9 tips to help your car in cold temps

(WCPO) - When temperatures go down, the likelihood of car troubles goes up. Drivers need to know some of the ways to prevent car troubles before they see single digits on the thermometer.

Here are nine tips to help your car in cold weather, according to AAA:

1. Have your battery tested and replaced if needed. Have the battery and charging system tested by a trained technician. A fully charged battery in good condition is required to start an engine in cold weather.

2. Make sure antifreeze is at proper levels. Check the coolant level in the overflow tank when the engine is cold. If the level is low, add a 50/50 solution of coolant and water to maintain the necessary antifreeze capability, according to AAA. Test the antifreeze protection level annually with an inexpensive tester available at any auto parts store.

3. See that you have working windshield wipers and washer fluid. Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution that has antifreeze components to prevent it from freezing. With the wipers blades, they should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace any blade that leaves streaks or misses spots. In areas with snow, consider installing winter wiper blades that wrap the blade frame in a rubber boot to reduce ice and snow buildup that can prevent good contact between the blade and the glass.

4. Check that tire pressure is at proper level. Check tire inflation pressure on all four tires and the spare more frequently in fall and winter. As the average temperature drops, so will tire pressures. Also, replace any tire that has less than 3/32-inches of tread. Uneven tire wear can indicate alignment, wheel balance or suspension problems that must be addressed to prevent further tire damage.

5. Check belts and hoses. Inspect the underside of accessory drive belts for cracks or fraying. Many newer multi-rib "serpentine" belts are made of materials that do not show obvious signs of wear; replace these belts at 60,000-mile intervals. Inspect cooling system hoses for leaks, cracks or loose clamps. Also, squeeze the hoses and replace any that are brittle or excessively spongy feeling.

6. Make sure you have a working heater/defroster. Make sure your vehicle's heater/defroster is checked by a certified technician.

7. Continue to have oil and filter changes. Motorists typically believe they should change their car's oil every 3,000 miles, but most late-model vehicles can go 5,000-7,000 miles between changes. Check your owner's manual to see what is best for your vehicle.

8. Warm up your vehicle's engine. When engine is cold, drive easy to allow engine to warm up.

9. Create an emergency road side kit including items like blankets, flashlight, first-aid kit, water, and  jumper cables. The emergency road side kit should include a mobile phone with rescue apps and important numbers, water, first-aid kit, non-perishable snacks for both humans and pets, bag of abrasive material, snow shovel, blankets, extra clothes, flashlight with batteries, ice scraper, paper towels, jumper cables, warning devices and a basic toolkit.

For more information from AAA, go to http://newsroom.aaa.com/2012/10/as-roadside-assistance-calls-exceed-18-million-for-2012-aaa-urges-motorists-to-get-vehicle-checkup/.

For additional winter driving tips, go to http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/roadway-safety/winter-driving-tips/.

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