Keep your sleigh running smooth this holiday season

ABILENE, Texas - A few simple winter car care tips can be the difference between a stranded vehicle and a worry-free winter.

One of the best things to do is to make sure your car has the proper coolant levels.

The coolant reservoir in your vehicle should be about half full. Any less than that and you may want to take your car into a service shop to check for coolant leaks.

When you're driving around, watch for these signs that your coolant is low: overheating or engine temperatures slightly above normal, difficulty starting, or just taking a long time to heat up.

Oil levels are important too. Make sure you're current on oil changes because thicker, older oil can wear your battery down.

Do a visual check of your battery. Doug Norton with Tom's Tire Pros has this advice: "check for corrosion, you'll see the leaks on the side of the battery or if the terminal has white or blue powder on it, definitely take that in because it's probably ready to fail".

Before it gets too cold, check your tires to ensure proper tread depth and inflation.

Use a quarter to check the tread depth. Turn it upside down and place it in the center of the tire tread. If you can see Washington's head, it's time to start thinking about replacing them.

"Inflation is very important, if they're drastically over-inflated it's going to reduce your contact patch," says Norton.

Conversely, under-inflation can cause a blowout when the tire heats up and expands.

Norton also suggests inflating your tire with nitrogen. The molecule is larger than oxygen and regulates the tire pressure.

When the temperature drops quickly, you can expect a five to eight pound drop in your pressure. With nitrogen, that drop is only about two pounds.

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