32075799_MBenjamin Franklin – scientist, diplomat and writer who helped draft the Declaration of Independence – once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” While we’re sure the statesman had something lofty in mind when he uttered those words, his advice is applicable to many things in life, from retirement and college exams to job interviews and even winter-weather emergencies.

Few people forget to prepare their homes for the onslaught of winter’s chill, but making sure your car’s ready for freezing temperatures is another matter entirely. Driving can quickly become in bad weather, so you’d best prepare your vehicle before winter weather arrives. Here are four tasks you can’t forget:

  • Get those brakes checked. The braking system is your vehicle’s most important safety feature, so don’t wait to get new brakes or pads if you need them. (Bonus tip: Contrary to popular belief, most newer car models come with anti-lock brakes and should never be pumped.)
  • Inspect your tires. Even with half their tread intact, tires can lose a significant amount of grip – which is especially dangerous when driving on snow- and ice-covered roadways. Check your tire pressure weekly and consider snow tires if you live in an area that gets a lot of winter precipitation.
  • Stock up on antifreeze. Running low on antifreeze increases the risk of your engine overheating. Buy a tester at your local auto parts store and make sure you’re using the proper mix of antifreeze and water.
  • Keep plenty of gas in the tank. A fuller gas tank reduces the chances of condensation building – and possibly freezing – in the gas line.

In addition, don’t forget to stock your car with cold-weather essentials such as a cell-phone charger, food, water, jumper cables and extra blankets. In case you slide off the road and get stuck in a snow bank, these emergency items can help tide you over until help arrives. Better to be safe than sorry, wouldn’t you agree?