Archive for December, 2016|Monthly archive page


The new 2017 Jeep® Wrangler Winter Edition has arrived at the perfect time. With snow covering the trails and the city streets, and cold-weather adventure waiting, the Winter Edition of the award-winning Jeep Wrangler is ready to off-road into the holidays and beyond. And the 2017 Jeep Wrangler Winter Edition is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the Jeep Wrangler has in store for the New Year.

In addition to the special-edition Willys Wheeler, 75th Anniversary, Rubicon Hard Rock and new Winter Edition models, the Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited roll out features and updates for the 2017 model year like new exterior colors and new available LED headlamps and fog lamps. If you love open-air freedom — even in the frigid air — here’s a bit of what you can expect from the Trail Rated® icon.

New Exterior Colors for 2017

The 2017 Jeep Wrangler two-door and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited four-door will be available in a variety of new paint colors. New color options for 2017 will include Chief (shown above), Gobi, Xtreme Purple and Acid Yellow. Now you’ll have four more paint colors to completely cover in slush and mud in the coming year.

New Available LED Headlamps and Fog Lamps for 2017

New available LED headlamps and fog lamps on the 2017 Jeep Wrangler are designed to help enhance nighttime visibility and light the way on the trail for your next excursion. When it comes to performance, the new LED lights provide greater high-beam output and low-beam output. The LED headlamps and fog lamps come standard on the Sahara and Rubicon, and are optional on the Sport and Sport S.

New 2017 Jeep Wrangler Winter Edition

The New 2017 Jeep Wrangler Winter Edition is engineered to conquer the snow and designed to look good doing it. Performance features on this special-edition Wrangler include 17-inch Mid-Gloss Black slotted aluminum wheels; BF Goodrich® All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires; Dana 30 front axle and heavy-duty Dana 44 rear axle; Trac-Lok® limited-slip rear differential standard, Tru-Lok® mechanical rear locker optional; 3.21 axle ratio standard, 3.73 axle ratio optional; Command-Trac® 4×4 transfer case with 2.72:1 ratio; front and rear steel off-road bumpers and premium off-road rock rails.

Exterior Winter Edition features include the new LED headlamps and fog lamps; hood, driver side fender, and rear fender decals; body-color grille with Mid-Gloss Black accents; Mid-Gloss Black Jeep badge; black Freedom Top® hardtop standard, body-color optional; and black fuel filler door, taillamp guards, and deep tint windows. In addition, the 2017 Jeep Wrangler Winter Edition is available in a variety of exterior colors, including Firecracker Red, Chief, Rhino, Granite Crystal, Billet Silver, Black, Bright White and Xtreme Purple.

The 2017 Jeep Wrangler Winter Edition takes no shortcuts on performance and exterior features, and the same can be said for the interior — this Jeep vehicle is built with winter driving in mind. Interior features include heated, leather-trimmed front seats with Sport Mesh inserts and Diesel Gray accent stitching; leather-wrapped steering wheel with Piano Black accents and Diesel Gray accent stitching; Piano Black interior accents; exclusive instrument cluster graphics; remote start* standard (with automatic transmission); the Power Convenience and Connectivity Groups; and all-weather floor mats.

Stay tuned for coming announcements, and learn more about the 2017 Jeep Wrangler at

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The 2017 Ram 2500 Power Wagon® — A New Look to Match Its Legendary Capability

The best keeps getting better. We already introduced you to the new 2017 Ram Power Wagon when it was revealed back in February. Here’s a closer look at the visual and feature enhancements for the 2017 model year that kick the style up a notch on the most capable off-road full-size pickup.*

Exterior Styling
The new, unmistakably aggressive matte black Power Wagon grille sets the tone with authority. The Ram centric design draws inspiration from the new Ram 1500 Rebel and clearly defines the Power Wagon’s updated character. Below that new geteriorrille and neatly packaged behind the new Black powder-coated bumper resides the 12,000-pound Warn® winch, which has adorned every Power Wagon model since 2005. Flanking the grille are blacked-out headlamps to complete the powerful aesthetic up front, while the exclusive black Power Wagon decal adorns the hood.

Around the side, the bed is emblazoned with a new vertical Power Wagon graphic. The graphic is a throwback to the ’79-’80 Power Wagon models and includes pin-stripe detailing. Massive 33-inch off-road tires, designed to maintain grip on the most treacherous terrain, are wrapped around new 17-inch aluminum wheels with eight matte black-painted pockets.

Out back, the tailgate makes a bold statement with new matte black RAM and POWER WAGON badging — removing any doubt to those trailing behind it in the backcountry as to what truck they are (or were) attempting to follow.

Interior Style and Options

The refreshed center stack and new steering wheel are the reins to this beast — allowing the driver easy and comfortable access to all controls. A new gauge cluster design includes the 7-inch LCD display with unique Power Wagon screens.

The all-black interior features new standard seating with “tire tread” embossed inserts and Power Wagon logos on the front-seat bolsters. New leather-trimmed seats, also featuring the Power Wagon bolster logos, are available in the new Luxury & Leather Group, which includes luxurious touches like a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, LED interior lighting, memory driver’s seat and exterior mirrors, a nine-speaker audio system with subwoofer, plus much more.

The 2017 Ram 2500 Power Wagon is ready to tackle the toughest terrains this fall. Stay tuned to the RamZone blog for additional updates, and learn more about the entire Ram Trucks lineup at

*Based on latest available competitive information. Class based on all Full-Size Pickups.

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Hybrid minivan sweetened by apps

Chrysler has sweetened the deal on hybrid minivans by throwing apps into the mix.

Though many hybrid buyers want the city-cycle efficiency they deliver, some simply like gadgets, and the Pacifica Hybrid has some ways to satisfy that. First, the standard 8.4 inch Uconnect screen includes Hybrid Electric Pages, with a dynamic power flow illustration (introduced by Toyota, inventor of the modern hybrid, in their first Prius), and a driving history, showing distance driven in electric and hybrid modes, by day.

Utilities may, even more than owners, appreciate the charge scheduling feature, which lets owners schedule when the minivan will charge, or have it charge immediately. That lets owners use off-peak rates and lets utilities balance their loads.

The seven-inch trip computer changes color to show whether the minivan is in electric mode (teal) or hybrid mode (blue). Battery and fuel level are both always shown, along with current range. Drivers can choose to see an “efficiency coach” as well; it not only does the usual “moderate acceleration” routine, but also guides drivers on how to use the regenerative brakes to advantage.

Finally, there is an app, which based on past experience will likely never be updated, which lets owners check their battery status, range, and time to full charge; they can also find charging stations and see if they are available. As with similar apps for other FCA US cars, it lets owners remotely lock, unlock, or start the car, and send destinations to the navigation system. The app is sold for IOS and Android.

The company has not yet released images of the app or screens.
AMP version.

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Winter has arrived again, bringing with it snowy adventures, family get-togethers and holiday parties. It’s a season that inspires thrill seekers to take to the outdoors in a vehicle versatile enough to navigate everything from a ski adventure in the mountains to a New Year’s celebration in the city — ‘tis the season for the All-New 2017 Jeep® Grand Cherokee.

Off-road exploration in the All-New 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk®

Snow is a welcome sight for anyone who loves cold-weather exploration. Winter means ski trips, snowball fights and forts, and an excuse to set a new course on a powdery off-road adventure. The All-New 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, with rugged skid plates and the Quadra-drive® II 4×4 system for maximum torque, is designed to dominate the wintery trails. And with up to 68.3 cubic feet of space with the rear seat folded, the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk ever is your partner during the coldest months, ready to carry all your winter sports gear to the highest peaks and snowiest locations.

Embrace the season in the All-New 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit

When your off-road winter adventure returns to the city for a holiday party, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit, the most luxurious vehicle in its class*, is one decorated, high-performing sleigh. Arrive in style with a supple leather-trimmed interior, and enjoy a Harman Kardon® Audio System with 19 high-performance speakers, and the CommandView® dual-pane sunroof as you navigate the brightly lit, festive city streets. No one will blame you if you take the surface streets and arrive a little late to the shindig.

Arrive safely at the family gathering in the All-New 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Finally, what would the holidays be without a family get-together? As you set off for Grandma’s house, chart a course that takes you off the beaten path, and take comfort knowing that the Jeep Grand Cherokee was designed to bring families together safely, with over 70 standard and available safety and security features, including seven airbags†—multistage driver and front-passenger airbags, side-curtain airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags and a driver-side knee blocker airbag—helping to ensure that you and your passengers will stay secure. No matter how rough your family snowball fight gets, the Jeep Grand Cherokee will do its part to help keep you safe and secure, coming and going.

With so many off-road performance features, luxurious appointments and built-in safety and security features, the Jeep brand says let it snow. The Jeep Grand Cherokee is designed to do more than get you through the holidays — it’s a vehicle that will inspire you to enjoy the winter wonderland.

Get in the holiday spirit with the All-New 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and start planning your winter adventures at

*Based on 2016 Ward’s Middle/Sport Utility Vehicle segmentation. Excludes other FCA U.S. LLC vehicles.

†Always sit properly in designated seating positions with seat belts securely fastened at all times.

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Danger: What’s the Michigan Law on Clearing Snow from Vehicles?

When you cleared your car, did you remember to remove the snow from the roof? If you didn’t, you might get a ticket.

Michigan is one of 12 states that require roof-clearing. And if you’ve ever been driving on the freeway and see a chunk of ice break loose and hurtling toward your car, you know why. Injuries can result, and even if it’s just fluffy snow that’s blowing off your roof, it can reduce the vision of the motorist behind you.

Michigan law is specific about what you need to know.

 Motorists are also required to completely clear snow and ice from windshields and other windows, and make sure snow is cleared from headlamps and taillights.

Winter Driving Tips: How to Drive in the Snow

In a perfect world, all roads would be dry and untrafficked. But in the real world, drivers face a wide variety of weather conditions, and when snow is added to the mix, the potential for automotive disaster can increase exponentially.

Whether you venture to the ski slopes once in a blue moon or spend six months of every year in snowy climes, we’ve assembled a few crucial points to remember while braving snow-covered roads. Follow these tips, and you might even look forward to cold weather driving!

Slow, Turn, Go!
Dynamically speaking, a car can only do three things: accelerate, turn and brake. While it’s possible to combine those commands from the behind the wheel, vehicles are far easier to control when those actions are performed separately. Let’s say you’re approaching a sharp bend on a snowy road: first, gently apply the brakes in advance of the turn. After taking your foot off the brake, coast through the corner while turning the wheel. Only after you’ve exited the turn and straightened the steering wheel, gently accelerate. “As easy as that sounds intellectually, it’s really hard for most people to put into practice,” says Mark Cox, Director of the Bridgestone Winter Driving School.

Limit Your Speed, and Think Ahead
Excessive speed is the single biggest reason people lose control in the snow, and slowing down will give you enough wiggle room to correct your course in case your vehicle loses control. “It takes 4 to 10 times longer to stop in ice and snow,” explains Cox. “Adjust your speed to the conditions,” he adds, “but also remember that going too slow can be just as problematic as going too fast.”

If You Start to Slide…
… don’t panic! A proper response will ensure that car control is regained. If the vehicle oversteers (i.e., the back end swings out), accelerate lightly in order to transfer weight to the rear and increase traction. It may feel counterintuitive to press the gas pedal while a car is sliding, but that action can straighten out the tail-happy yawing motion. Conversely, if the car understeers (i.e., slides forward without turning), straightening the steering and gently touching the brakes will shift more weight over the front wheels and enable the tires to “bite” again. As with all winter driving maneuvers, using a gentle hand and not stabbing the gas, brake or steering wheel is the most effective way to recover from a slide.

Humans tend to target fixate. Couple that with the natural reflex to go where you’re looking, and it’s no wonder so many out-of-control cars head straight into curbs and lampposts. By training yourself to look where you want to go, your hands will follow your eyes and steer away from danger.

Smooth and Easy Wins the Race
Race drivers swear by smoothness when it comes to driving technique, and that practice becomes even more important in wintry conditions. “Pretend you’ve got a cup of coffee on the dashboard,” advises Matt Edmonds, Vice President of “If you make sudden or abrupt movements, you’ll go from grip to no grip very quickly.” On the other hand, “[smooth inputs] will help you sense the limits of your tire’s grip before your car starts to slide.”

Know Your Limits and Your Car’s Limits
Becoming familiar with your car’s handling dynamics will prepare you for the unexpected. When the going gets slippery, does your car understeer (plow forward), oversteer (fishtail) or drift sideways? Weight distribution, suspension and drivetrain setups (like front-, rear- or all-wheel drive) affects how your car reacts to adverse conditions. If you can’t attend a driving school and learn about vehicle dynamics from the pros, carefully explore your car’s limits in a safe area like an abandoned parking lot. Once your sense memory develops, you’ll be better prepared to handle a slide when it arrives unannounced.

Don’t Rely Too Much on Technology
Electronic aids like anti-lock brakes and traction control have done wonders for vehicle safety, but icy conditions can render those features useless. Once a tire loses its mechanical grip on a slick surface, all the high-tech gizmos in the world won’t stop that vehicle from spinning out of control. Avoid the inescapable laws of physics by keeping your speed reasonable and maintaining a safe distance from cars and objects around you.

Pick Your Tires Like You’d Pick Your Shoes
“Some shoes are good at everything, but not great at one thing,” says Edmonds. Following that logic, you wouldn’t wear flip-flops in the rain—and likewise, you shouldn’t drive through winter snow on summer tires. Edmonds advises looking for the international symbol for winter tires, which is a snowflake on a mountain. A number of winter tire varieties exist; snowbelt states call for dedicated winter rubber which is referred to as a “studless ice and snow tire,” featuring more aggressive tread and deeper blocks. In regions where snow falls more occasionally, you might opt for so-called performance winter tires, which offer better grip under dry conditions.

A Question of Chains
Unless the law demands it, avoid installing chains and choose instead to invest in a solid set of winter tires. As it stands, winter tires are so effective that several provinces in Canada actually make it a legal requirement to install them during certain months of the year. California is the last U.S. state that requires chains on mountain passes, and those regulations may someday be eliminated.

Keep Your Car Maintained
A reliably running car can help avoid a world of complications in inclement weather. Make sure your tire pressure hasn’t dipped with the drop in ambient temperature, and your vehicle will be easier to control as a result. Install winter wiper blades in order to maximize visibility, and test your battery to make sure it can handle the challenges of cold weather cranking. Take care of your car, and it will take care of you.

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Jeep® vehicles are built to perform on the scenic route and designed to make a big splash upon arrival, which made the LA Auto Show the perfect place to debut the All-New 2017 Jeep Compass. With best-in-class available 4×4 off-road capability1 and a premium interior, the All-New 2017 Jeep Compass was the perfect fit for California’s intersection of adventure and style.

Off-road performance

In the All-New 2017 Jeep Compass, you’re free to explore new trails on the coast when you’re ready to get out of the city. For best-in-class available off-road capability1, Compass offers two advanced, intelligent 4×4 systems. Jeep Active Drive is a full-time 4×4 system, and Jeep Active Drive Low is a full-time 4×4 system with 20:1 crawl ratio. Each system can send 100 percent of available torque to any one wheel. In addition, both Jeep Active Drive and Active Drive Low 4×4 systems include the Jeep Selec-Terrain® system, providing up to five modes (Auto, Snow, Sand and Mud modes, plus exclusive Rock mode on the Trailhawk model) for optimal four-wheel-drive performance on- or off-road and in any weather condition.

The Trail Rated® Jeep Compass Trailhawk

The All-New 2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk was designed for those who seek adventure and prefer to venture off the beaten path, from coat to the coast. For even greater Trail Rated off-road capability, Selec-Terrain includes Selec-Speed Control with Hill-Descent Control on Trailhawk models. Additional features and highlights of the Trailhawk include standard Jeep Active Drive Low 4×4 20:1 crawl ratio; Selec-Terrain with Rock mode; increased ride height of almost one inch; skid plates; Jeep brand signature red front and rear tow hooks; unique fascias with a 30-degree approach angle, 24-degree breakover angle and 34-degree departure angle; Hill-Descent Control; aggressive 17-inch off-road tires; up to 19 inches of water-fording capability2; and up to 2,000 pounds towing capability when properly equipped.

City streets and on-road performance

When the All-New 2017 Jeep Compass returns from the trails along the Pacific Ocean, it’s ready to navigate the streets of Los Angeles in style with athletic on-road driving dynamics. The Compass features FCA’s “small wide architecture,” a fully independent suspension, Koni frequency damping front-and-rear-strut system, and precise electric power steering that combine to deliver an engaging and responsive ride. And when it comes to efficiency, the All-New 2017 Jeep Compass features the proven, efficient 2.4-liter Tigershark® four-cylinder engine matched with a standard 6-speed manual or available 6- or 9-speed automatic transmission.

Authentic Jeep vehicle design with premium features and open-air freedom

From highways to coastal trails and downtown streets to back country roads, the topography of America is as varied as the people who call it home. For these diverse adventure seekers, the All-New 2017 Jeep Compass features a premium, sculptural design aesthetic. The legendary seven-slot grille features a fresh look, with each of the individual chrome slots in a Gloss Black field. An available dual-pane sunroof provides a large opening overhead, connecting drivers and passengers to the outdoors and open-air freedom. And while you’re out enjoying that open-air freedom, you’ll be able to reach your cargo with ease thanks to the available power liftgate.

Interior Design and Technology

Inside, the center console neatly integrates the functional features of the All-New 2017 Jeep Compass, including gear-shift selection, available Selec-Terrain controls, electronic parking brake, climate and volume control knobs, and easily accessible media charging and connectivity ports within the cubby bin.

Advanced technology delivers thorough use of the new infotainment systems. The 2017 Jeep Compass offers four new Uconnect® systems (Uconnect 5.0, 7.0, 8.4 and 8.4NAV), delivering communication, entertainment and navigation features that drivers and passengers desire, including the full-color LED instrument cluster. And now, Apple CarPlay® and AndroidTM Auto are available, so you can connect your iPhone® or Android mobile device for seamless integration of calls and texts3, as well as your favorite apps, maps, music and more.

The best for last — safety and security comes first

The All-New 2017 Jeep Compass offers more than 70 available active and passive safety and security features, including “safety cage” construction with more than 65 percent high-strength steel. Available features include Forward Collision Warning-Plus4, LaneSense Departure Warning-Plus5, Blind Spot Monitoring5 with Rear Cross Path detection6 and ParkView® rear backup camera6 with dynamic grid lines — plus seven standard airbags7.

The west coast has been fun — now it’s time to explore the country. Learn more about the open-air freedom of the All-New 2017 Jeep Compass at

1Based on the Compact SUV Segment and the Jeep Compass offering a low-range power transfer unit (PTU) with a 20:1 crawl ratio, low-range 4×4 capability.

2Water fording depth varies 19-30 inches depending on Trail Rated Jeep 4×4. Do not attempt water fording unless depth is known to be less than maximum capability. Check owner’s manual for details. Traversing water can cause damage not covered by the new vehicle warranty. Always off-road responsibly in approved areas.

3Vehicle must be registered with Uconnect Access and fulfill minimum subscription requirements. Requires the use of a compatible smartphone that supports text messaging and Bluetooth®.

4This system is an alert system for the front of the vehicle. It is not a substitute for active driver involvement. The driver must remain aware of traffic conditions and be prepared to use brakes to avoid collisions.

5Always check visually for vehicles prior to changing lanes.

6Always check entire surroundings visually before backing up.

7Always sit properly in designated seating positions

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How Your Vehicle Protects You from Winter’s Elements

Winter driving is its own peculiar beast, and when it comes to your vehicle, there are three must haves to combat these challenging conditions – traction, clear vision and heat. Luckily, your car is set up to tackle the worst of winter without much more than regular maintenance from you. Here’s how your vehicle helps you stay safe during winter driving.

Creating Traction
Where Rubber Meets the Road
All-important traction on treacherous snow- or ice-covered roads begins with your tires. Tires that are closer to the beginning of their lives still have much of their original deep tread and are going to provide added starting and stopping power. It’s easy to see how much tread your tires have remaining by performing the penny test, or by having your technician check it for you. Tires designated as winter or snow tires will deliver even better traction than all-season tires.

During Braking
Before Anti-Lock Brake Systems (ABS) were invented, new drivers were always taught to pump the brakes instead of pressing down steadily, in the event of a skid on snow or ice. With the debut of ABS, however, just the opposite is true as the ABS does the pumping for you now, and much faster than any human driver can. That makes the ABS an important part of the winter traction equation, and a good reason to ensure your ABS is working properly.

With More Control
ABS and traction control both play important roles in helping you go through snow and other slippery conditions. When one wheel on a front-wheel drive car, for example, begins to slip, the traction control system senses that the wheel is spinning faster than the other one. The system engages the ABS to slow just that one wheel down and stop the slipping. Traction control doesn’t, however, mean you’re going to be able to go through deeper snow or have traction on ice, but just that it helps prevent loss of traction.

Improving Visibility
By Clearing the Windows
On most vehicle rear-window defrosters, thin wires are embedded in the glass. When the defroster is turned on, electrical current flows through these wires, heating them and causing the ice to melt or fog to dry and disappear. On the front window, strategically placed vents direct hot air onto the surface when the defroster is engaged, melting the ice.

You can speed up your defrosting time and reduce the amount of time you spend scraping your window, by using windshield deicer in the washer fluid tank. Not only will it help melt frost on contact while you’re parked in the driveway, but it will also wash away slush and road salt from your front window and help prevent ice from building up on the windshield as you drive.

…And Keeping Them Clear
Most winter weather drivers have experienced the annoyance of frozen wiper blades. Fortunately there are winter blades that encase the wipers’ inner workings in a flexible rubber boot that prevents snow and ice buildup and help the wipers continue delivering a streak-free performance. No one has invented a wiper blade that won’t freeze to a window while the car’s parked however. A new Kickstarter project, anyone?

By Lighting the Way
Headlights dim as they age. It’s probably something you won’t even notice until you install new bulbs and see the difference. New headlight technology makes these lights whiter and brighter, enabling you to see further down the road as well as side-to-side. Headlights also tend to burn out in pairs, so if one headlight burns out, you know the second one won’t be far behind. Save time by replacing both at once.

Generating Heat
By Using Antifreeze
For heat to be delivered reliably throughout your vehicle, the heating and cooling system has to be in top working order and properly maintained, beginning with the coolant or antifreeze. Antifreeze flows through your engine to protect it from freezing and also to transport heat. That’s why it’s important to ensure antifreeze is filled to the proper level. As the antifreeze picks up heat from the engine, it passes through the heater core. When you turn on the heat in the car, air is warmed from the heater core and enters the passenger compartment. If your antifreeze level is low, your heating system won’t function properly.

By Regulating Temperature
When the engine is hot, the thermostat opens to allow coolant or antifreeze to flow to the radiator to dissipate heat. When the engine is just started and cold, the thermostat remains closed, allowing the antifreeze and engine to heat up and provide heat to the passenger compartment. Thermostats can fail if you don’t top up the antifreeze, allowing the cooling system to become corroded.

By Blowing Air
While it seems pretty straightforward – turn or press the switch and air blows faster or slower – the process of delivering heated air to the passenger compartment depends on several moving parts, one of which is the blower motor. The blower motor is responsible for moving the air. If you turn the fan on and nothing happens, it could be the result of a failed blower motor.

Transporting warm air also depends on an air door actuator and blend door functioning properly. This actuator opens or closes the blend door that allows heated or cooled air to circulate through your vehicle’s air ducts. If the actuator isn’t working or the blend door is stuck, the door might remain closed and hot air can’t be delivered.

Both blower motors, blend doors, and door actuators wear out and fail. If you notice a decrease in air flow or strange sounds when you turn on your heating system, it could be a sign of impending failure and should be checked out.

Just a Reminder
Your comfort this winter, and your vehicle reliability, depend in large part on your efforts to ensure the vehicle has been properly maintained and that it’s ready for snow, ice and colder temperatures. Before the snow flies and the temperature drops, check the following:

• Tire tread depth
• ABS and traction control systems
• Age and condition of wiper blades
• Windshield washer/deicer fluid level
• Headlights to ensure they both work – consider replacing older bulbs
• Antifreeze level
• Interior heating and cooling system and fan for function and any strange noises

This preventive maintenance will help ensure your vehicle’s heating systems are working properly, and that you stay warm behind the wheel this winter.

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7 Ways to Prevent Car Accidents

Did you know that over 90 percent of crashes are due to human error?[i] None of us plan on leaving the house, getting behind the wheel, and ending up in a car accident, but they can happen to even the most vigilant of drivers. There are certainly some situations that are unavoidable, no matter what you do. However, there are a few ways that you can limit your exposure to potential harm. Here are seven ways to improve your chances on the road.

Stay alert.

As easy as it is to do, you should never switch to auto pilot while driving. That’s a surefire way to slow your response time and decrease awareness. Keep your attention focused on the road ahead and the vehicles around you so your brain can analyze and prepare for any dangerous situations.

This also means that driving drowsy is a big no-no. Studies have shown that sleepy drivers are twice as likely to cause an accident than non-drowsy ones. Your risk of an accident while driving tired is similar to that when driving while intoxicated.[ii] If your eyelids start drooping, pull off the road and either take a nap or grab some caffeine. Be aware, however, that caffeine takes a while to be effective and it eventually wears off. There’s no substitute for sleep in the long run.

Avoid Distractions.

Eating, using your phone, and spending too much time checking in on children in the back seat are all distractions that make you lose focus on the road ahead. It may feel like you’re losing time if you have to stop to grab lunch, make a call, or sort out your squabbling kids in the back, but it’ll mean that you’ll be a safer driver when you get back on the road.

Though texting while driving isn’t illegal in every state, studies have shown that response times while texting or reading text messages are severely delayed.[iii] If you need to communicate while on the road, make a small investment in a Bluetooth device.

Create a buffer zone.

Leaving space between you and the car ahead allows time for braking should the situation demand it. The general rule of thumb is a car length for every 10 miles an hour. Going 60? Try to keep six car lengths distance between you and the vehicle in front.

This also aids in setting up an escape route. You need to be ready for a dangerous situation to occur anywhere on the road, which means you need to have an empty space to steer into. If the cars in front and behind you are getting uncomfortably close, strategically line up with an empty space to the side. This allows you to have a place to steer your vehicle into.

Keep your hands on the wheel.

It’s easy, especially when driving along boring stretches of road or in stop-and-go traffic, to forget that your hands should be on the steering wheel at all times. How else are you going to avoid potential collisions.

Adapt your driving to weather conditions.

Use proper judgment during bad weather. If your vision is limited by fog, you’ll need extra time to perform emergency maneuvers. When the ground is wet, your tires will take longer to bring you to a stop. Make sure you have more room than usual between you and the car in front.

Communicate with others.

Using your turn signals or hand signals is an easy way to tell other drivers what move you’re planning to make. You can create a dangerous situation by maneuvering your vehicle unexpectedly, so tap your indicators well before you intend on turning or changing lanes – it’s not just safe, it’s good manners too. When merging in front of a big-rig at night, signal and then wait for the driver to flash the headlights in approval. By communicating to other drivers your intention, they can adjust their driving to accommodate you. Waving thanks goes a long way as well.

But don’t depend on them to do the same.

A good defensive driver knows that other drivers can be unpredictable. Watch for erratic driving from the people around you and avoid any vehicle that drifts across lanes, doesn’t signal, or has difficulty maintaining a steady speed.

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