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Seven steps to storing your ride for the winter

Protect your car this winter with these seven steps

Jessica Hill/AP Photo

I bought a beater – an old Neon – for winter use and will be storing my new-to-me toy – a Chrysler Crossfire coupe – during that time. What precautions should I take? – Ernest

The big things to worry about are moisture, tires and the battery.

Before placing the Crossfire in storage, give it a good cleaning, including the wheels to remove corrosive brake dust. Have the oil and filter changed, put fuel stabilizer in the tank and top it up. Take the Crossfire for a drive – 15 minutes at least to get the stabilizer circulated through the fuel delivery system and all fluids and operating parts up to temperature, boiling off any nasty condensation or contaminants.

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Moisture : Unless you have access to heated, humidity-controlled storage, you will need to prevent condensation from forming on critical electronic and other components. Place packages of desiccant under the hood, in the truck and interior.

Tires : Fill them to the maximum recommended pressure to help prevent flat-spotting.

Battery: With all the electronics in a modern vehicle, I suggest you leave the battery in and purchase a battery minder or tender. Instead of constantly applying a tiny charge as a "trickle" charger does, which shortens battery life, "minders" or "tenders" read the state of charge and apply power only when necessary. They are available at Canadian Tire and other auto parts outlets.

Do Not : Set the parking brake. That could lead to the pads and disc or drum surfaces becoming stuck together over the winter. Avoid the old practice of starting and running the engine for a few minutes periodically – that will create harmful condensation within the oil pan and exhaust systems.

Critters : Stuff something into the exhaust outlets to prevent little critters from taking up residence during the cold months. I've also had success in keeping them at bay by scattering scented dryer sheets around the underside of the vehicle.

Cover It Up : Cover the car to keep dust and dirt away and maybe a few scratches if it is to be stored in proximity to other items or traffic.

Insurance: Call your insurance provider to see if there is any reduction for the vehicle being off the road for several months.

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This is my third Jeep, a Cherokee, a 2002 Liberty and now my current 2006 Liberty. My problem is the headlights. I think there was a problem with the '02 lights [can't remember for sure] and there certainly is a problem with the '06 headlights. When I first got the Jeep I felt like I didn't have any lights on at night, so I now drive with all the lights on, fog lamps included. Are you aware of Jeep headlights being understrength? What can I do to make my night driving safer? It would seem logical that this type of vehicle would have strong lighting, but this isn't the case.I know I'm getting older, but my eyesight is still pretty good. I sometimes have to struggle to see while driving at night. Any remarks, suggestions, or ideas would be appreciated, except for getting rid of the Jeep, as I cannot afford it. – Doug in Cobourg, Ont.

I suspect there is nothing wrong with the lights other than they are the older halogen design.

Other than going to the considerable expense of having them converted to a bi-xenon or High Intensity Discharge [HID] system, I suggest you try a set of brighter DOT-approved bulbs made by recognized companies like GE and Sylvania. Avoid aftermarket bulbs without the DOT [Department of Transport] label.

The limiting factor here is the reflector in your headlight – exceeding the amount of light provided by DOT-approved bulbs will result in considerable scatter and blinding oncoming motorists.

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