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PROJECT BLIZZARD: Preparing your car for winter

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- From frigid temperatures to sometimes relentless snow, there's a lot to prepare for with winter's arrival; including your vehicle.

Complete Auto Repair owner, Travis Batdorf, said there are three key areas that drivers need to check: battery life, tire tread and antifreeze level.

He said these areas will be critical for good car performance in the snow and freezing temperatures.

"Usually batteries will last you about 5 years," Batdorf said. "You really get what you pay for when it comes to batteries."

If you are uncertain about your batteries, many auto places can test them for free and tell you where it stands.

Once you're able to start your car in the cold, another thing needed is tires to handle the snow, ice and wet roads.

"Tires are based on a measurement of thirty-seconds of an inch," Batdorf said. "New tires come with about 12/32 to 15/32. Coming into winter you want to have at least 8/32 of tread on the ground."

One way to test your tires tread is with a gauge. Another trick, is to use the penny test: take a penny, and stick it upside down into your tire's tread. If you can see the top of Abraham Lincoln's head or more, you need new tires. If the tread covers parts of his head, your tires are good to go. Do this on multiple spots across the tires in case it hasn't worn evenly.

Batdorf also said with temperatures getting colder, filling them with more air is acceptable. For example, if your car's tires need 32 PSI, they should be at 36 so when they inevitably lose air in the cold, they won't fall below that 32 PSI threshold.

He also recommends snow tires for cars that do not perform well in snow.

Lastly, antifreeze levels will be key to keep your engine running well. It's responsible for keeping the water in your engine and radiator from freezing.

"People can go to a parts store, they can check it on their own or we can test it here," Batdorf said. "We have a little tester and you dip it into the antifreeze and you count the level of balls that raise up. It tells you how good the coolant is below zero."

One last area Batdorf said to monitor is your car's undercarriage. The salt and sand laid on the road can get into your cars undercarriage and eat at it causing rust. Batdorf recommends washing your car at least once per week.

Zach Fuller

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