Prepare your vehicle for winter: 5 things you can do

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As the temperatures drop, we tend to focus on the joys of the season, like cozy sweaters and pumpkin spice, not on vehicle maintenance. During fall and winter, it's important to be just as aware of your vehicle's service lights as you are of the changing road conditions. As you layer on the scarves and gloves remember to give your car the attention it needs to keep you safe on the road all season long.

Check your brakes: In fall and winter, the roads can be wet and icy. It's important that your breaks are safe and reliable. Get to the shop immediately if the brake light in your vehicle comes on. Pay attention to screeching sounds, a pulsating brake pedal, or a tugging feeling on either side of the vehicle when you apply the brakes. Any of these things could indicate brake problems.

Tire pressure and traction: Wet leaves and ice hinder your tires traction, so make sure to check the tread on your tires before making long drives during the fall and winter. It's a good idea to check your tire pressure monthly, but especially when the weather changes. The quick drop in temperature can cause your tires to get low on air. Unevenly inflated tires can have reduced traction, which is especially dangerous when the roads are slippery. Don't find yourself in a situation where you can't stop, turn, or handle the vehicle properly. Use a tire pressure gauge and adjust the pressure according to your vehicle's requirements in the owner's manual.

Windshield maintenance: If you're expecting precipitation, make sure your windshield wipers are working properly and you have plenty of washer fluid. If your wipers don't cover the entire windshield, if they get stuck in certain places, or if they don't clean all the water off, you should replace them as soon as possible.

As the temperature drops, ice, snow, and overnight frost can cover your windshield. Be sure to keep an ice scraper in your vehicle so that you have it ready before your morning drive and when you return to your car after a day of work or errands.

Clear your driveway of any leaves, debris, or snow: It might seem obvious to clear any obstacles out of the way of your vehicle, but it's important to stay ahead of the curve as much as possible. Storms can build upon each other, so putting off your household chores can leave you with a massive headache in the morning before you leave for work.

Check your battery: Cold weather can cause problems with a car's batteries. Get your battery checked before winter or long drives. Remember to turn off lights inside your vehicle, too. Just in case of an emergency, keep jumper cables and blankets inside your car so that you are prepared to wait if you need roadside assistance.

Remember, part of preparing for colder months means replenishing your vehicle with what it needs. Putting off maintenance or repairs to your vehicle puts you and others in unnecessary risk. As the seasons change, make sure you are road-ready so you always arrive at your destination on time.

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