• Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. As a general rule of thumb, this should be done every two years.
• Make sure heaters, defrosters and wipers work properly. Consider winter wiper blades and use cold weather washer fluid. As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months.
• Have the battery and charging system checked for optimum performance. Cold weather is hard on batteries.
• Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure. If snow and ice are a problem, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly.
• Be diligent about changing the oil and filter every 3,000 miles. Dirty oil can spell trouble in winter. Consider changing to a "winter weight" oil. Have your technician check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time.
• If you're due for a tune-up, have it done soon. Winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling.
• Have the brakes checked. The braking system is the vehicle's most important safety item.
• Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.
• Check to see that exterior and interior lights work and that headlights are properly aimed.
As a final note, it's important to remember that cars can be winterized after cold weather hits. What matters is that a car is made safe, not the time of year the work is done.
For more information, visit www.carcare.org.