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Updated: 3/28/2003 12:53 pm Published: 3/28/2003 12:53 pm

There are a few things you should do before the cold winter sets in. Make sure your car's battery is fully charged and that the battery cable clamps are not cracked or corroded. Drain and flush the coolant from your engine and add fresh antifreeze and water. Make sure belts and hoses are tight and not worn. Now is a good time to get your car tuned. A good tune-up will put your car in its best condition for the most trying months of the year. Change your oil and oil filter. And be sure to use a winter-grade, thinner-weight oil. Old, thick, or dirty oil could make it difficult to start your car on a cold morning. Be sure the tires have plenty of tread, the wheels are aligned properly, and the brakes stop the car smoothly. Also make certain that your lights are functional, and the windshield wipers are in good shape. Check to see if you have a good spare tire and a working jack in the car. Other items you might need for the cold winter months are a good pair of gloves, a windshield scraper, a flashlight, and road flares. Keep a jacket and comfy shoes in your trunk in case you get stranded. And don't forget to check your heater and defroster. When winter gets here, and you're stuck in traffic, you'll be glad you were smart enough to winterize your car.

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