Tips for car care in Kentucky's cold temperatures

The cold snap has drivers across Central Kentucky lifting their cars' hoods with trepidation and even scratching their heads, wondering, is everything all right under there?

The motor club AAA says cars need extra maintenance in cold weather to make sure they're kept running smoothly. They say they do thousands of roadside assists every winter that could have been prevented if car owners had performed some simple checks.

Some checks can only be done by a certified technician, but others can be performed by owners right in their own driveways.

A fully charged battery in good condition is required to start an engine in cold weather. Drivers should make sure their batteries are fully charged, and always carry cables or a battery charger in their car with them. Also, remove any corrosion from the battery cables and terminals.

Inspect the drive belts for cracks or fraying.

Check for leaks in the cooling system by testing hoses for cracks or loose clamps. If the hoses feel brittle or spongy when they're squeezed, replace them.

Snow tires aren't usually required in Central Kentucky, since snowfall isn't heavy enough to demand them for safety reasons. All-season tires will work in moderate snow conditions, provided there's enough depth on the tire treads. If tires seem like they're too smooth to get grip on a snowy roadway, they should be replaced.

Check tire pressure frequently during winter months. Cold temperatures cause the tire pressure to drop, typically 1 PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Don't forget to check your spare tire!

Check the operation of all the headlights, taillights, emergency flashers, turn signals, brake lights, and back-up lights.

Wiper blades should completely clean the windshield glass with every swipe. Replace blades that leave streaks or moisture behind on the windshield.

Check the coolant levels when the engine is cold. if the coolant level is low, add a 50/50 solution of coolant and water to maintain the necessary antifreeze capability.

When it comes to your cars lights, check the operation of all headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers and back-up lights. Replace any burnt out bulbs.

Make sure your wiper blades are making good contact with the windshield. Look to see if they're missing any spots or have any excessive wear and tear.

Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution that has antifreeze components to prevent it from freezing.

AAA suggests having these items in your car for a winter emergency kit:

-Mobile phone, pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers including family and emergency services, and car charger
-Drinking water
-First-aid kit
-Non-perishable snacks for both human and pet passengers
-Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats
-Snow shovel
-Extra warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves)
-Flashlight with extra batteries
-Window washer solvent
-Ice scraper with brush
-Cloth or roll of paper towels
-Warning devices (flares or triangles)

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