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Winter weather is just around the bend or already here for some northerners. The cold can be biting and unforgiving, so we take precautions to protect ourselves. In the same way that we prepare ourselves before braving the chills, preparing our automobiles is a must. Doing so can prevent unwanted dangers associated with cold temperatures. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 17% of car crashes happen during the winter season. Below are five ways to prepare your car for winter.

Check Your Engine’s Antifreeze

During the winter months, your engine can become especially worn and can potentially freeze up. The freezing can cause engine damage and even kill your engine.

Antifreeze is an inexpensive preventative measure to ensure that your engine won’t get too cold and freeze. You can buy an antifreeze checking kit at any automotive supply store. Representatives are usually willing to check your antifreeze levels for you as well.

Keep An Emergency Kit In Your Car

In the case of an accident or car malfunction, a safety kit is beneficial to help you withstand the cold. The kit should contain emergency items such as a charged phone, batteries, a radio, an ice scraper, healthy snacks, a flashlight, flares, warm clothes, and a first-aid kit.

Switch To Winter Windshield Wiper Fluid

A lot of drivers are unaware of this inexpensive gem. Winter wiper fluid does not freeze, thus making it easier for you to see while driving in precipitation. It can also loosen snow and ice from your windshield.

Use A Low Viscosity Motor Oil

Consider using motor oil that is more equipped for winter during your next oil change. Cold weather calls for thinner oil. The lower the number, the better. For instance, if you usually use 10W-30 oil, use 5W-30 during the winter.

Check Tire Tread And Pressure

Tires that are in good shape and are properly inflated are crucial to staying safe on the road. Invest in a tire pressure gauge (for a dollar or less) to make sure your tires are neither under inflated nor over-inflated. Numerous gas stations have self-service pumps. You can also visit an automobile service station and have a mechanic do it for you.

You’ll also need to make sure your tires are in good shape. Check the tread by performing what is called a “Lincoln Test” by inserting a penny into the tread. If Lincoln’s whole head is visible, it’s time to consider replacing your tires.

Taking just a few precautions can go a long way in keeping you, your family and your car safe during the winter. Though it may be somewhat of a hassle to prepare, it will be well worth it when those winter days are here.