Fall On the Road

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Winter prep checklist

Fall is a time to prepare homes, vehicles and even our psyches for the arrival of winter. To get your car cold-weather ready, check and repair these items now.

• Tire pressure can drop in cold weather. When tires are underinflated, you lose fuel efficiency, so monitor and maintain tire pressure throughout the winter.

• Those who live in particularly cold climates should switch from all-season to winter tires. Much as you wear winter boots to provide more traction and protection than sneakers, so should you equip your vehicle with tires that will stand up to winter terrain.

• Check on the status of your battery and its starting power. Cold weather can put more strain on a car battery. A battery that is already weak may not turn over when you need it most.

• Replace worn wiper blades and upgrade to a windshield fluid that is rated for subzero temperatures. Each of these items will improve visibility when winter precipitation is making its presence felt.

• Schedule an oil change at the beginning of winter. Dirty oil can hinder cold-weather starts and, if coupled with low coolant levels, can make it difficult for the engine to turn over.

• Keep jumper cables, a battery booster pack and warning cones in your vehicle. These can come to the rescue if your battery dies and you're stranded on the side of the road.

• While you're stocking the trunk or cargo bed, include a shovel, sand or cat litter, a flashlight, an ice scraper, water, and a blanket. These are good emergency items to have in the event your car breaks down in the winter. You can dig your tires out of a snow drift with the shovel and apply litter to increase traction. The blanket will come in handy if you have to sit in a cold car for a while awaiting roadside service.

• Consider taking a winter driving course. Icy, snowy conditions completely change the defensive tactics needed to navigate the roads. A prepared driver is one who is more likely to avoid accidents and make it home safely.