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7 cold-weather car care tips

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Minnesota drivers know it well – that sickening sound of an engine killed by the cold.

It's worth a quick review of some of the tips that will keep your car running as the state weathers some of the worst cold in the last two decades:

1. Keep your gas tank full. Cold and fast-varying temperatures can cause condensation to form on the walls of a gas tank with low gas levels, and that water can drip into the gas, HowStuffWorks notes. The water can ultimately sink to the bottom of the tank and find its way into the fuel lines – and possibly freeze, blocking gas flow.

2. Get your anti-freeze right. Anti-freeze protects your engine from freezing and helps reduce corrosion, HowStuffWorks notes. It's important to keep equal parts anti-freeze and water in your radiator – a 50:50 ratio is considered the norm and will keep fluids from freezing at temperatures as low as -34 degrees Fahrenheit, the site notes.

3. Bring in your battery. Really? Bringing your battery in the house is one way to help assure it will start, notes FOX 9, in its cold-weather car care tips list. "Three to five years is about the average age for a battery to fail in this climate, and that's the number one thing," Dmitry Zelenskiy, of AAA, told FOX.

4. Use a block heater. These small electrical device plugs into a wall and can keep your engine, battery and oil warm. Prices can vary from as little as $36 to over $1,000, the Detroit News notes.

5. Buy the right windshield wiper fluid. Splurge a little on a "winter blend" that has more alcohol and less water, which will be less likely to freeze, the Chicago Tribune notes.

6. Properly inflate tires. Tire pressure greatly affects handling in snow and ice. A temperature change of just 10 degrees can cause a 10 percent constriction of air pressure, the Tribune notes.

7. Be ready for an emergency. Stock up your car with a winter survival kit. Minnesota safety officials have a "Winter Survival in Your Car" document listing what to have handy – and what to do if you get stranded.

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