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Feature

A car tire partly in snow.

When it comes to tires, proper inflation and tread depth mean better traction when winter strikes.

Winter car care

From eNews, November 2005

As maintenance manager for the University of Minnesota Fleet Services, Tony Bittner oversees the upkeep of 500 University vehicles on the Twin Cities campus. (As a whole, Fleet Services works with approximately 850 vehicles and pieces equipment systemwide.) Here, Bittner offers his seven top tips for winter car care.

Brakes Many times the only thing between you and a crash is the brakes, so it is an extremely good idea to pay attention to their upkeep. Have your brakes checked by a qualified technician. You don't want to discover that your brakes are bad in the middle of a panic stop on a cold, slippery day.

Tires You have heard the phrase, "Your life is riding on your tires." It's absolutely true. Proper inflation and tread depth mean good traction. Remember, as the temperature drops, so will your tire pressure (every 7 degrees = 1 psi).

Battery Long, hot summer days are hard on a battery, so as winter approaches take your vehicle to a certified auto technician for a complete electrical system inspection. This is especially important for vehicles three or more years old.

Oil It's the lifeblood of your engine. Remember to change the oil in your vehicle every three months or 3,000 miles. Not only will you decrease engine wear, but new oil will make it easier for the engine to turn over when it's cold.

Coolant/antifreeze Check for adequate protection level before the first really cold day hits. Insufficient protection could cost you thousands of dollars in car repairs.

Wipers and washer solvent Inspect your wipers. Replace them if they don't clear your windshield. Top off your washer solvent container with a fluid offering winter protection. I recommend a washer solvent that can handle at least -35F temperatures.

Lights See and be seen. Inspect all of your lights: headlights (high and low beam), turn signals, back-up lights, parking lights, hazard lights, and brake lights.