Tips to Keep
Your Car Running and Your Family Safe
Whether it’s a weekend ski trip, a family
get-together or last-minute shopping, millions of Californians
will hit the road this winter. So, it’s important for consumers to
winterize their vehicles ahead of time to keep their cars running
and their families safe.
Winter Maintenance and Safety Tips
A good first step is to check your owner's manual
and make sure the vehicle is up to date on recommended
maintenance. Also, go through the following checklist and inspect
your vehicle thoroughly. Most of these tasks are easy to do
yourself, but schedule an appointment with an automotive
technician if you need assistance:
– Weather and road conditions can change suddenly if you are
traveling in the mountains or the foothills. Always keep chains
handy and learn how to install them.
– Whether you’re heading for the mountains or planning a long road
trip, it’s a good idea to store a few items in an old duffel bag
or backpack in the trunk of your car in case of emergency:
Replacement electrical fuses (check owner’s manual for
– Flush and refill the radiator according to the manufacturer's
specifications. This service should include replacing the
pressure cap and adding anti-freeze if necessary. A quality
repair shop has a tool that can check your car’s
antifreeze/coolant to make sure that it will provide adequate
– Replace dry and cracked wiper blades and top off the wiper
fluid. (Do not use water!) Check them before the first storm of
the season by turning them on and making sure they evenly wipe
– Have your battery tested, especially if it’s near the end of
its warranty. Inspect the battery cables for corrosion, cracks
– Have your brakes checked by a licensed adjuster. Visit the
Bureau of Automotive Repair Web site at
www.autorepair.ca.gov to find a licensed brake
station in your area.
– Regularly check the air pressure in your tires (including the
spare) and inspect them for signs of excessive wear. Uneven or
excessive tread wear is an indication that it may be time for
rotation or replacement.
– Properly functioning lights are crucial for driving in winter
fog. Test them to make sure they work, especially brake lights
and turn signals.
– You may want to have a professional inspect the entire heating
system, as well as the belts and hoses.
– Inspect the hoses and belts for cracks, soft spots or bulges.
If you find a problem, have the hose or belt replaced.
– Often ignored, your car’s "Check Engine" or "Malfunction
Indicator" light is the first sign of a problem. Have your car
checked by a qualified technician if the check engine light is
– Try to keep your tank at least half-full, particularly when
driving at night, in bad weather or long distances.
– If you carry a cell phone for emergencies, make sure the
battery is fully charged.
By taking these simple precautions,
your car should be ready– for a long drive in the mountains or a
short trip to the grocery store – this winter.