It never fails: when the weather turns cold the car or truck always seems to turn off. Batteries, it seems, never go dead when it's warm outside, and hoses never seem to break until winds are howling and temperatures are below zero.

That's why, said Bryan Player, owner of Best Value Auto, it's a good idea to repair or replace items that could go bad before winter.Such as:

- Belts and hoses, he said, should be changed every three years or 12,000 miles. As belts age, they begin to crack and glaze, which causes them to slip or break. The same with hoses. Extreme temperature changes may be all that's needed to cause them to give.

- The first cold snap is usually when people realize they have a dead cell in their battery. This is especially true with owners of maintenance-free batteries that don't allow for the check on fluid levels. If caps can be removed then the level of acid in the battery should be checked to make sure each cell is full. Also, terminals and cables on the battery should be checked. Poor connections will restrict starting power and the ability of a battery to recharge. A simple load test at a shore or shop can tell owners of potential problems.

- Always check the antifreeze. The proper mixture is 50-50 for both winter and summer.

- Wiper blades should be checked to make sure the rubber blade is not worn, ripped or uneven.

- Headlights should be checked periodically. In the winter they should be cleaned off occasionally.

- Check the windshield washer pump and fluid. Buying a good fluid is also important. Sometimes the less expensive fluids won't work and may freeze and damage the pump. Anything below 30 degrees should be okay.

- Thermostats should be check to make sure they are opening and closing at the right temperatures. This is especially important with cars regulated by computers where a constant operating temperature is required.

- Winter, too, is a time for waterpumps to go bad if the antifreeze mixture is not right.