Be prepared for winter travel

With winter here, motorists should be prepared for travel in cold, snowy and icy conditions. AAA calls particular attention to the following points in its winter car care checklist items:

Battery and charging system – Have the battery and charging system tested by a trained technician. A fully charged battery in good condition is required to start an engine in cold weather. Auto repair shops can test and replace weak batteries.

Battery cables and terminals – Make sure the battery terminals and cable ends are free from corrosion and the connections are tight.

Tire type and tread – In areas with heavy winter weather, installing snow tires on all four wheels will provide the best winter traction. All-season tires work well in light-to-moderate snow conditions provided they have adequate tread depth. Replace any tire that has less than 3/32-inches of tread. Uneven tire wear can indicate alignment, wheel balance or suspension problems that must be addressed to prevent further tire damage.

Tire pressure – Check tire inflation pressure on all four tires and the spare more frequently in fall and winter. As the average temperature drops, so will tire pressures – typically by one PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The proper tire pressure levels can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker typically located on the driver’s side door jamb.

Coolant levels – Check the coolant level in the overflow tank when the engine is cold. If the level is low, add a 50/50 solution of coolant and water to maintain the necessary antifreeze capability. Test the antifreeze protection level annually with an inexpensive tester available at any auto parts store.

Emergency road kit – Carry an emergency kit equipped for winter weather. 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 (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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