Preparing your car for the winter

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Driving in the winter means snow, sleet, and ice that can lead to slower traffic, hazardous road conditions, hot tempers and unforeseen dangers.

The National Safety Council has tips to make sure that you and your vehicle are prepared.

As you prepare your car for winter, start with a checkup that includes:

    • Checking the ignition, brakes, wiring, hoses and fan belts.
    • Changing and adjusting the spark plugs.
    • Checking the air, fuel and emission filters, and the PCV valve.
    • Inspecting the distributor.
    • Checking the battery.
    • Checking the tires for air, sidewall wear and tread depth.
    • Checking antifreeze level and the freeze line.

Your car should have a tune-up (check the owner's manual for the recommended interval) to ensure better gas mileage, quicker starts and faster response on pick-up and passing power.

The NSC recommends having these items in your car, should a problem arise.

    • A properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod-type jack
    • A shovel
    • Jumper cables
    • Tow and tire chains
    • A bag of salt or cat litter
    • Tool kit

Besides having items for your car, the NSC recommends having a "survival kit" to keep you safe should something happen to your car:

    • Working flashlight and extra batteries
    • Reflective triangles and brightly-colored cloth
    • Compass
    • First aid kit
    • Exterior windshield cleaner
    • Ice scraper and snow brush
    • Wooden stick matches in a waterproof container
    • Scissors and string/cord
    • Non-perishable, high-energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits, and hard candy

In addition, if you are driving long distances under cold, snowy, and icy conditions, you should also carry supplies to keep you warm, such as heavy woolen mittens, socks, a cap, and blankets.

If you do become stranded, the NSC offers this advice:

    • Do not leave your car unless you know exactly where you are, how far it is to possible help, and are certain you will improve your situation.
    • To attract attention, light two flares and place one at each end of the car a safe distance away. Hang a brightly colored cloth from your antenna.
    • If you are sure the car's exhaust pipe is not blocked, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour or so depending upon the amount of gas in the tank.
    • To protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia use the woolen items and blankets to keep warm.
    • Keep at least one window open slightly. Heavy snow and ice can seal a car shut.
    • Eat a hard candy to keep your mouth moist.