Get your car ready for lower temps

Mechanic offers advice one how to prepare vehicles for winter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Whether you're staying in Florida all winter long or plan to travel into colder states this season, you need to get your car in shape for the lower temperatures.

Aaron's Car Care in Jacksonville has some advice for what you should do now before your car suffers from the colder weather.

"Nobody likes the cold weather, including your car," mechanic Aaron Nelson said. "It's a good idea to bundle it up, and how do you bundle it up? It's a good idea to check a couple of things."

First thing on the list: Check your antifreeze.

"Most cars on the average, depending on the size of the car, a couple of gallons of antifreeze for the winter is sufficient," Nelson said. "But if you're not sure, you can get a tester."

Nelson said you can pick up a tester for just a few bucks at Walmart to make sure you're set. He also said if you don't have enough antifreeze, you won't get the heat you'll need in your car.

Also, a simple oil change can help a lot. Oil tends to thicken as it gets colder, and if it's too thick, it won't do the best job of keeping your engine lubricated.

When's the last time you replaced your windshield wiper blades? They usually work effectively for about one year, so be sure to invest in some new ones if you're due. Bad wipers won't help you see when you have ice on the windshield.

Here's another important step to take: Fill up your windshield washer reservoir with windshield washer fluid. Plain water won't do the trick at this time of year because it freezes. Also, check to see that your heater and defroster are working properly so you can keep the windshield nice and clear.

The air pressure in your tires has likely dropped already as the weather has gotten colder, so it's important to see where things stand now. Some cars have a tire pressure light indicating to add more air.

A must for your car: an ice scraper. Some have a brush on one side for when the ice is really bad.

"It may be starting all well and good if you park the car outside or park it in your garage or whatever. You come out the next morning and you hit it and you get that (sound). That's done went to sleep, that battery is done," Nelson said.

A simple battery test can be performed by turning on your vehicle's headlights before starting the engine. If you notice the lights get brighter once the engine is running, a more thorough battery test should be undertaken.

"That first cold snap when it dips down below freezing, we will probably have eight or 10 people trying to call to get them to work," Nelson said.

In Florida, the average battery lasts about three years.

Another thing to always keep in your car: jumper cables. You don't want to be stranded in the cold if your battery goes kaput.

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