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NAPA Says Motorists Will Be Thankful They Took Time to Prepare Vehicles for Winter

ATLANTA--Nov. 2, 20051, 2005--As the first blasts of cold air warn of the coming winter, NAPA AUTO PARTS recommends that motorists winterize their vehicles before they set out on holiday road trips. Falling temperatures place extra stress on cars and trucks, causing the air pressure in tires to drop, batteries to lose their power and fluids to freeze.

"A well-maintained vehicle is not only safer and more reliable in harsh winter conditions, but it operates more efficiently, will last longer and will likely have a higher resale value in the future," said Michael Lavoie, the 2006 NAPA Technician of the Year and owner of Lavoie's NAPA AutoCare Center in Haverhill, N.H.

According to AAA, nearly a third of the 29 million emergency road service calls the association will make this year will involve flat tires and dead batteries. For every 10 degrees the outside temperature falls, a tire's internal pressure will drop one or two pounds per square inch.

To prepare for snowy and icy conditions, motorists should check their tires for wearing, balding or signs the tires are out of alignment. Tire pressure should be checked at least once a month to assure the tires are not under or over-inflated. Low pressure in the tires can increase wear and fuel consumption, while having too much pressure may reduce traction. Proper alignment is essential to assure longer tire life and improve fuel economy.

Battery terminals should be cleaned to prevent corrosion, which could keep the car from starting during cold weather. NAPA Auto Parts stores have brushes available that make cleaning the battery terminals relatively easy.

If the vehicle cranks slowly when it starts, it should be checked by a qualified automotive technician to assure the battery can hold its power. Batteries should be replaced every three years or anytime they cannot hold their power.

"Batteries will lose 35 percent of their power at 32 degrees Fahrenheit and up to 60 percent at zero," Lavoie said. "Any battery that is recharged after it has gone dead will have less power capacity. The more times a battery is recharged, the less likely it will hold a charge over an extended period of time."

Having a battery in good working order is especially important for motorists who drive in stop-and-go traffic. An engine that is idling with the defroster, headlights, windshield wipers, radio and heater operating can put extra strain on the battery and increase the likelihood of failure.

Motorists should also have the cooling system on their vehicles completely flushed and refilled with the antifreeze-water mixture recommended by their owner's manual every two years or every 30,000 miles. The water-antifreeze mixture not only maintains a safe temperature in the motor, but protects the cooling system's copper and aluminum parts from corrosion and deterioration and helps keep the fluids in the system flowing smoothly.

The coolant reservoir should be checked monthly and topped off with the appropriate antifreeze and water mixture as needed. Lavoie recommends checking the windshield washer reservoir at the same time. Power steering, brake, radiator and battery fluids should also be checked periodically--and especially before the start of winter.

To avoid visibility problems caused by snow and freezing rain, wiper blades should be examined and replaced if they are making streaks across the windshield. Because of lower visibility during the winter, all lights should be checked to make sure there are no burned out bulbs. Use a wet rag to clean road grime from the lenses (a dry rag could cause scratching).

Vehicle brakes should also be professionally inspected and worn pads replaced to ensure they will respond immediately during wet and slippery situations.

"Mechanical failure is an inconvenience any time, but during the winter, it can be deadly," said Lavoie. "Motorists will be thankful they took the time now to have their vehicles inspected and maintained, which will help prevent costly and even life-threatening failures this winter."

NAPA AutoCare Centers offer a preventive maintenance program that includes a complete inspection and regular monitoring of vehicle systems. Consumers can learn more about this program by contacting their local NAPA AutoCare Center.

NAPA's Winterizing Tips
    1. Analyze tires for wearing, balding or non-alignment
    2. Clean battery terminals to prevent corrosion
    3. Flush cooling system and refill with antifreeze-water mixture
    4. Check coolant reservoir
    5. Examine wiper blades
    6. Inspect brakes and pads


NAPA AUTO PARTS distributes parts, accessories, tools and equipment to 6,000 NAPA AUTO PARTS stores and more than 12,000 NAPA AutoCare Centers nationwide. For more information about NAPA and vehicle care, visit