Be prepared when winter weather hits (Flickr)
Much of the country is experiencing arctic weather conditions the likes of which haven't been seen in decades. Cold can damage your car, drain batteries, freeze fuel lines and even crack engine blocks. Those living in parts of the country not use to such conditions may not know how to handle the freezing temperatures.

AAA and AOL Autos have a few suggestion for keeping your car running in the cold:

- Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid frozen gas lines.

- Check your battery. Severe cold can drain older car batteries. If the battery is dead you'll need a jump to get back on the road.

- Make sure you have the proper amount of antifreeze. Too much water or too little antifreeze can lead to a crack in your engine block.

- Avoid using the parking brake if you can. It can freeze in the on position, leaving you stranded.

- Doors or locks frozen shut? Use a de-icer or some form of heat to loosen frozen doors. Don't combine the two, as de-icer is flammable. Hot water is not a good option as it can quickly refreeze in such harsh cold temperatures, making the problem worse. If you have a manual lock try running your key through a lighter's flame a few times to warm up the lock.

-Warm up your vehicle, aiming for at least five minutes to get the oil moving through the engine. Be sure to open the garage and clear the tailpipe of snow or mud before heating up a vehicle to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

-Keep a winter survival kit in your car in case of emergencies. Always keep a fully charged cell phone or even spare car charger with you, as well as abrasive materials such as sand or kitty litter or traction mats for when you're stuck in the snow.



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