MINNETRISTA, Minn. (WCCO) — With our first taste of real cold headed our way this weekend, you might want to get prepared with a winter checklist.

Heating systems and vehicles are more prone to breakdowns when under the stress of bitterly cold temperatures, but there are things you can do now to minimize the chances of that happening.

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Our first bitter blast of the season’s about to hit, forcing furnaces to work overtime and cars to groan. So to keep your home toasty warm and vehicles running, two area troubleshooters gave us some free advice.

Fred Ridler is an HVAC expert with Abel Heating and Cooling in Minnetrista.

“Take the cover off and pull out the old filter,” he said.

Ridler says dirty air filters lead to burned out blower motors. Change that filter now to save hundreds of dollars spent on a new motor down the road.

“It eventually can’t move enough air because the filter is clogged, then the part fails,” he said. “This motor costs us $500-600.”

Something as simple as dead thermostat batteries will shut down a furnace.

“It’s important to check the furnace and listen to noises, make sure there’s no water,” Ridler said.

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Ridler says grinding noises indicate bad bearings in circulating pumps and fans, while a lengthy clicking noise could signal a failing igniter.

And for hot water systems, you don’t want a noisy circulating pump or water pressure that drops below 12-pounds.

“I want to make sure it’s above 12 PSI, otherwise the system would shut down,” Ridler said.

Auto mechanic, Charlie Johnson, with Westside Automotive in Mound says that extreme cold weather puts a huge strain on car batteries.

“The sign of a bad battery, or one that’s going bad, would be a slow crank time,” Johnson points out.

And it’s a good idea to prepare for the upcoming bitter cold with fresh oil of the proper viscosity. Keeping your gas tank full and tires fully inflated is also important.

“You should always pay more attention to how it’s running before it breaks down,” Johnson said.

It’s also a good idea to check any moisture drain lines coming from your furnace to make sure they’re draining properly.

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And it’s really important to disconnect that garden hose you may have forgotten. That can lead to a burst water pipe inside the house when it freezes, because its unable to drain.