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Experts urge preparing vehicles for winter weather

Photo by Linda Looney-Bond
Tim Forbes (left), service manager at the Goodyear Tire and Service Center in Jonesboro, and auto mechanic, Jason Gore, check the battery on a vehicle. Forbes urges motorists to winterize their vehicles by checking the battery, tire pressure, fluids, belts and hoses.

Photo by Linda Looney-Bond Tim Forbes (left), service manager at the Goodyear Tire and Service Center in Jonesboro, and auto mechanic, Jason Gore, check the battery on a vehicle. Forbes urges motorists to winterize their vehicles by checking the battery, tire pressure, fluids, belts and hoses.

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

Winter is here, which means it's a good time for motorists to winterize their cars, according to auto industry experts.

Winterizing a vehicle should include checking tire pressure, battery voltage, belts and hoses, spark plugs, and fluids, such as coolant, according to Tim Forbes, service manager of the Goodyear Tire and Service Center at 759 Ga. Highway 138, in Jonesboro.

"I think the reason a lot of people don't winterize is because they don't realize the importance of it," said Forbes. "It's important to make sure you're doing all of the maintenance that's required for your car. That extends the life of the car."

When checking tire pressure, Forbes said, keep in mind that air expands when heated, and contracts when cooled. For that reason, he said, tire pressure may decrease during cold weather.

"Weather is going to sometimes give your tire pressure some fluctuation. You always want to keep it at the proper pressure, which is between 32 and 35 PSI [pounds per square inch] for most cars," Forbes said. "You also want to look at the tread depth of your tires, and make sure your tires are safe."

When checking a car's battery, Forbes said, be sure the battery voltage is around 12 volts.

"That's one of the biggest issues that you'll have in the winter months -- batteries dying, having bad cells because of cold weather," he said. "That [checking the battery] keeps you from being stranded on the road, or having to call a tow truck to come and crank your car in the morning at home."

Forbes said any auto shop should be able to test the battery voltage.

He said fluids, such as coolant, should also be checked and filled to the correct levels. Belts and hoses should also be checked for possible wear.

"Make sure your belts and hoses aren't cracking and leaking. These are things, themselves, that create problems," Forbes said.

In addition to winterizing vehicles during the cold, winter months, Ready Georgia, a state emergency preparedness campaign, recommends keeping the gas tank at least half full, to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines. The Georgia Emergency Management Agency also advises motorists to keep a "Ready Kit" in the car.

Auto industry experts recommend keeping the following items in a ready kit:

* Flashlight, flares and a first-aid kit

* Jumper cables and a tool kit; tire chains if traveling north in the snow

* A blanket, warm clothes and gloves

* Paper towels

* A bag of abrasive material, such as sand, salt or non-clumping cat litter for added traction if you get stuck on the road

* Snow brush, ice scraper and snow shovel

* Extra washer fluid

* Extra food and water.

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On the net:

Ready Georgia: www.ready.ga.gov