Winter Car Care: 'Tis the Season to Prepare Your Car for Cold Weather

Article excerpt

'Tis the season to prepare your car for cold weather

WHILE you're busy decking the halls, donning gay apparel and singing yuletide carols, remember to take some time to create an automotive checklist to ensure that you and your family celebrate a safe holiday despite harsh weather and hazardous road conditions.

* TAKE CARE OF YOUR CAR'S HEART

As the mercury drops, so does your car's battery power. During the winter, a reliable battery is a necessity. Have a qualified technician perform a load test, which determines if your battery is strong enough to start in cold weather.

Don't forget to inspect the battery for cracks and defects. Tighten any loose clamps and cable connections, and replace anything damaged. Avoid acid and gunk build-up by scrubbing the battery terminals with a toothbrush and a pasty mixture of baking soda and water. And always wear safety goggles when working with a battery.

* KEEP PLENTY OF FLUIDS IN YOUR CAR

Like people, ears can suffer from dehydration. Maintain the health of your auto by checking and replacing crucial operating fluids.

Engine--Check the oil level and change the oil and filter every 3,000 miles or every three months, whichever comes first. Also replace e the air filter every 7,500 miles. Inspect the fuel filter for leaks and clogs and have the ignition system checked. Get a tune-up if necessary.

Gas Tank--Keep it as full as possible to prevent the gas line from freezing.

Radiator--If the fluid level is low, fill the radiator with a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water, and test to make sure the fluid can withstand extremely cold temperatures (minus-30 degrees Fahrenheit). Flush the cooling system every other year.

Transmission--Add fluid and change the filter if necessary.

Brakes--Check the fluid levels and pay attention to brake performance. If your brakes squeal, if your vehicle pulls to one side when you press the pedal, or if the pedal feels soft when pumped, have your brakes inspected.

Windshield Wipers--Add no-freeze wiper fluid to the reservoir and replace worn or old wiper blades.

* DON'T NEGLECT YOUR CAR'S BODY

Road salt and slush can prove lethal to your car's finish. Wash and wax your auto as much as possible to prevent rust and paint damage, and remember to periodically wash underneath your car to remove trapped dirt and salt. …