SYRACUSE, N.Y. --- It's the time of year to winterize your fleet vehicles, and AAA has some tips on what steps to take. For starters, AAA recommends that you have each vehicle inspected thoroughly to ensure that tires are properly inflated, fluid levels are full, front and rear lights are operating, and belts and hoses are in good condition. Also, check the battery. The most common cause of cold-weather breakdowns is a weak or dead battery. Good indicators that a battery is weak and may need replacement include a starter motor that cranks the engine slowly when the ignition key is turned or headlights that dim noticeably when the engine speed drops to idle, AAA said. As a safety precaution, equip each vehicle with a winter driving kit that includes a fully charged cellular phone, flashlight with fresh batteries, small snow shovel and brush, traction mats, ice scraper, booster cables, blanket, flares or triangle warning devices, heavy gloves, window washing solvent, and a first aid kit. Before motorists drive long distances, they need to check the weather conditions along their route. Visibility is reduced and the road surface is often degraded during the winter months. As a result, motorists need to adjust driving patterns to fit the season. They can increase their safety by doing the following: ** Improve visibility by turning on headlights in the late afternoon before the sun begins to set. Always use low-beam headlights in fog, rain or snow. ** Be sure to signal your intention to turn well before doing so. ** Clear all snow and ice from windows, the roof, the hood, the trunk, mirrors, lights and signals. ** Observe all speed limits and reduce speed whenever road conditions or visibility are compromised by inclement weather. ** Avoid sudden starts, stops and hard turns --- especially when roads are slippery or wet. Don't brake hard. Use the proper braking technique for the vehicle you drive. Cars with anti-lock brakes require a steady gradual application of pressure to the brake pedal. Cars without anti-lock brakes may need firm pressure on the brake pedal just short of wheel lock up, and then easing off the brake slightly before reapplying pressure. ** Anticipate potential danger on the road such as icy bridges, snow covered lane markings, or stalled cars. Decrease speed, increase distance between the vehicle in front of you, or change lanes to avoid trouble.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials