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      Being prepared is crucial for winter driving safety

      Cold weather can wreak havoc on your car, so experts advise drivers to be prepared.

      Auto repair technicians said it is better to be proactive than reactive.

      The phones have been ringing off the hook at many towing companies. Auto repair shops are busy, too.

      â??Be patient,â?? said Ron Bryan, manager of Total Transmission in Traverse City. â??Those facilities will be able to get to your vehicle. It's just going to take some time. Just like if you go in the ditch, there may be 20 calls before you for the tow company.â??

      â??We get there as quick as we can, but we've got all these calls lined up, we can't just skip them,â?? confirmed Francisca Zablocki, dispatcher for Ward Eaton Tow.

      Shops see many people coming in once the weather changes.

      â??My battery died last night,â?? said Chris Patterson of Traverse City. â??I had to jump my car this morning.â??

      â??A lot of peopleâ?| may be caught off guard or sort of don't think about it until it happens. They would probably be better off if they were a little more proactive,â?? said Bryan. â??It not only puts yourself in danger who's driving the vehicle. It puts everybody else in danger around you. Make sure you have good tires on your vehicle.:

      Another way to be proactive is to get your battery checked. You may have to schedule an appointment, but most places will do the check free of charge.

      â??You can go to just about any auto repair facility. They can test your battery and test it and your charging system, make sure that it's working properly,â?? added Bryan.

      If you do run into a problem and need help, make sure you wait in your vehicle until the truck shows up.

      There are ways to stay warm, even if the heat won't run, you just have to be prepared.

      â??I keep a candle in a coffee can in my truck. You'd be surprised how much heat a candle will put off,â?? said Patterson.

      One tow truck driver said things get busy this time of year, which means you can expect delays.

      â??Just try your hardest to stay bundled up,â?? said Kyle Trowbridge, driver for Ward Eaton Tow. â??We'll try to get there as fast as possible.â??