A car or truck break down in the summer is frustrating. But during the winter months, snow, ice and freezing weather compound your woes when you vehicle fails.

To avoid finding yourself stuck on the roadside one snow day, take these steps to weather winter in the driver’s seat.

Check your tires – Make sure your tires aren’t worn and that your tire pressure is at the recommended level. Air pressure drops in cold weather, so check your tires often. Consider investing in a set of snow tires.

Check your fluids and air filter – Replace your air filter before the cold sets in and make sure your transmission, power steering and brake fluids are at the proper level and that your antifreeze will protect your car from Old Man Winter.

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“In most cases, you should use a 50-50 mix of antifreeze and water,” said Phil Sebastian, owner of Eagle Tire and Auto Repair.

Make sure your battery is in good shape – A dead battery is one of the most common causes of winter break-downs. To be certain that your vehicle is ready for winter, have an expert check your vehicle’s battery, belts and entire electrical system.

Don’t forget about your windshield wipers – If they’re worn out and not doing their job, replace them right away. Also, be certain your rear window defroster is in working condition as well. Remember to make sure you always have enough windshield washer fluid. Visibility is critical to winter driving, so always clean snow and ice off your entire car, including all windows and mirrors, before you hit the road.

Your gas tank should be full – or close to it – If your car does break down in the winter, you might need to run the engine for a while just to stay warm.

No matter how careful you, there’s always a possibility that you will be stranded on the side of the road during the winter months, so you always carry a winter emergency kit in your vehicle. Pack your kit with cat litter or sand to give you traction on snow or ice, a shovel, an ice scraper, flares, a flashlight and spare batteries, a cellphone and car charger, extra boots, blankets, water, gloves and a few snacks in case you have to wait for help.

Get a tune-up – Your vehicle needs to be in tiptop shape when the temperature drop. Plus, if you take your vehicle to Eagle Tire and Auto Repair, which serves the Helena and Bozeman areas of Montana, the expert mechanics can alert you to any other issues.

“Your car or truck will leave here ready to face winter,” Sebastian said.

To learn more about how to survive the winter, visit your nearest Eagle Tire and Auto Repair location in Helena or Bozeman or at www.eagletireonline.com. Call 406-443-5910 or 406-587-5415.

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