically cover maintenance operations that need to be performed on a time or mileage basis – such as brake fluid and coolant flushes or timing-belt replacement.

Also, now is also the time to assemble an emergency kit equipped for winter weather to carry in your vehicle. This kit is especially important if you’ll be driving any distance and winter weather is forecast. The kit should include:

  • Mobile phone pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers including family and emergency services, and car charger
  • Drinking water
  • First-aid kit
  • Non-perishable snacks for both human and pet passengers
  • Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats
  • Snow shovel
  • Blankets
  • Extra warm clothing (coat, gloves, hats, scarves)
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Window washer solvent
  • Ice scraper with brush
  • Cloth or roll of paper towels
  • Jumper cables
  • Warning devices (flares or triangles)
  • Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench).

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