Consumer Assistance
Winter Driving Tips



tips for winter   

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:

·          Tire Chains – 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.

·          Winter Safety Kit – 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:

bullet Battery jumper cables
bullet Large flashlight and extra batteries
bullet First aid supplies
bullet Extra blanket and some warm clothing
bullet Battery-powered radio with spare batteries
bullet Basic tool kit (screwdriver, pliers, adjustable wrench)
bullet Bottled water and non-perishable food
bullet Highway safety flares in good condition
bullet Windshield ice scraper
bullet Replacement electrical fuses (check owner’s manual for specifics)


bullet Cooling System – 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 freeze protection.


bullet Wiper Blades – 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 the windshield.


bullet Battery and Battery Cables – Have your battery tested, especially if it’s near the end of its warranty. Inspect the battery cables for corrosion, cracks and dirt.


bullet Brake Pads and Linings – 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.


bullet Tires – 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.


bullet Lights – Properly functioning lights are crucial for driving in winter fog. Test them to make sure they work, especially brake lights and turn signals.


bullet Heater and Defroster – You may want to have a professional inspect the entire heating system, as well as the belts and hoses.


bullet 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.


bullet Check Engine Light – 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 on.


bullet Gas – Try to keep your tank at least half-full, particularly when driving at night, in bad weather or long distances.


bullet Cell Phone – 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.                     

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