(WTVM) - The Chattahoochee Valley is expecting to see colder than normal temperatures over the next days, so you may want to make sure your car is up to par so you aren't left stranded.
Experts give the following tips when it comes to frigid temperatures and automobiles:
Inspect your antifreeze. Make sure to do it while your engine is cold. Use a tester to check the mixture for its freezing point. Half of the mixture should be distilled water, and the other half should be antifreeze. This is sufficient in most climates -- except in areas of extreme cold, which includes Southern California this year.
Check your electrical charging system. Cold weather makes your battery work much harder, so a battery that started your car just fine through the fall might not be up to the strain of winter. Make sure to see a professional. Advance Auto Parts stores will do it for you for free.
Change your oil and oil filter. Clean, high-quality engine oil goes a long way to protect the motor in cold-start situations. For cold weather, a multiweight oil like 10W-50 makes a lot of sense because it flows easily at low temperatures -- while still providing ample protection from wear. Check for vehicle manufacturer recommendations in your owner's manual.
Visually inspect all lights. These include marker bulbs, tail lights and third-level brake lights (aka Center High Mount Stop Light, or CHMSL). Headlights and driving lights should get special attention. Lengthier hours of darkness require bulbs to work harder in the winter, causing them to dim or burn out more quickly. Check to make sure that the headlight lens casing around the lights is clean as well.
Check tire tread and inflation pressure. Winter driving requires good traction in snow and ice, so the condition and depth of your tire tread is critical. Bald or severely worn tires are especially treacherous in wet, icy and snowy conditions. Meanwhile, frigid weather can wreak havoc on your tires' inflation pressure. Check your tire pressure regularly and follow the recommended pounds per square inch (PSI) found on the driver's-side door post for maximum traction, tire life, and fuel economy.
Get your brakes inspected. When it comes to safety, stopping is more important than going. Braking can be difficult in icy weather, so it's essential that your brakes work properly. Check your brake pads and replace them if necessary. Have your rotors inspected as well.