Winter driving on roads in Northern California can be a pleasant adventure but it also can create a number of challenges to you and your car if you are not prepared. Cold weather can test the limits of your car’s mechanical ability and treacherous driving conditions can test your ability as a driver.

There are some auto maintenance jobs and safety checks that are specific to chilled air and winter driving. So to be sure your budget doesn’t end up on ice this season – thanks to unexpected auto repairs, have your trusted local mechanic look under the hood to be sure things are in top shape. As with any change of season, you should go to your regular maintenance log to make sure your car is up-to-date on the maintenance items that should be taken care of throughout the year. The change of season is an ideal time to go through some once-a-year or twice-a-year auto maintenance tasks.

Here are some great winter driving tips to get your car Winterized:

Inspect your oil: This should be done at least monthly. But in case you suffer from amnesia…it is advised to get an oil change as well.

Inspect your brakes:  Brakes are not a good area to cut corners. Be sure your brakes have enough meat left on them to get you through the season.

Inspect your tires: Winter is not the time to get cheap about your tires, so take the time to check the tread depth. The old penny test is as reliable as anything to find out whether your treads are ready for winter action. Also, be sure to check your tire pressure. Believe it or not, they lose a little pressure when it gets cold.

Inspect your battery: The cold weather can dramatically reduce a battery’s available starting power, so have the vehicle’s starting and charging system tested every three months or during every oil change.

Inspect your spark plugs: Cracked up plug wires affect performance, gas mileage and general reliability. Be sure yours are in top shape.

Inspect your antifreeze: This is the juice that goes in your radiator and is an essential part or your car’s winter protection. You did remember to perform a radiator flush last spring, didn’t you?

Inspect your wipers: How many times have you experienced a windshield that is smeared with insects, bird droppings, road tar or other messy deposits? Removing them with worn wiper blades is nearly impossible. Usually, you wind up smearing the mess and obscuring your vision even more. If you change your blades regularly, you can avoid these problems and keep your eyes on the road.

Inspect your washer fluid: You’ll be using lots of washer fluid as you try to keep your windshield sparkly. Tip: Don’t fill your washer fluid reservoir with anything except washer fluid, it won’t freeze!

Regardless of your driving skill or vehicle preparation, there are some winter conditions that can’t be conquered. But hopefully these tips may help prevent  icy and wet roads from ruining your day.