Prepare your vehicle for winter weather

Whether it was the October snowstorm shocking the East coast, this week’s snowfall across parts of the Midwest, or the blizzard pounding Alaska full force — early winter weather is surprising people across the country. If these unexpected signs of winter hit your area today, would you be ready? Follow these tips to prepare your vehicle for whatever weather winter might bring.

In your vehicle:

• Check the tread on your tires and replace them if they are too worn. Good traction is key during winter driving. Also, check your tire pressure often — your tires start to lose pressure as temperatures drop.

• Make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition to handle ice and snow. Use windshield washer fluid that’s intended for cold temperatures.

• Check your antifreeze level and aim for a 50/50 mixture of distilled water and antifreeze.

• Change your oil. Clean engine oil helps protect your motor when you start it in the cold.

• Keep your gas tank at least half full.

• Always keep an ice scraper and shovel in your car, and prepare an emergency kit that includes warm gloves and a blanket.

• Get your car waxed to prevent corrosion from road salt, and wash it throughout winter to get rid of any salt buildup.

When winter weather hits:

• Plan your driving route ahead of time and tell someone your plan.

• Avoid quick stops, turns, or lane changes that could send you skidding across icy roads.

• Always drive with your lights on.

• Clear the snow or ice off your car each time you drive to ensure maximum visibility. Don’t forget to scrape off your lights, roof, and hood.

• Leave extra room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you to allow enough stopping time.