It’s getting to that time of year when, in a matter of minutes, mother nature can make traveling on Iowa’s roads extremely dangerous. Joe Spann, who runs a car care center in Des Moines, say now is the time to prepare your vehicle for winter. One of the more important factors in managing a snow covered road is a good set of tires.

“You want to make sure you got a lot of good tread for traction in inclement weather,” Spann says, “and this would be the time on some of the more lower profile vehicles to put snow tires on.” A lot of motorists put off prepping their vehicle and are frustrated when that first snowstorm hits.

Spann says you should make sure your windshield wipers are in good shape, “I know that’s one of the last things that people seem think about, but when we get that first snowfall, they turn on their wipers and it just makes a mess of their windshield.” A simple tune-up now can save a motorist a lot of headaches later on this winter.

Spann says a complete check of the vehicle’s hoses, belts, brakes, and fluids might help you avoid a breakdown in a storm. He says a car’s battery should be tested, especially if it’s more than four years old. Spann says the battery, regardless of brand, needs to be compatible with the vehicle and powerful enough to take care of all the electrical components used to start the vehicle.

The Iowa DOT also suggests motorists pack their vehicles with a winter survival kit, in case they become stranded. The kit should include blankets, nonperishable food, water, a flashlight with extra batteries, gloves and a stocking hat, insulated footwear, a first aid kit, a shovel, a snow scraper, flares, sand of strips of carpet for traction, jumper cables, a good spare tire, lug wrench and jack.

Audio: Radio Iowa’s Pat Curtis reports. 47 MP3