Dear Car Fix: The weather hasn't changed yet, but I'm a little worried about driving this winter. I usually spend winters in Florida and I'm here this year. Can you give me a few tips?
-- M.J., Newstead
Dear M.J.: Heavy rain, snow, sleet and ice can create a whole new world on the road than what most are used to driving on. Review these tips before you head out on those slippery roads.
*Adjust your speed to the current conditions. When driving in challenging conditions, slow down. Decreasing speed will allow more time to respond when a difficult situation occurs.
*Anticipate difficult situations. Studies have shown that 80 percent of all accidents could be prevented with only one more second to react. This one second can be gained by looking far enough ahead to identify problems before becoming a part of them.
*Use grip effectively. When roads are slippery, always brake in a straight line before the curve in the road. Taking your foot off the brake before steering into the corner allows you to use the entire grip available for steering. Don't accelerate until the steering wheel is straight.
*Drive with headlights on. Whenever daytime visibility is less than clear, be sure to turn on headlights. Remember this rule of thumb: wipers on, lights on. When traveling in snowy weather, remember to regularly clear tail lights, turn signal lights and headlamps.
*Anti-lock brakes can't perform miracles. Although ABS braking systems offer the ability to brake and steer, they are limited by the grip available on the road and the type of tires on your vehicle. If you're driving too fast into a corner and try to brake, even ABS won't keep you on the road.
*Driving at night. Leave headlamps on low beam when driving in snow or fog. This will minimize reflection and glare, improve visibility and help reduce eye fatigue.
*Wear quality sunglasses. Good-quality sunglasses help highlight changes in the terrain and road surface even in low visibility conditions. Polarized lenses are your best choice.
Remember to add a snow brush, ice scraper and hand warmers plus some extra winter clothes to your trunk and you should be fine.
Dear Car Fix: I just saw the new KIA Rio-5. It's really cute. What are your thoughts before I rush out and buy one?
-- C.L., Williamsville
Dear C.L.: The 2012 KIA Rio-5 is a value-packed car that is best described as the "new cool."
It gets great fuel economy, 30 mpg city/40 highway, with a 1.6L GDI engine/138 horsepower (or a 2.0L aluminum engine/164 horsepower).
This little economy car comes with a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission with two overdrive gears for better fuel economy. Prices start at $16,500.
I test-drove the KIA Rio-5 through Austin, Texas. Austin's mix of country roads and city driving conditions was the perfect chance to showcase the "new cool" ride from KIA.
The five-seater, midsize compact was fun to drive and attracted plenty of attention due to its new front-end, hood and LED headlights and tail lights. It has an appealing new muscular look.
"Idle stop and go" improves fuel economy with ISG that turns the engine on and off. When you stop, it stops, when you go, it goes -- seamlessly.
Standard equipment included push-button start with smart key; low rolling resistant tires; vehicle stability management; premium look with soft-touch interior; adjustable arm rest; toggle switches inspired by airplanes; power folding mirrors; and rear spoiler and front spoiler.
Standard safety on the KIA Rio-5: front and side curtain air bags, anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control.
They offer optional 15-, 16- and 18-inch alloy wheels; backup camera; and UVO infotainment and navigation systems.
The KIA Rio-5 competes with Ford Fiesta, Chevy Sonic, Nissan Versa and Honda Fit.
I really liked the new distinctive design. It had lots of head and leg room with plenty of versatile cargo area. The UVO infotainment system plus the Infinity 350-watt sound system was a nice upgrade if your budget allows. However, the 10-year/100,000-mile warranty really helps sell KIAs and Hyundais to most customers.
There were a few dislikes: The back seat is tight for adults, and the steering wanders a bit at high speeds.
Remember, when shopping for a new car, test drive as many vehicles as you can to find one that's best for you.