Automotive expert Lauren Fix, better-known as "The Car Coach" of autotrader.com, showed Saturday Early Show viewers what every motorist needs to know - some things you could easily do yourself, and some that are better left to a mechanic.
Her pointers should help make sure your vehicle starts, and gets you where you want to go, especially on holiday road trips.
Fix used a Toyota hybrid on our plaza to demo the way to go.
She points to what she calls "the four Cs" of winterizing your car: check, change, carry and clean.
Anti-freeze: Check level; see if it's still good with simple test strips.
Oil: If it smells like burnt toast, it's bad; change it! Oils gets thicker with cold weather, so it should be in good condition to keep your engine lubricated. Check it every 3,000-5,000 miles. Check the maintenance section of your owner's manual. Be sure to get a good quality, name-brand oil and oil filter. Check your oil once a month. If it looks dark brown, change it.
Tire wear and tire pressure: Check the tire pressure in all four tires and the spare tire at least once a month. The recommended tire pressure is listed in your vehicle's manual, stamped on the side of the tire, and often printed on a sticker on the driver's-side doorjamb. When in doubt, 32 pounds per square inch (psi) is a good average until other sources can be consulted.
Battery: If you're having trouble starting your car, it may be the battery; have it checked.
Air filter replacement: If you have an air filter in your home, you would replace it when it's dirty, and the same thing goes for your car. You don't want your car to be "breathing" dirt. Change air filters every 12,000 miles or every 6 months. It's easy to do yourself! Be sure to get a quality, name-brand filter. That will give you better fuel economy and performance.
Switch to snow tires. It's dangerous to mix and match snow tires, because different brands have different tread levels for traction. So beware and be prepared.
Change to winter washer fluid that has a de-icer. If you're not sure of the condition or age of your antifreeze, test it with an antifreeze tester. That will tell you the ratio of water to antifreeze. If you've got too much water, your fluid could freeze inside the engine block and heads. Fluid expands when it freezes, even to the point of cracking your engine. That's one costly repair you want to avoid. Also, be aware that too much antifreeze means you'll lose the heat dissipation that water provides. That could overheat your engine and cause another costly repair.
Most cars require a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze.
Winter wiper blades: The protective sleeve will help keep the blade on your windshield.
Jumper cables (with a self-contained battery), flashlight with new batteries, first aid kit, tire sealant, cable ties, a "Help" sign, work gloves, basic tools, rain poncho, accident document kit, emergency contact info, protein bars and bottled water, ice scraper, blankets for passengers. Always make sure your cell phone is charged and ready to go. Also have on hand an emergency LED roadside flare PLUS a car care guide AND The FlareAlert, a battery-operated electronic safety flare, hand warmers, and a snow brush.
Snow and ice off roof, vehicle, and undercarriage, at car wash, to get rid of dirt and salt from roads. Clean wiper blades. Clean head lights and tail lights (the most important part of winter-driving is to "see and be seen."