Motor vehicle maintenance and safety continue to be an installation emphasis as the fall and winter seasons near.

The Kawamura Arts and Crafts Center Auto Skills Shop offers numerous steps people can take in preparing their vehicle for the upcoming seasons.

"You always want to do preventive maintenance," said Andy Toler, center director. "That's the key to not be stranded on the highway."

There are several things motorist can do to prepare for the decline in temperature.

Motorist should periodically check their car oil to ensure that it doesn't become thick, which hinders engine lubrication.

It is also important to check tire pressure which has a tendency to decrease when the temperature drops. Properly inflated tires provide better traction on roads.

Toler said people should also check for wear and tear on car belts and hoses, which could damage a vehicle and cause fluid leaks.

The auto shop also highly recommends preparing a winter emergency kit, to include items such as blankets, an extra set of warm clothes, non-perishable water and food items, an ice scraper, flashlight, flares and jumper cables.

There are a number of additional precautionary steps people can take.

Toler said people can contact the shop for further information.

In addition to car maintenance, Bridget Smalls, Safety Office safety specialist, said there are a number of things people can do to maintain safety while driving in the upcoming months.

Smalls urges drivers to be extremely cautious when driving near big piles of leaves because children have the tendency to play in the piles.

She also recommended avoiding driving over fallen leaves because they can cover up pot holes and can be slippery when wet.

"You want to be aware of your surroundings," Smalls said.

Drivers also should be aware of leaves on windshield wipers, which could obstruct their views.

The fall also brings daylight savings time, which returns Nov. 6 at 2 a.m., local time.

Smalls recommends people stay attentive and cautious during the earlier nights.

"You have quite a few people that are out…walking their dog or something at that time," Smalls said.
In the winter, Smalls recommends paying close attention for black ice on the roads.

It's also important to maintain a reasonable driving distance between cars because ice, snow and sleet make for longer braking distances.

The fall and winter seasons also bring about frequent changes in the weather.

Smalls said to pay attention to weather reports to be informed of what's going on in the area. She also said to call the Fort Belvoir Information Hotline at (703) 805-3030 for updates on road conditions on the installation.

Susan Roeder, Safety Office director, noted that this time of year also means schools are back in session.

Roeder said children are less likely to understand the dangers of motor vehicles. Drivers should keep this in mind as they move through the installation.

"Small children have a tendency to dart out in front of moving vehicles without looking. Be cautious especially in and around our neighborhood areas," Roeder said.

Smalls emphasizes that pedestrians should also maintain safety when walking on roads during this time of year.

Pedestrians should wear bright reflective clothing and the proper walking or jogging attire.

Contact the Auto Shop at (703) 806-4088 for more information on preventive car maintenance during the fall and winter seasons.