Weekly auto rail, with winter car tips, Car Q&A with Junior Damato and more.

Tip of the Week

As cooler temperatures arrive, so does the opportunity to prepare your vehicles for winter driving conditions. Although you may not want to think the warm weather is behind you, taking time now to prepare and protect vehicles can save significant time, money and hassle later. A few tips for vehicle winterization and safe travels this season:

- Clear vision: Having full view of what's ahead and behind your vehicle at all times is vital, so be sure to check your windshield wiper blades and washer fluid before winter precipitation hits. For colder climates where you may experience ice or frost, you may want to keep a bottle of de-icing windshield spray handy.

- Auto armor: Did you know that within 30 days, a small scratch or nick in a vehicle's paint finish can rust? Add some freezing temperatures and a small problem can quickly escalate to a larger, more expensive one. Luckily, fixing scratches is quick, easy and affordable, thanks to touch-up paint.

- Tired out: One of the most important aspects of winterization is ensuring you have a safe grip on the road. Like the soles of shoes that prevent you from slipping, quality tires help keep your vehicle securely on the road, especially in slippery rain or snow conditions.

- Engine protection: Extreme temperatures can cause major issues in a vehicle's engine, so testing your coolant system before winter is very important. Checking the level and concentration of anti-freeze in your vehicle could save you costly engine repair and should be done twice every year. Choose an extended life coolant for ultimate protection, which can be used in nearly any year, make or model vehicle worldwide.

- ARA

The List

Here are the top cars in the “large car” segment, according to an annual rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

- Buick LaCrosse, 2010-11 models
- Buick Regal, 2011 models
- BMW 5 series, 2011 models
- Cadillac CTS sedan, 2011 models
- Ford Taurus, 2010-11 models
- Hyundai Genesis, built after January 2010
- Infiniti M37/M56, 2011 models (except M56x 4-wheel drive)
- Lincoln MKS, 2010-11 models
- Mercedes E class, 2010-11 models built after April 2010
- Toyota Avalon, 2011 models
- Volvo S80, 2010-11 models

Did You Know

Hyundai is recalling about 140,000 Sonatas because of steering issues. If you own a Sonata that was built in 2009 or 2010, contact your local dealer.

Car Q&A

Q: I own a 1998 Honda Accord that occasionally blows a 20-amp fuse that controls the automatic shift interlock, brake lights and horn.

A: The 20 amp fuse you mention does control the shift interlock, horn and brake lights. You have to check to see where the short circuit is. I have seen rear brake light bulbs and the brake light wire harness that is in the trunk cause shorts. I have yet to see a faulty shift interlock. If the problem was horn related it would blow the fuse when the horn pad is depressed.

- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist

GateHouse News Service