HOUSTON - With temperatures dropping across the nation, drivers should prepare their vehicles for winter commutes and holiday road trips. Jiffy Lube® offers these car-care tips for motorists to help them steer clear of road-side breakdowns and costly repairs.

Fluids: Motor oil reduces friction between your engine's moving parts and removes harmful dirt and contaminants. Generally, use the lightest grade of oil your vehicle's manufacturer recommends for the conditions in which you drive. In winter, this may mean an even lighter grade than usual.

Antifreeze and coolant can help keep the engine from freezing. Check your vehicle owner's manual for time and mileage recommendations for when it should be replaced, along with those for differential fluid and transmission fluid.

Engine Air Filter: This filter cleans the air the engine mixes and combusts with fuel. A filter clogged with dirt and debris can make the engine strain to pull clean air into the cylinders, which can reduce fuel economy. Inspect and change the air filter according to your vehicle manufacturer's recommendations.

Battery: A weak battery is less reliable and can take longer to start your car on cold mornings. It can lose about one third of its power at 32 F and more at lower temperatures. Have the battery tested to ensure it has ample power to withstand the cold. Start the car with the heater, lights and window defrosters turned off in order to minimize battery strain.

Tires: Make sure tires are properly inflated and have adequate tread depth for good traction on icy roads. Properly inflated tires cushion the impact of potholes on wheel rims and lessen the chance of wheel alignment damage from potholes. Correct tire pressure information is found on a decal typically in the vehicle's door jamb or in the vehicle owner's manual - not on the tire itself.

Windshield Wiper Blades and Washer Fluid: Normal life expectancy for many windshield wiper blades is six to 12 months. They should glide smoothly across the windshield without leaving streaks or blind spots. Pits on the edge touching the glass means it's probably time for new ones. Windshield washer fluid clears ice, road salt and dirt out of your field of vision. Inspect the reservoir and add more if it is low.

Emergency Kit: A well-stocked emergency kit is essential in winter. Make sure it contains a flashlight, extra batteries, water, flares, blankets, a shovel, a snowbrush, an ice scraper and tire chains, where they are allowed by law. Kitty litter or sand can be spread under tires to get better traction when starting from an ice patch or in the snow.

Jiffy Lube®, with more than 2,200 service centers in North America, serves approximately 27.5 million customers each year. Jiffy Lube® pioneered the fast oil change industry in 1979 by establishing the first drive-through service bay, providing customers with fast professional service for their vehicles. Headquartered in Houston, Jiffy Lube®® International is a wholly owned, indirect subsidiary of Shell Oil Company. Visit www.jiffylube.com to learn more about Jiffy Lube® and vehicle care.