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Prepare your automobile for winter driving conditions

As the winter holidays approach, people tend to do more driving than usual. Trips to the mall for holiday and last-minute shopping are common, as are those dashes to the store to scoop up forgotten yet necessary ingredients for special holiday meals.

Indiana winters can be snowy and frigid. Motorists must take special precautions in late autumn to ensure that their vehicles are prepared to withstand the conditions that develop once the mercury starts falling. Below are some tips that may keep you and your family safer this year.

Put the snow tires on now

Don't let winter's wrath leave you spinning your wheels in frustration. Make an appointment with your local tire shop to put snow tires on your vehicle before you get caught out in inclement weather.

Replace old auto batteries

It's far better to replace your battery now than to face a cold, dead battery on a snowy morning when you'll be late to work. But also carry a decent set of jumper cables, just in case.

Stay current on oil changes

The colder it gets, the thicker the oil in your engine becomes. Make sure to get frequent oil changes and use the manufacturer's recommended viscosity oil for your vehicle.

Replace your wiper blades

Snow and ice can really give your wiper blades a winter workout. Replace them now before the snow flies and one goes sailing across two lanes of traffic. Also, invest in a sturdy snow and ice scraper to clear off your car before venturing out on the surface streets.

It's also wise to purchase some freeze-resistant windshield wiper fluid that is able to withstand cold temperatures.

Plan for emergencies

Nobody plans to get stranded in a snowstorm, but every year the news shows footage of hapless motorists slip-sliding into ditches and getting stuck on interstates in blizzard conditions. If that fate should befall you, you want to survive the experience.

Store a couple of heavy blankets and some warm clothing in your trunk. Add a jug of water and some dried meat, fruits and crackers. Put fresh batteries and a bulb in a flashlight and store it along with a shovel and bag of rock salt or kitty litter to help you get out of a slick patch. If you take prescription medication, include a day's worth of your vital medicine doses.

Hold negligent drivers accountable

No matter how safely you drive, you are only as safe as the others with whom you share the road. If you wind up injured in an accident caused by another at-fault driver, you have the right to seek civil justice by filing a claim for damages.

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Hovde Dassow + Deets

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