EAST SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Winter will be here before you know it, and the time to prepare your vehicle is now.

Get your vehicle ready

Todd Ingraham, Fleet Operations Manager at AAA, says that you should have your car’s battery and charging system checked to make sure there are no issues so your car can start and heat up properly during the cold weather.

Another key thing is to be sure your tires are in good shape. Ingraham tells us to “make sure they have good tread depth, make sure the alignment is good. If there is any uneven wear, it could point to a problem with alignment or suspension issues.”

While preparing the actual mechanics of your vehicle, it’s also recommended that you carry some essential items with you while traveling.

Ingraham showed us an emergency road kit filled with items like jumper cables, duct tape, a basic toolkit, and a blanket to keep you warm. In addition to these items, it’s also a good idea to have an extra hat and pair of gloves, snacks, water, and of course a snow brush.

You may also want to consider having kitty litter, rock salt, or sand with you. “You might be able to put [these] underneath your tires if you’re in a parking lot or something to help you gain traction to get you out,” Ingraham said.

Get ready to drive in winter weather

Once you have prepared your vehicle for another Central New York winter and you are actually out driving in the elements, Ingraham has some recommendations for traveling in hazardous conditions.

“You definitely want to watch your speed. You’re not going to be able to do the speed limit. You want to make sure when you accelerate, do it easily. You don’t want to decelerate quickly. The road conditions can change at the drop of a hat,” Ingraham said.

AAA says that a car driving at just 30 miles per hour on a dry road needs over 100 feet to come to a stop. On a football field, imagine that from the end zone to about the 30-yard line. In wet, snowy, or icy conditions, they say this figure needs to be multiplied by 3 to as much as 12 times. At a minimum, that’s about the entire length of the football field.

Even though Ingraham says we don’t like to think about it, if you do get stuck or go off the road, you should stay put and not get out of the vehicle. “If the roads are bad, other motorists might not be able to see you or they may lose control of their vehicle and cause more cars to go off the road,” Ingraham advised. He also says you may want to roll down your window to keep air circulating in case the exhaust system gets plugged.

As the colder and snowier weather nears, even though you may have your own preference about when to get gas, Ingraham recommends not letting your tank get below a quarter full during the winter.