Winter car care tips

CREATED Dec. 6, 2013

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The bitter blast will aim its frigid head at your cars, too.

The American Automotive Association (AAA) is warning drivers that the winter weather will stress and strain cars, and possibly turn minor problems into major repairs.

Follow the checklist below to ensure a safe (and heated) drive.

*Battery - make sure terminals are tight and clean. If lights seem dim or the car starts sluggish, have the electrical system and/or battery checked by a technician. Batteries need to be replaced every five years.

*Radiator - Check coolant strength with a hydrometer. Recommended protection is -36 degrees

*Belts, hoses - Check belts for cracks or fraying. Check hoses for leaks, bulges or cracks. Make sure clamps are secure.

*Windshield wipers/washer - Make sure reservoir is filled with water solvent. Replace wiper blades as needed.

*Oil, fluids - Check engine oil, brake, transmission and power steering fluid level. Follow directions in owner's manual.

*Air filter - Hold air filter up to light. If can't see through it, replace it.

*Tires - Inspect the treads and make sure they're deep. Check pressure with a gauge when tires are cold. Inflate to vehicle manufacturer's recommended pressure.

*Lights, signals - Activate to make sure they all work.

Auto mechanics we spoke with also encourage drivers to turn on their car and wait for it to warm up before putting the car in gear