Preparing Your Car for Cold Weather

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Whether you're planning on leaving the house or not, your vehicle needs some attention in these extreme conditions.

The roads were tough on drivers Monday, but without proper care of your car, you might not be able to drive anywhere as the temperatures drop.

With four-wheel drive, Zachary Puchacz's Jeep Wrangler can handle snow, but almost no car is built for sub-zero temperatures.

"I don't have a garage. It labors when it starts up," Puchacz said waiting for his oil change at Belle Tire off Saginaw Highway in Lansing.

That's common in these conditions, even with new cars, and it usually has to do with the battery.

"It's ability to really produce the power it needs to start the car, that's what's going to give you trouble," Belle Tire Manager Ryan Podmore said.

By making sure all the connections are secure and running it for a few minutes every day there will be less trouble, but warm it up slowly.

"You've got a layered piece of glass, and on the inside it gets a lot warmer, and there's some expansion that happens," Podmore explained. "On the outside it's still negative 12 degrees, and you'll get a crack in your windshield right away."

It's sort of like your car's version of frostbite. You don't want to be buried in the snow, and it doesn't either.

"Just like the stress it puts on your bodies, all of your moving joints and suspension, all of the fluids, you want to make sure those are in good shape," Podmore said

Check your coolant, washer fluid, and gas tank -- all of those should be full in this weather. It's also very important that tires are full. The extreme temperatures cause the air pressure to fluctuate a lot more, which could put you at risk on the road.

"It was going all over the road, so I was about five pounds light on air on each tire," Corky Juarez said while filling up his tires. "I could feel it on the road."

But what if you can't even get in your car in the first place? Experts say be patient with frozen doors

"You don't want to necessarily start yanking on the door or pulling on the handle and everything, because you might pull it right out of the door," Podmore said. "A lot of cars have plastic handles nowadays. They get cold, they get brittle."

To prevent that, try rubbing a household oil on the rubber gaskets or buy a de-icing spray bottle for a few dollars at a hardware store.

What's inside your car is just as important, in case you get stranded. It's a good idea to keep a blanket, first aid kit, emergency food, and flashlight on hand.

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