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It's time to outfit your car with all it needs for winter's grip

Be prepared! With winter just around the corner, it's time for motorists to get ready for the cold months ahead. Besides the usual antifreeze check, battery test, and snow tires, make sure youm are prepared for snow emergencies.

Trunk essentials include:

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* Small carton of sand (which also adds weight for better traction).

* "Space blanket" (made of metal-backed Mylar, which reflects the body's natural warmth and can be folded to pocket size).

* Old but warm coat/blanket. The American Automobile Association suggests several uses for these: for warmth if a motorist gets temporarily stranded, for protection against snow or rain should he or she have to get out of the car, or to lay on the ground when changing a flat tire or put under car wheels for extra traction.

* Windshield deicer with scraper attachment, spray solution to unfreeze locks , windshield scraper with brush, extra windshield washing fluid (containing an antifreeze agent), extra rubber inserts for wipers, and a supply of antifreeze.

* Extra fan belt.

* Rubber boots and extra warm socks and gloves, and a small foldaway umbrella and shovel (available in many department stores).

* Flares and matches, plus a flashlight and extra batteries.

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* Spare snow tire, tool kit, battery jumper cables, and auto manual.

* Extra fuses (especially should headlights go out).

* Metal mesh strips to aid you in getting your car out of slippery road conditions.

* Can of spray wire-drying agent to use if your automobile won't start because of too much moisture under the hood.

* Good-size length of heavy rope, should towing be necessary. (Remember that the "driver" of a car being towed is sitting in an unheated vehicle; therefore, extra warm clothing in the trunk of the car comes in handy for unexpected breakdowns.)

* Prepackaged, freeze-dried foods; thermos of hot soup (for long trips).

* Extra cash or blank check to cover unexpected costs, such as towing, tire patching, alternative transportation, and the like.

You can decide what you need to carry, depending on your particular needs, trunk size, and the amount of winter driving that you do.

Cold weather can aggravate mechanical difficulties. For example, an old, almost-worn-out battery could run indefinitely in warm weather, but one night of freezing temperatures could put it out of commission.

Aloing with winterizing and tunign up your car, membership in an automobile association specializing in road service can be invaluable when cold, wet weather arrives. If the mechanic answering your request for help cannot fix the problem on teh spot, most such associations provide towing for disabled autos to the nearest service station for no, or a minimum, charge.

A motorist carrying some or all of these trunk supplies may never need all of them, but when the first snow falls he can at least breathe a sigh of relief if he knows that he, too, is prepared for rain, snow, sleet, or hail.

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