Getting your vehicle ready for the winter is, as you might agree, one of the more important things you can do as far as weather preparedness goes here in the Berkshires. We have some of the harshest winters in the country. To that I end, I usually like to reach out to AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul for my CITY TALK program to talk about the latest tips on prepping our cars for those frigid months. We, unfortunately, did not get to talk this year, but you may have heard my previous chats with him... and you just might again!

You may have noticed the recent cold snap. It's an excellent reminder for motorists to make sure their vehicles are prepared for the wintry weather ahead for the next several months.

AAA Northeast urges motorists to make sure their vehicle is ready to start and run during a bout of cold weather...

The average vehicle on the road today is more than 12 years old and even dependable cars might not be ready for the worst that winter has in store for us... Preparing now before your vehicle breaks down can save you time, money, and aggravation when the mercury settles into the teens and single digits. ~ Mary Maguire, AAA Northeast Director of Public and Legislative Affairs

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Here are some tips sent to us directly from AAA Northeast to help you deal with adverse cold weather conditions :

Test Your Battery: Have the battery and charging system tested if your vehicle's battery is more than three years old. Even a good battery can lose up to 50 percent of its capacity when the temperatures drop to zero.

Check the coolant: Check the coolant level in the overflow tank when the engine is cold. If the level is low, add a 50/50 solution of coolant and water to maintain the necessary antifreeze capability. A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water will protect your car’s engine to -34 degrees.

Ignition check: Today we don’t think about tune-ups like we once did with older cars,  but ignition systems can fail. Damaged ignition wires, a cracked distributor cap, or worn spark plugs can make starting difficult. If the check engine light is flashing this indicates an engine misfire that could be a result of a malfunctioning ignition system.

Check the Oil: This is a year-round recommendation, but certainly worth taking care of with the rest of your winter prep. Always have your oil changed per manufacturer recommendations. You should have all of your vehicle’s vital fluids checked at the same time.

Put on the correct Tires: In areas with heavy winter weather, installing winter tires on all four wheels will provide the best traction. Winter tires are also formulated to work better in very cold weather conditions due to the stickier rubber compounds. All-season tires work well in light-to-moderate snow conditions provided they have adequate tread depth.

Fill the Washer fluid: Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution that has antifreeze components. Some window washer solution is rated to just 20 degrees, but in cold weather, this solution can freeze and damage the washer system. Look for washer fluid that protects well below freezing temperatures.

Are your wipers in good shape?: Wiper blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace any blade that leaves streaks or misses spots. Consider installing all-weather wiper blades that have a one-piece plastic beam frame or winter blades that wrap the metal frame in a rubber boot.

Engine Warm-up myth: Extensive engine warm-ups are not necessary even in very cold weather. A more fuel-efficient technique is to start the car, find your favorite radio station and buckle up.  Then drive reasonably until the engine comes up to operating temperature.

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