Tips to Prevent Your Car Breaking Down This Winter

A few simple tricks to help you avoid being stuck on the side of the road.

ByABC News
November 18, 2010, 2:57 PM

Dec. 6, 2010— -- You and your beloved car have made it through summer. But now as the weather turns cooler, that joyful vehicle might be causing you some trouble.

The holiday season can be stressful enough without having to worry about your car suddenly stopping in the middle of nowhere, miles away from the nearest gas station or rest area.

"Because of the state of the economy, motorists are holding on to their cars longer, therefore, it is imperative for them to take care of their vehicles, especially as winter approaches," said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend. "If it's not winter-ready, it won't ride out the storm or the season."

If you do get stranded by the side of the road, AAA suggests you stay with the car unless in immediate danger."In most cases, it's best to stay with your vehicle until help arrives," said AAA spokeswoman Christie Hyde.

If stranded, tie a bright cloth to your car's antennae and ignite roadside flares to attract assistance. If there is snow outside, make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snowbanks.

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Consumer Reports suggests that drivers be prepared for the worst and offers up the following five tips to assist stranded motorists.

#1: Know Your Exit Plan

Memorize the locations of your car's window switches and door locks. Verify if the front doors can unlock by pulling the handle or pressing an unlock switch. To prevent you car doors from freezing shut, try spraying the doors' rubber seals with a silicone spray lubricant beforehand. You can purchase this product at any auto shop. The water-resistant spray will prevent the ice from locking the doors shut.

#2: Keep Your Car Healthy

Maintain your car's equipment such as tires, exhausts and brakes. Before departing on a long trip, bring your car into any auto service station. Most places offer a winterizing package where your car's oil will be changed, coolant levels checked, windshield wipers replaced and tires examined. Keep your gas tank filled to prevent moisture from freezing the gas lines.