AUTO W RLD Prepare vehicles for harsh weather

little cost.

Replace existing wiper blades at the beginning of each winter so driver visibility is not compromised.

Wipers Visibility is key in hazardous weather conditions, and keeping the windshield clean is a priority. This means ensuring there is enough windshield wiper fluid in the car and that it is a product that will not freeze. Wiper blades can freeze and crack in the winter. Older blades may be more susceptible to damage. It’s a worthy investment to replace existing wiper blades at the start of each win- ter. When vehicles are parked, pull the wipers off of the windshield to safeguard them from sticking and cracking. Cold weather requires drivers to amp up their vehicle maintenance routines. Consult with a mechanic or automotive retailer for more ideas and products that can help your vehicles operate safely and efficiently this winter.

As the seasons change, motorists must take steps to safeguard their vehicles, es- pecially when the season changes from fall to winter. Each winter, many vehicles are subjected to sub-zero temperatures, snowfall and icy roads, and such condi- tions can take their toll on vehicles over time. Taking steps to prepare vehicles for winter weather is a vital step that can make cars and trucks safer for drivers and their passengers. Battery Old batteries should be replaced be- fore winter begins. Without a strong, prop- erly functioning battery, engines cannot turn over. Most batteries last between three and five years. However, extreme cold can com- promise batteries, especially those that have been around awhile. Batteries are made up of acid and water, and cold temperatures can freeze the water, thereby affecting battery per- formance. According to AAA’s Automotive Research Center, at 32 F, the average battery loses 35 percent of its strength. Newer batteries can be protected by starting the vehicle each day to warm up and recharge the battery. Let the car run for at least 10 minutes if you cannot take an ex- tended drive. Exterior maintenance Keeping a car waxed and sealed can help maintain a durable exterior finish. This in- cludes not only the paint, but the rubber and vinyl parts of the car’s exterior. Winter is a good time to switch to a heavy-duty synthetic wax that can shield against water and road salts. High-quality sealants can be used on bumpers, trim and rubber door seals as added protection. Speak with an automotive retailer or even the car dealership if you are unsure which products will make your car’s parts most durable for winter weather. Do not stop washing your car just be- cause the weather is cold. Slushy, wet roads and snow-melting salts can speed up the for- mation of rust or other decay on the under- carriage of the vehicle. These materials will need to be periodically cleaned off. Flush the underside of the vehicle whenever possible, taking advantage of any dry, slightly warmer days. Tire pressure According to the automotive retailer Pep Boys, vehicle tires lose a pound of air pres- sure for every 10-degree drop in temperature.

Many modern cars will alert to changes in air pressure, and drivers should be diligent in maintaining the proper tire pressure. Fuel

economy as well as handling ability can de- cline when tires are not inflated properly. Tires can be refilled at many gas stations for

How to safely navigate wet roads

Fall is a great time of year to hit the open road, as fall foliage is colorful and provides a wonderful backdrop for weekend getaways, while the mild temperatures of fall make this an ideal time to enjoy the great outdoors. Though au-

in leaves. Such conditions require drivers to focus their undivided attention on the road ahead of them. When drivers sud- denly encounter slick roads, easing off the accelerator rather than quickly applying the brakes can be the safest response, but such

uncontrollably on wet surfaces as the tires rise up on the water covering the roads. AAA notes that tires on vehicles driving as slow as 35 miles per hour can still lose some contact with the road, so drivers should maintain low speeds when driv-

ing on wet roads and reduce their speeds even further during heavy rains. • Resist the urge to brake quickly. When drivers feel themselves losing control, many re- spond by braking quickly. But hard braking and quick turns can increase the risk that a vehicle will hydroplane. And even if the vehicle does not hydroplane, motorists may have a hard time controlling it when slamming on the brakes. When en- countering wet roads, brake slowly and maintain low speeds until the roads dry off. • Leave ample room between vehicles. Because braking quickly on wet roadways can increase the risk of

tumn is often a mild time of year with regard to weather, fall foli- age enthusiasts can still encoun- ter adverse con- ditions on road trips. According to the automotive group AAA, wet pavement contrib- utes to nearly 1.2 million traffic ac- cidents each year. When combined with fall leaves, wet pavement poses an even greater threat to drivers and their passengers. Autumn and precipitation do not necessarily

Wet weather can quickly compromise drivers’ visibility, and it’s imperative that drivers know how to safely navi- gate wet roads.

go hand in hand, but drivers should still exercise cau- tion during the fall road trip season so they can better handle roadways that are wet and covered in fallen leaves. • Do not use cruise control. Because fall foliage can be so stunning to experi- ence, many drivers are tempted to use the cruise control feature on their automobiles so they can pay more attention to the array of colors at their disposal. But cruise con- trol should never be engaged when driving on wet roads or roads that may be covered

a response is impossible when cruise con- trol is engaged. • Drive slowly. Many fall road trippers are already driving slowly so they can fully enjoy the fall scenery. But it’s important that drivers slow down even more when encountering wet roadways, as driving slow can reduce the risk of a vehicle hydroplan- ing. When vehicles hydroplane, they slide

accident, it’s important that drivers leave ample room between their vehicles and the vehicles in front of them. Afford other drivers the space to brake slowly just like you hope the drivers behind you are doing. Avoid overcrowded roadways during espe- cially wet weather.

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