The winter months can prove to be harsh on your vehicle especially if you live in an area where snow is abundant. Dont let the winter weather get the best of your car and your wallet. Here are a few ways you can detect problems before they arise: Check the Essentials There are several small checks you can do this winter to ensure your car runs on its best behavior: Check Your Oil Most oil changes are done once every 3 to 4 months – or approximately every 5,000 miles. If you change your oil before the winter season, you may not have to do it the rest of the winter. Plus, there are certain types of oil that may help your car run better in cold, harsh conditions. An oil change can cost as little as $9.95. Check Your Tires One of the worst things that can happen during the winter months is hitting a pot hole and damaging not only your vehicle’s tire, but the rims as well. Have your tires checked to make sure the tread will last through the winter. If you need new tires, it’s less expensive to get a new pair before the winter months and before you have problems, than after you’ve already damaged both the tires and the rims. When shopping for new tires, consider buying some that are built for snowy conditions. Check Your Defrost and Heating Systems If you live in a state where it snows, you know the feeling of getting into your car on a freezing-cold day and shivering for ten minutes while your car takes its sweet time warming up. Personally, I much prefer a nice, toasty vehicle. Check your vehicle’s heating system before the winter months to ensure that you wont be left in the cold. Check Your Brakes In the winter months, it’s not uncommon to come across dangerous roads covered with snow and ice. Don’t put your safety at risk with bad brakes! Before winter comes around, check your brakes and make any repairs necessary. Changing your brakes before the winter may save you from an accident — and the time and money it costs to repair a damaged car. Pack the Essentials There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in a snow storm with a broken down car. Just in case the worst happens to you, make sure you’re prepared by stocking up on the essentials before the winter season approaches. Here are a few of the items you should keep in your car this winter, according to MSNBC: Gloves Jumper Cables De-Icer / Windshield washer fluid Snow Brush / Ice Scraper Snacks Blanket Cell Phone Spare Tire Jack Flares Flashlight Batteries First-Aid Kit Know What to Do If your vehicle does happen to leave you stranded, the worst thing you can do is panic. By following these few simple tips from AAA, you can rest assured that you will be safe during your time of need. When you realize you’re in need of help, pull your car off to the side of the road or into the nearest parking lot. If you’re on the road, make sure you put your hazard lights on and if you have them, light two flares and put them at each end of your car. Next, call for help. The police or your insurance company should be the first people you call; this way you can get quick access to a tow truck. To keep warm, use the blanket you packed in your car for the winter. If help will not arrive for quite some time and you have enough gas, run your engine every so often to stay warm. It’s never too early to winterize your car. If you live in snowy, cold-weather state like Michigan, you know that the weather can change any second and you could be seeing snow flakes out your window any day now. The next time you go grocery shopping, add a few extra items on your list for your vehicle. Your vehicle and wallet will thank you.