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Winter driving conditions are here: Is your car ready?

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Posted at 2:28 PM, Sep 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-27 17:15:13-04

DENVER – The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for parts of southwestern Colorado on Wednesday. Snow accumulation and poor visibility will make travel on mountain roads difficult.

Winter driving conditions are here, and it’s a good time to put those pieces of winter gear back in your car. The National Safety Council recommends having these with you at all times:

  • Properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod jack
  • Shovel
  • Jumper cables
  • Tow and tire chains
  • Bag of salt or cat litter for better tire traction or to melt snow
  • Tool kit
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Reflective triangles or flares
  • Compass
  • First aid kit
  • Windshield cleaner
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Scissors and string or cord
  • Nonperishable, high-energy foods like unsalted, canned nuts, dried fruits and hard candy
  • Blankets, mittens, socks and hats

Besides having the winter gear in your car, it's important to have a mechanic check the condition of the following vehicle systems before heading out on the road:

  • Ignition
  • Brakes
  • Wiring
  • Hoses and fan belts
  • Spark plugs
  • Air, fuel and emissions filters, and PCV valve
  • Distributor
  • Battery
  • Tire wear and air pressure
  • Antifreeze level and freeze line

Driving in winter conditions can be harrowing, especially where blizzard and icy conditions crop up seemingly out of nowhere. Keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you is key to leaving yourself enough time to stop on slick streets.

But sometimes water or ice on the road can surprise drivers, even with little to no precipitation. AAA offers some winter driving tips.

  • Never mix radial tires with other types of tires
  • If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather
  • Do not use cruise control in wintery conditions
  • Look and steer in the direction you want to go
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly
  • Increase following distance to 8 to 10 seconds
  • Know whether you have antilock brakes, which will "pump" the brakes for you in a skid
  • If possible, don't stop when going uphill
  • Keep your gas tank at least half-full
  • If you do get stranded, don't try to push your vehicle out of snow
  • Signal distress with a brightly colored cloth tied to the antenna or in a rolled up window