JOPLIN, Mo. — With the possibility of the first snowfall this season just around the corner, vehicle maintenance experts say now is the best time to prepare your car. There’s no getting around winter, so instead of dreading it, prepare for it by checking out what your car needs, in order to gear up for cold, wet, winter driving conditions.

Vehicle mechanics agree that it’s best to winterize your car before the first flake falls, because small problems that may have been ignored during warmer months could grow worse, leaving you stranded when the temperature plummets. Here’s a few tips that will help keep your car running all winter long:

Take your car to a mechanic and have them check the following: battery, antifreeze level, thermostat, heater, brakes, and defroster.Make sure your tires have adequate tread. If the treads are worn, replace them. Ideally, you should look at snow tires which have treads that provide better traction and are equipped to handle extreme winter driving conditions.Inspect your vehicle’s lights. Make sure the front and rear lights are working properly, especially the flashing hazard lights.It’s possible that your windshield wiper fluid may freeze at some point during the winter months, so instead of toughing it out until spring, exchange the fluid with one made especially for freezing, or below freezing conditions.Speaking of windshield wipers, it’s a good idea to purchase winter wiper blades. They’re made to cut through snow and ice instead of using the regular blades all year long.Check the spray nozzles of your windshield-washer system. Sometimes, they get blocked by build up and debris. You can use a needle or pin to clear blocked nozzles.Road salt commonly used during the winter months can damage your car’s paint. Rinsing it off every once in a while can help, but a good wash and a coat of fresh wax will go a long way in preventing corrosion — keeping your vehicle looking like new.

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It’s also a good rule of thumb to keep a box of emergency supplies in the trunk in case of an emergency. Extra clothing, blankets, non-perishable food, water, and a phone charger can make a big difference. You’ll find an extensive list, HERE of everything that vehicle mechanics suggest you do, so that your car is ready to go for the worst winter weather.