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Information Connection: Preparing your car for bad weather

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(ARA) -- You may be interested in some cold hard facts about caring for your car in cooler temperatures. One of America's most trusted care car authorities, Lucille Treganowan--who hosts a national television show--oversees two auto mechanic shops and recently published a book on car repair - offers practical tips to help you cruise through the cool weather months: Step 1: Give Your Car the Once-Over

Even if you've got two left hands when it comes to your car, you can still provide the first line of defense in winterizing: information. Inspect your car for winter well being by examining the basics and if anything's amiss, tell your mechanic.

  • Check brake lights, turn signals, the trunk light -- right down to the glove box light.
  • Make sure you've got enough antifreeze in your cooling system. Letting it get too low can be a costly mistake.
  • Test the horn (but not at midnight).
  • Check the trunk for moisture or rust, which can indicate a water leak.
  • Examine the car for nicks and chips in the paint.
  • Check shocks and struts by pushing down on the hood as hard as you can. If the car bounces like a yo-yo, you may have trouble.
  • Take a Lincoln-head penny and insert it Lincoln-head first in your tire tread at the most worn part of the tire. If you see the top of Lincoln's head, you may need new tires.
  • Look under the car for signs of mud or salt buildup and inspect the garage floor for signs of leaks.

Step 2: Have an Auto Checkup

  • Check your vehicle manufacturer's recommendations to see if a different weight oil is required for winter. You should change your car's oil every 3,000 miles or three months, whichever comes first. Shops such as Jiffy Lube can change your car's oil quickly. The service centers all feature Pennzoil brand motor oil.
  • Check condition of hoses and belts. Blowing a hose or breaking a belt is bad anytime. In winter, it can be disastrous.
  • Inspect, and if needed, fill window washer fluid, radiator fluid, transmission fluid, brake fluid, differential fluid and power steering fluid.
  • Change air and oil filters and wiper blades, if necessary.
  • Check battery terminals. If you see signs of corrosion (whitish powder), clean them or have them cleaned.
  • Check tire pressure.
  • Spray graphite lubricant in locks.
  • Wash and wax your car to protect it during cold months.

Step 3: Better Safe than Sorry

  • The best-laid plans don't always yield the best results. Prepare a winter safety kit to keep in your car at all times. An old backpack or duffle bag is a great way to store these supplies so they don't clutter up your trunk or back seat. Be sure to include:
  • A small throw rug or towel and an old shower curtain. You can use them when kneeling next to your car or getting under it.
  • A set of battery cables
  • A large flashlight with extra batteries
  • Work gloves
  • Tools, including a screwdriver, pliers, rubber hammer, wrench and short-handled shovel
  • A wheel chock
  • An old scarf and belt for emergency hose repairs
  • A roll of mechanic's wire
  • A fluorescent safety vest and emergency flares
  • A bag of kitty litter
  • A cigarette lighter
  • A plastic jug of water and a funnel
  • A jug of drinking water
  • A portable radio with spare batteries
  • Basic first-aid supplies
  • Non-perishable food and blankets

Step 4: Words to Live By

And finally, a few tips to get you through a rough winter:

  • If your door locks have frozen, hold your key carefully over an open flame to heat it. Insert into the frozen lock as needed. Or, many times only one side of the car will be frozen; try going through the passenger side.
  • Remember that temperatures of 25 to 30 degrees can often be the most hazardous for driving, as you only get half as much traction on wet snow than you'd get on solidly frozen ground.
  • As every driver's education teacher tells you, steer INTO a skid.
  • Don't lower the air pressure in your tires thinking you'll get more traction. All you'll get is a too-flat tire.
  • If you get stuck in the snow, throw kitty litter, old newspapers or dirt behind the back wheels for additional traction.
  • On a cold, windy night, if your car is parked outside, position the front of the vehicle away from the wind.
  • Always, always keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • In all, remember that winter driving requires extra attention, so brake gently, accelerate gently and steer gently.

Treganowan, owner of two shops called "Transmissions by Lucille," is also the spokeswoman for Jiffy Lube International. The company has sent her all over America to present car care advice to the public.

 

SIDEBAR:

The Story Behind America's Most Trusted Mechanic

(ARA) -- The most renowned female mechanic in America, Lucille Treganowan is a no-nonsense grandmother who dealers, competitors and her own employees ask for advice on tough auto repairs. Today, Lucille hosts a national television show, oversees two auto repair shops and recently published a book on car repair -- all at the young age of 67.

Born in Kansas in 1930, Lucille attended the University of Arizona, where she met her first husband. After moving to his hometown of Pittsburgh and having three small children, the marriage ended and Lucille was faced with the challenge of supporting her family alone.

After finding work at an auto repair shop, Lucille was increasingly frustrated by her inability to answer customers' repair questions. She began to read automotive books in her spare time and soon found that she could repair transmissions the other mechanics had given up on.

She opened her first shop, "Transmissions by Lucille," in 1973 and now employs nearly 30 people at two locations. Her success in a male-dominated field has garnered her much attention, including a front-page article in the "Wall Street Journal," a feature story in "People" magazine and appearances on national television including the "Oprah Winfrey Show," "Home Improvement" and "Dateline NBC." Later this year Lucille will also be featured in "Ladies Home Journal" and "Reader's Digest."

Lucille currently hosts a weekly half-hour television show, "Lucille's Car Care Clinic" on Home & Garden Television and a regular column in the MSNBC web site on the Internet. In addition, Treganowan penned "Lucille's Car Care: Everything You Need to Know from Under the Hood By America's Most Trusted Mechanic" with co-author Gina Catanzarite (Hyperion 1996, $19.95), now also available in soft cover.

Lucille to Continue National Car Care Tour in 1999

Recently, Lucille has been traveling around America as Jiffy Lube's national spokesperson and presenting car care clinics to the public. She began her national tour in Chicago in January 1997 and helped Jiffy Lube launch its national air bag safety campaign in Los Angeles in April of that year. Jiffy Lube also sent her to North Dakota to help residents recover their vehicles from flood damage in June 1997. Over the past year, Lucille has continued her media campaign with appearances on Capital Hill as well as on "Good Morning America" and in "Ladies Home Journal." This October, her winter car care tips will be featured in "Family Circle."

Cindy Landers, director of public relations for Jiffy Lube International, said the company plans to continue national car care clinics throughout 1999. "Lucille has a tremendous appeal to the public. She is at once professional and credible, and always has the best interest of the consumer in mind," Landers said. "As the leader in our industry serving 23 million customers each year, Jiffy Lube has a responsibility to educate people about car care and help them keep their vehicles safely on the road. We recognize our responsibility to always maintain the highest degree of integrity. Lucille represents us well in this cause."

Courtesy of Article Resource Association, http://www.aracopy.com.

 

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