Mainers have become complacent over the past couple of winters, as we eased into it with mild temperatures and little snowfall. So this year's plunge into winter driving has caught some by surprise. AAA New England has offered a few helpful tips to make sure your car is ready for winter.

And make sure you're ready, every time you get in your car. Don't drive when you're overtired, and always keep distractions away. That means, pack away the cell phone and never text and drive!

  • 1

    Battery and Charging System

    If you haven't already this year, have your battery checked by a trained technician. A fully charged battery in good condition is required to start an engine in cold weather.

    There are a few things you can do yourself, like making sure the battery terminals and cable ends are free from corrosion and that the connections are tight.

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  • 2

    Tires

    Installing snow tires, if you don't have them already, will provide the best winter traction. All-season tires work well in light-to moderate snow conditions provided they have adequate tire depth. If your tread is getting thin, it's time to replace the tires.

    Another important factor in your tires' performance is tire pressure. Check the sticker inside your front door and make sure you're inflating the tires to the right air pressure, for optimum performance in the current weather conditions. As the average temperature drops, so will tire pressures - typically by one PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

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  • 3

    Wiper Blades

    This is possibly one of the most important factors for winter driving. If your car gets splashed with slush and salt and the wipers won't clean it away, you're blinded. The blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe.

    Replace any blade that leaves streaks or misses spots. And consider installing winter wiper blades that wrap the blade frame in a rubber boot to reduce ice and snow buildup that can prevent good contact between the blade and the glass.

    Washer Fluid should also be appropriate for winter. Winter fluids contain antifreeze that will keep it functional no matter what the temperature. Make sure your reservoir is topped off regularly.

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  • 4

    Lights, Brakes, and Coolant Levels

    Regular maintenance on your vehicle is your best defense in the winter. Check the coolant level in your overflow tank when the engine is cold. If the level is low, add a 50/50 solution of coolant and water to maintain the necessary antifreeze capability.

    Any indication of a brake problem should be addressed immediately. Trying to stop on ice is tough enough without having the brakes fail on you!

    And check your lights regularly. It's important that you're clearly signalling your intentions to other drivers, whether it's that you're going to stop, or that you're about to turn. And don't forget the emergency flashers!

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  • 5

    Emergency Road Kit

    You want to make sure that you're prepared, in case you get stranded in your car. The essentials are important, like kitty litter for traction, a shovel, and jumper cables. But you should also have several items you may not think of. Here are a few suggestions. 

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