Not out of winter's woods yet

Car maintenance still important

— More motorists need roadside assistance in February than any other month of the winter season, according to AAA Colorado.

"It's easy to get a false sense of security in Colorado since we have passed a large portion of the season in which we see snowfall and cold temperatures on a regular basis," said Rob Wunsch, AAA Colorado's director of Roadside Services, in a press release. "However, we get more roadside assistance requests in February than any other time during winter. Motorists should prepare their vehicles for ongoing winter driving conditions, so they can avoid needing roadside assistance."

The top four most common reasons for roadside assistance requests to AAA Colorado:

• Tow truck service

• Locksmith (motorists locked out of their vehicle)

• Battery jump starts

• Tire changes

A checklist to help motorists prepare their vehicles for the rest of the winter season:

Check the battery

Cold weather is hard on batteries. At a comparatively mild 32 degrees, a battery is 35 percent weaker than at warmer temperatures. At zero degrees, a car's battery loses approximately 60 percent of its strength. A battery load test performed by a qualified technician will determine a battery's strength for the remainder of the winter.

Check the tires

Tires should always be inflated to their specified poundage and have enough tread to handle all road conditions. To check tire tread, look for the "wear bar" that periodically runs across the hollow of each tread. If the tread has been worn down to the same height as the wear bar, it's time for new tires.

Check windshield

wipers, fluid, defroster

Driving with a wet, snow- or ice-covered windshield invites a crash. Make sure wipers and the defroster are in good working order. Verify that windshield washer fluid reservoirs are filled with no-freeze washer fluid.

Prepare for emergency

Sometimes, no matter how well a vehicle is maintained, roadside assistance still is required.

Motorists should prepare in advance in case they are stranded. Have a cell phone, including extra batteries, with contact numbers for roadside assistance and emergency service providers.

Keep an emergency car kit in the trunk with jumper cables, general first aid kit, tire chains, blanket, extra set of clothes, non-clumping kitty litter for traction, flares or reflective triangles, a flashlight with extra batteries, gallon jug of water, non-perishable food items, window washer solvent, ice scraper, snow brush and shovel.

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