Friday, October 4, 2013

Safety Check: Car Care Month!

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October is Car Care Month, and the perfect time to prepare your car for the coming winter!  The tips below provide suggestions for a few basic preparations that could help ensure that your vehicle is in good working order before winter strikes. These tips may also just save you, and your family, the hassle of a winter breakdown and ensure that you are prepared should an emergency arise:

Inspect the battery: 
Examine the connections to your battery and be sure they are clear of debris. If your battery is near the end of its life, replace it before cold winter weather hits. Extreme cold can tax your battery and a weakened battery may fail to respond properly, leaving you, and possibly your family, stranded in bitter, potentially hazardous, conditions.

Examine belts and hoses:
Visually check all belts and hoses for wear and tear; replace those that are damaged as needed.

Oil and filter changes and fluid level checks:
Consult your vehicle's owner's manual, or a trusted mechanic, to determine the optimal interval between oil changes, and get one before the cold weather sets in. Be sure to have the oil filter changed too and to top off fluids, including: windshield washer fluid, transmission fluid, and brake fluid.

Flush the radiator:
Have the radiator flushed to check for leaks; resolve any problems before cold weather sets in.

Check treads and rotate tires:
Inspect tires for signs of wear, damage, and proper inflation.  Be sure to rotate when necessary to avoid uneven tread wear.  Worn treads can pose a hazard in slippery conditions and improper inflation reduces not only fuel efficiency, but tire life as well. Replace tires if they are worn or over 6 years old. 

Update emergency supplies:
Ensure that all emergency kit supplies are fresh and functional; old flares, water, medicines, batteries, and food should be replaced. If you don't have an emergency kit, consider putting one together (click here for tips on that from Edmund's!) or purchasing one, like this one from AAA (be sure to include a few blankets, some water, and snacks); it could be the difference between life and death if you or your children are trapped in the cold for an extended period.

Roadside assistance:
A roadside assistance plan, like AAA's, is imperative if you travel extensively, particularly with children. In addition, it is advisable to always keep a fully charged cell phone in your vehicle and bring a car charger to keep it fully charged while you're on the road; having a phone available prevents you from having to rely on strangers to call for help!

Safe and happy travels!

-Destination Mom

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