Tips to keep your car in tip-top shape

Half of the year in the Midwest our ground is covered with snow, but that doesn’t stop us from breaking out into the cold winter air and driving our cars to where we need to go.

To keep you safe in your vehicle through the frigid temperatures winter brings, follow these five tips:

CHARGE THE BATTERY
The last thing you want in the dead of winter is for your car’s battery to die while you’re on I-94 headed to a New Year’s party. Cold weather is hard on car batteries, so charging it before the the temperature goes below freezing can help ensure optimal use. Charging the battery is also something you can do on your own – overnight even – with the right equipment. If you’re not sure what to buy, head to your local auto body shop or talk to your mechanic.

CHANGE THE OIL
Be diligent about changing your car’s oil and oil filter at recommended intervals. Dirty oil can cause your car’s engine to die, and that is definitely something you don’t want when it’s 16° below outside.

INSPECT YOUR TIRES
With ice-covered roads a reality in our part of the nation, tires are a critical part of a car’s winter performance. Examine your tires for worn treads, make sure the tire pressure is where it should be and rotate as recommended. Don’t forget the spare! In the event that you do get a flat during the winter, you’ll want to make sure your spare is in good shape. If you’re worried about the longevity of your current tires, now’s a good time to consider investing in some new ones. You might also consider tires made to survive long winters.

CHECK THE WIPERS
Wet winter days are when your windshield wipers get the most use, so make sure they are ready to go. Wiper blades should be replaced every six months, so it’s a great item to pick up just before the cold season hits. Make sure to use cold weather washer fluid and consider using winter wiper blades designed to break through heavy snow. While you’re on the subject of clear windows, double-check that your car’s heaters and defrosters are working properly.

GET A TUNE UP
If you’re due for a tune up (or will need one soon after snow hits the ground) have it done as soon as you can. Winter often magnifies existing problems in vehicles including hard starts, rough idling and overall sluggish performance. You’ll benefit yourself by getting it checked now instead of shivering by the side of the road waiting for a tow later.

Want to have your dream ride waiting in the garage when the snow hits? With TruStone Financial’s AutoSmart website, you can search for cars from preferred dealers without leaving your home. The site even allows you to search vehicles by make and model, mileage, price range or your budget. Your neighborhood credit union also has affordable auto loan rates, so you can rest easy knowing you received the most competitive rate, without haggling.

For more information, call 800.862.1998 or stop in your nearest branch today!

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Editor’s Note: Segments of this post were taken directly from carcare.com and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.