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It has started to get dark at 5pm, football season is in full swing, and grocery stores are stocking egg nog—winter is officially here. Along with the season comes a slew of indulgent holiday parties, massive family get-togethers and frantic shopping trips. When prepping for end-of-the-year madness, one thing that often gets overlooked is winterizing our cars. Just like we need a warm coat, gloves and a scarf, when the weather turns brisk, our cars need extra gear to ensure they can handle the icy conditions and freezing temperatures too. Here are a few things you can do to ready your car for winter, punch up its performance and keep yourself warm, dry and safe when on the road:

Stock your car with winter-worthy gear

You should already be riding with life-saving tools like extra quarts of engine oil, a first aid kit and flares. But when the weather gets chilly, it's smart to add some extra gear to your safety toolkit to help combat the cold. Include a snow brush or ice scraper to clear your windshield, a small shovel to help dig your way out if you get stuck in the snow, an extra hoodie for warmth, and a small container of salt, sand or kitty litter to provide traction when if you get stuck on ice.

Swap out wimpy wiper blades

When driving in sleet, rain and snow, *seeing* the road can be half the battle. To ensure the best visibility, upgrade your blades with a set that are made especially for winter conditions. These blades boast a thick rubber coating which clears ice, snow and sludge from the windshield more effectively than standard blades. What's more, the rubber coating protects any parts from freezing in the cold.

Check your battery

When temps hit the freezing point, batteries can lose up to 35% of their juice. If you're rolling around with an already weak battery, cold weather can leave you susceptible to getting stuck. (And a dead battery means you're not only unable to start the car, but you're stranded with no heater too! Brrr!) Unless your battery is brand new, it's best to have it tested by a mechanic to ensure it has enough muscle to get you through the next few months.

Change Your Oil

Come winter, some cars need to run on a different weight of oil than they do in warmer months. Even if your car doesn't need an oil change for another 1,000 miles, it's best to suck it up, pay the extra cash and get an oil change using the type of oil it needs in winter—your engine will run better if you're feeding it with the right kind of oil.

Trick out your Tires

Driving in snow dulls the tread on your tires. If you live in a snowy place, or plan to drive to the mountains, invest in snow tires or a set of chains to protect tires from slippage. Even if you won't be driving in the snow this winter, pay extra attention to your tires. Cold weather naturally decreases the air pressure in your tires (and driving on low tires makes your engine work harder and eats up more gas). So, make sure to check the psi every two to four weeks, no matter how freakin' cold it is out there.

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