• Winterizing your vehicle is a wise idea. An investment of an hour or two to have your vehicle checked is all it takes to have peace of mind and help avoid the cost and hassle of a breakdown during severe weather.

    The last thing any driver needs is a vehicle that breaks down in cold, harsh winter weather. A vehicle check before the temperatures drop is a sensible way to avoid the inconvenience of being stranded out in the cold and with the unexpected expense of emergency repairs.

    I recommend the following steps for winterizing your vehicle:

    1. Battery -- Have the battery and charging system checked for optimum performance. Cold weather is hard on batteries

    2. Antifreeze -- Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. As a general rule of thumb, this should be done every two years

    3. Engine oil -- Be diligent about changing the oil and filter at recommended intervals. Dirty oil can spell trouble in winter. Consider changing to "winter weight" oil if you live in a cold climate. Have your technician check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time

    4. Stay warm -- Make sure heaters, defrosters and wipers work properly

    5. Winter wiper blades - use cold weather washer fluid. As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months

    6. Tires -- Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly

    7. Problems -- If you're due for a tune-up, have it done before winter sets in. Winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling

    8. Brakes -- Have the brakes checked. The braking system is the vehicle's most important safety item

    9. Exhaust -- Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed

    10. All the lights -- Check to see that exterior and interior lights work and headlights are properly aimed

    11. Gasoline -- Motorists should also keep the gas tank at least half full at all times to decrease the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing

    12. Carry the proper gear --Emergency kit with an ice scraper and snowbrush, tire inflation products, jumper cables, flashlight, LED flares, blanket, extra clothes, bottled water, dry food snacks and needed medication

    If you don't have an owners manual and you need to know what needs to be done to your car and why is wear out and needs repair. The Car Care Council offers the "Be Car Care Aware" information guide for FREE. For a copy of the council's guide or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.

    Lauren Fix, the admired automotive advice provider who is relied upon by so many news sources and the public alike, is honored to announce that she is the recipient of an Automotive Communications Award from The Car Care Council Women's Board and the Automotive Communication Council. (2011)