|Car owners: time to get your cars ready for the salt and snow of another winter.|
Those who live in very snowy areas or plan on traveling to them during the next few months should seriously consider putting snow tires on their vehicles. "
The correct tire pressure shouldn't be the only thing you check in your owner's manual as the season approaches. Some cars, particularly older models, require a lower-viscosity oil in the winter to avoid excessive thickening in cold temperatures, Reed says. Nunez adds that some cars may require a different antifreeze -- a mixture that keeps engine coolants from freezing -- as the temperature lowers. He advises all consumers to check to make sure there is enough antifreeze in the vehicle. "When waters freezes, it expands," Reed says, and this can do serious damage to your entire engine. 3. Check to see if any repairs are in order.
"Breaking down in the winter is a lot worse because the conditions are more extreme and visibility can be a real issue," Reed says. As such, he advises drivers to open up the hood of the vehicle to check that all belts and hoses are in working order. Those with older vehicles should even consider taking their car to a local mechanic to make sure nothing is in dire need of repair. Another part that warrants close inspection is your battery, which Reed says should be replaced every four to five years anyway. "In very cold weather, batteries lose some of their oomph in terms of starting power," Nunez explains. Consumers should also check and replace any faulty windshield wipers. Reed says you can tell if a wiper needs to be replaced by releasing some wiper fluid. If the wipers leave streaks, they should be replaced. A pair of new windshield wipers costs around $20, Reed says. (Check the wiper on the back window as well.) 4. Put together an emergency kit.
You should have an emergency kit in your car at all times, but if it's been a while since you've rifled through it, double-check that all the essentials are at hand. This includes, at a minimum, according to all experts:
- A working flashlight
- Jumper cables, preferably with a backup battery attached so you can restart your car yourself
- Tire changing equipment
- First-aid kit
In addition to your emergency kit, drivers should make sure to have some other items on hand. This includes an ice scraper, a small shovel for digging yourself out of ditches, lock de-icers or even some sand or kitty litter. "This gives your car weight," Schaffels says. "You can also put it on the ground to get more traction if you're stuck in ice or snow." These items can be kept in the car, but keep backups in your garage or even at the office. "If your locks freeze, these items might be hard to get at," Nunez says. "You want to be able to clean your car off quickly and not be stranded." >To submit a news tip, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow TheStreet.com on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.