Winter checkup: Making sure your vehicle is prepped for colder weather

WASHINGTON — The first taste of winter is coming this weekend, with another shot of even colder air expected to reach the D.C. region by the middle of next week. So, is your vehicle ready for the elements?

If you park outside, you may have noticed your dashboard sensors indicating low tire pressure.

“In the colder weather, especially in the morning time, your tire pressure tends to go down,” said Dwayne Redd, spokesperson for State Farm. Proper inflation and tire tread is imperative for maintaining control of your vehicle, whether the roads are dry, wet or white.

The first few nights of subfreezing temperatures can test a weak battery.

“The most important thing is to check your battery strength,” Redd said, adding that while drivers are under the hood, they should “check all their hoses, fan belts, spark plugs, as well as their antifreeze and windshield washer fluid.”

When a rush-hour snowfall jammed thousands of drivers on Jan. 20, 2016, many were stuck on the wayside or in traffic jams deep into the night. For such ordeals, a winter weather survival kit could become a lifesaver.

The American Red Cross recommends storing the following items in your vehicle during the winter months:

  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Cellphone car charger
  • Blanket and/or emergency Mylar blanket
  • Fleece hat, gloves, scarf
  • Flares
  • Folding shovel
  • Sand or cat litter
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • First-aid kit
  • Small battery-operated radio
  • Emergency contact card with names and phone numbers
  • Extra prescription medications
  • Bottled water
  • High-protein snacks
  • Maps
  • Whistle

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