* Check fluid levels, including engine oil and coolant, brake, transmission, windshield washer and power steering fluids, and fill if necessary. Don't forget to check the gas. Also, coolant should be flushed and refilled as recommended by your vehicle manufacturer.
* Check the condition of each windshield wiper and replace if needed. Windshield wipers are a necessity in snowy and wet conditions.
* Tires can lose 1 pound per square inch of air pressure for each 10-degree drop in temperature. Check your inflation pressure more frequently during the cold months. Under-inflation will lessen the tire's gripping action because the tread will not meet the road surface as it is designed to do.
* In icy conditions, avoid sudden movements. Accelerate gently, turn gradually, and ease on the brakes when stopping. If you start skidding and your car has an anti-lock braking system, apply steady pressure to the brakes and turn in the direction of the skid. Don't pump the brakes.
* If you're approaching a turn while in motion, brake earlier than normal, remove your foot from the brake at the beginning of the turn and steer into the curve. This will provide the most tire grip to avoid skidding or sliding sideways.
Trisha Hessinger, an automotive education specialist and former race car driver, is a national spokeswoman for Firestone Complete Auto Care's Car Care Academy program.