Treacherous road conditions are not the only things that add to a driver’s woes during winter.

When temperatures dip well below the freezing level, as they have across Canada in the last few weeks, car trouble might hit you even before you take to the road. Vehicle freeze-ups are quite common during the peak of winter, especially in older cars. CAA South Central Ontario offers the following tips to protect your vehicle against winter freeze-ups.

• Starting your car takes energy so ensure all vehicle accessories are turned off such as the heater, defroster, lights, wipers and radio.

• Turn the ignition to the start position and crank the engine for no more than five to 10 seconds. Do not pump the accelerator.

• If the car doesn’t start in 10 seconds, return key to off position. Wait 30 seconds between attempts to prevent possible damage and try again. If the car refuses to start, there may be a battery or mechanical trouble. Call CAA or an auto mechanic if needed.

• You really only need to warm up the car for one to two minutes. Avoid hard acceleration in the first few minutes of start-up to give a chance for fluids to lubricate through the engine. Unnecessary idling wastes gasoline and increases pollution.

• For safety reasons, never warm a car in a garage whether closed or open. Carbon monoxide exhaust fumes could be lethal.

• If you have an automatic car starter, be extra cautious that you don’t accidentally activate it when your car is parked in the garage.

• Keep your gas tank at least half full, otherwise ice crystals can form and freeze your gas line.

• Park your car where the sun will hit in the morning to help the snow and frost or inside a garage where it's warmer.

• To protect your car from freeze-up change to a winter-grade oil and gasoline. Consult your owner’s manual. It contains everything you need to know about starting your make of vehicle in the winter.

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