Prepare Now for Winter Driving

(NUI) - Getting your vehicle ready for winter is important for safety and peace of mind, say the pros at the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), a nonprofit group which tests and certifies automotive technicians. Even in regions with milder winters, vehicles which receive regular, ongoing maintenance run better, last longer and command a higher resale value than neglected ones.

ASE offers the following advice about getting your vehicle ready for winter.

* Read your owner's manual and follow the manufacturer's service intervals.

* Replace worn wiper blades and keep plenty of washer fluid on hand to fight road salt, grit and other grime.

* Replace worn tires with all-season radials or snow tires, as conditions warrant. Don't forget to check the spare tire and the tire jack.

* Have a qualified auto technician check the condition of your battery and cables, plus the radiator, and all hoses and belts.

* If you are not a do-it-yourselfer, find a repair shop with a courteous staff, qualified technicians and modern equipment. Ask friends for their recommendations and check the reputation of the shop with your local consumer organization. Reward good service with repeat business.

* Look for repair facilities that employ ASE-certified technicians. These professionals have taken national exams to prove their competency to their employers and to you. ASE-certified technicians wear blue and white insignia and carry credentials listing their exact areas of expertise -; brakes, engine repair, etc. Facilities which employ ASE-certified technicians often display the blue and white ASE sign in the customer area.

* Engine performance problems such as rough idling, poor acceleration or hard starts should be corrected before cold weather sets in. You'll get better gasoline mileage, too.

* Make certain the heater and defroster are in good working condition; have the exhaust system examined for leaks, a potentially deadly condition in closed vehicles.

* Carry emergency gear: flares, boots, gloves, ice scraper, high-energy snacks, a blanket, shovel, flashlight, tire chains, a few tools and a car phone.

For a free brochure with wintertime maintenance tips send a self-addressed, stamped business-sized envelope to: ASE Winter Brochure, Dept NU-994, 13505 Dulles Tech- nology Drive, Suite 2, Herndon, VA 20171-3421.

ASE was founded in 1972 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive professionals. Visit for more information.

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