Consumer Reports: Car sensor safety during the winter

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Winter driving can make your car filthy with dirt, salt, snow, and ice - and it can be dangerous. (WPVI)

Winter driving can make your car filthy with dirt, salt, snow, and ice - and it can be dangerous.

Especially if you have a newer car, Consumer Reports says you need to make sure all the sensors and cameras are clean. That way they'll operate properly when you need them most.

And Consumer Reports says that a dirty car in winter can actually be dangerous.

"All the salt, spray, snow and road grime that gets onto a vehicle in the wintertime can obscure the radars and the cameras and the different sensors that you use for your safety systems. And while it doesn't mean that they won't work all the time, they may not be there when you most need them," said Consumer Reports' Jon Linkov.

Here's how to give your safety sensors a little extra care in the winter.

"The one you're going to use the most is the backup camera. So take a bucket of water, a little soap and you're just going to want to go underneath and find the exposed camera," said Linkov.

If your car has parking assist, wipe away any debris from the bumper sensors.

Rear body panels house blind spot monitoring radars. Remove snow and salt so they can continue to detect objects out of your view.

And many new cars have radar sensors behind the front grille, so keep that area clean of impacted snow or mud.

If your car has forward collision or lane departure warning, you'll need to pay extra attention to the windshield where the camera and sensors are usually mounted.

"So you're going to want to clean these and make sure that they're clean before you start driving. One final thing to consider. 360 degree camera system are on some vehicles, usually they are on the mirror area. You're gonna want to reach under here make sure that these are clean just like the front and rear cameras," said Linkov.

Others things you should do in the winter? Show your tires some extra love as well.

Check your tire pressure monthly, along with looking at the tire treads.

And of course, always keep a full tank of gas!
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