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Although October just began, many motorists are already thinking ahead to the coldest months of the year — and how their cars will fare in those tough conditions. Certainly, accidents can be a major concern during wintertime. There’s a rear-end collision on U.S. roads every eight seconds, and with slicker streets and snow build-up to contend with, simple fender benders can quickly become a lot more serious in a matter of seconds. You can reduce your risk of being involved in a crash (or even being stuck in a storm with few options at your disposal) just by performing some simple maintenance. Here are a few car maintenance tips for winter that will keep your vehicle running smoothly even when the snow starts to fall.

Watch Your Windshield Wipers

Can’t remember when you last changed your windshield wiper blades? Then it’s probably time to replace them. According to Consumer Reports, even the best-rated wiper blades can start to lose their effectiveness in just six months’ time. Therefore, it’s a good idea to switch them out at least twice a year. This will ensure you’re able to see clearly out of your windows during every snowstorm. Fortunately, this is a task you can actually DIY — though many facilities for car repairs may perform the replacement for free (and replacement blades are very affordable). This is one of the quickest and easiest car maintenance tips for winter, as you can check it off your list in a matter of minutes.

Put Your Tires to the Test

You should definitely inspect your tires before winter arrives, paying close attention to the amount of traction allowed by your current tires. If the depth of the tread isn’t sufficient, you’ll want to change your tires now rather than later. Many drivers find that snow tires are the best option, even if you don’t live in an area that’s particularly well-known for heavy snowfall. They’re more expensive, but they’ll often keep you safer on the roads. You should also check your tire pressure on an ongoing basis to ensure they’re inflated properly. Since under-inflated tires can hurt your fuel economy, reduce traction and handling, and increase the amount of wear in a shorter period, you’ll need to keep your tires inflated to recommended levels throughout the winter season.

Safeguard the Surface

While maintaining the inner workings of your car is essential, you can’t forget about its exterior, either. If you’ve ever had to find a shop for auto body repair Sioux Falls drivers rely on, you’ll know how important this step is. Summer adventures can take their toll on your vehicle’s body, so take the time now to scrub away any debris and assess any repairs that need to be made. Adding a layer of car wax to a clean exterior can also help to protect it against ice, snow, and road salt. Your local auto body shop may be able to recommend products or perform services to further protect your car from inclement weather, as well.

Pay Attention to Power

When it comes to vital car maintenance tips for winter, you can’t forget about your car’s battery. Cold temperatures can cause a battery to quit on you, as cooler weather makes it more difficult to crank it to full capacity. You can test your battery yourself or have it tested by a local repair shop. But if you want to avoid that much-dreaded morning wherein your car won’t start, you should replace your battery before winter (particularly if it’s more than five years old or you’ve noticed problems throughout the summertime). Those who live in extremely cold climates or don’t use their vehicles daily may even want to attach their car’s battery to a maintainer or trickle charger to maintain it when it isn’t in use.

There are a number of helpful car maintenance tips for winter that can allow vehicle owners to reduce frustration and emergency scenarios. By keeping the aforementioned points in mind, we hope you can adequately prepare for the season ahead — and know who to call when you need repairs.