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Photos: Ten ways to make your car winter-ready -- and avoid killing yourself or someone else

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Number 4: Verify floor mat installation to prevent pedal interference Incorrect or improperly installed floor mats in your vehicle may interfere with the operation of the accelerator or brake pedal, increasing the risk of a crash. Remember these tips when installing new floor mats to ensure safe operation of your vehicle:

Remove old mats before the installation of new mats.

Never stack mats, as that may increase the potential for pedal interference.

Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for mat installation and use the available retention clips to secure the mat in the proper position. This will prevent the mat from sliding forward.

Check that the mats are the correct size and fit for the vehicle and do not interfere with the full operation of the foot controls (accelerator, brake and clutch pedals). Whenever the interior of the vehicle is cleaned or the mats have been removed for any reason, verify that the driver's mat has been reinstalled correctly.

Number 3: Check your cooling system When coolant freezes it expands. This expansion can potentially damage your vehicle's engine block. Don't let this happen to your vehicle this winter. You should:

Make sure you have enough coolant in your vehicle and that it's designed to withstand the winter temperatures you might experience in your area.

See your vehicle owner's manual for specific recommendations on coolant. A 50/50 mix of coolant to water is sufficient to avoid freezing in most regions of the country.

Thoroughly check the cooling system for leaks or have your mechanic do it for you.

Check to see if your coolant has been replaced by draining the system and replacing the coolant at the manufacturer's recommended interval. If it hasn't been changed for several years, have it done now. Over time, the rust inhibitors in antifreeze break down and become ineffective.

Coolant also needs to be refreshed periodically to remove dirt and rust particles, which can clog the cooling system and cause it to fail.

Have the coolant tested for proper mix, proper pH (acidity) and strength of the built-in corrosion inhibitors.

Continue to keep counting down the ten ways to make your car winter-ready -- and avoid killing yourself or someone else.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts