Winter car care tips - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Winter car care tips

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ESSEX, Vt. -

Shawn Mercy has been a mechanic at Essex Automotive for 13 years. "What I went to school for, what I've been doing for many years," he said.

He's got plenty of knowledge to draw upon when it comes to getting your car prepared for winter. "Services are getting extended, people are going for longer services 5,000 or 6,000, 7,000 miles, so they're not in the shop often," he said.

Translation -- It's more important than ever to take your car in for a winter inspection -- fluids, wipers, tires, brakes and batteries all should be checked out. "Because when your battery is cold, you go to start the car, it puts a load on your battery, so you wanna simulate what that might be like," Mercy said.

Most of us can top off our wiper fluid ourselves, but Mercy says never dilute it. Subfreezing temperatures will cause it to freeze. Mercy says it's also important to be certain those wipers are clean and leave the windshield streak-free. Antifreeze needs inspection too. Experts use a hydrometer to test for the freeze point. "Holding it relatively level will give you an indication of what your freeze point will be. This one is around minus 45," He said.

We can't forget tires too. "Tire pressure will drop when it gets colder, so having your tire pressure adjusted for the colder weather will be helpful," Mercy said.

Your vehicles recommended tire pressure is often located on a label inside the driver's door. Just be careful not to confuse it with the maximum allowable tire pressure -- that's one of the numbers printed on the tires themselves.

This is the time of year that many of us put on snow tires. "It's a good idea to get in ahead of time," Mercy said. While snow tires are very helpful in navigating through Vermont winters, some of us run all season tires. "If somebody does wish to have all season tires, driving in Vermont roads in winter, one that's less than half worn would be recommended."

Inside your vehicle, make sure you have your ice scraper, folding shovel, a jumper cable and a blanket. And if you travel in rural areas you might want to include a few additional items. "Extra changes of clothing, some non-perishable food, water -- in case you're stranded -- things of that nature -- maybe some flashlights and a map," said Jeff Goff with the National Weather Service.

Whether you enjoy winter or not, it's important to prepare your vehicle for it. Mechanics like Shawn Mercy may make it a little easier for you. "I enjoy diagnosing cars," Mercy said.

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