Here are some helpful car care tips to keep your Subaru in top running condition:

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Battery Maintenance

All Subaru vehicles are equipped with maintenance-free batteries. The term "maintenance-free" can be misleading - as these batteries do require some attention to maintain their cleanliness and efficiency.

Your car's battery is the heart of its electrical system and the chief cause of winter weather start-up woes. In cold weather, the battery loses about half its strength while the demands on the battery increase. Low temperatures reduce the battery's engine-cranking power, and by thickening the engine oil, they also make it more difficult for your engine to turn over. Cold fuel doesn't vaporize well, which adds to the difficulty.
It is extremely important to have your car's battery checked by a Subaru-trained technician regularly. A battery check will include an examination of cable connections for cleanliness and tightness. Loose or corroded connections can dramatically diminish your car's starting power; and if the connections grow loose or crusty enough, they can shut off your car's electrical flow entirely and leave you thinking you have a dead battery.
Low temperatures also reduce the efficiency at which a battery is recharged.

Winter driving conditions frequently require the use of lights, defrosters and wipers for extended periods while driving at slow speeds. This additional load requires the charging system to work properly so that it sufficiently charges the battery the next time you start your car's engine. For this reason, your service technician should also check your battery's charging system and voltage regulator, and inspect your vehicle's alternator to ensure that all components are operating properly.

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Check Engine Light

When you start your vehicle, the check engine light comes on momentarily to test the engine/emission control system and bulb. The system is self-diagnostic and the light is a way to communicate trouble. The system is designed to function in a "limp home" mode when trouble occurs and the light comes on - and stays on. However, take your vehicle to an authorized Subaru dealer right away. The technicians have specialized tools and training to access trouble codes stored in the vehicle's memory each time the light is illuminated. This is a sophisticated system, with the ability to detect and store information about even the slightest changes.

One item which may seem insignificant but which can cause the system to detect trouble is a loose or missing fuel filler cap. Remove the cap, then tighten it until it clicks. If you are unsure whether the loose cap was the cause or if the light stays on, visit your Subaru dealer.

The light also can come on if you have installed electrically powered accessories (such as a radar detector or keyless entry system) that aren't compatible with your vehicle's systems. If the light comes on and such accessories are installed, Subaru technicians may insist they be removed or disconnected before any further diagnosis can take place. Subaru-approved accessories are thoroughly tested to prevent such problems.

For more information, check your Owner's Manual.

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Clean Filters, Improved Performance

Road dust, fuel system condensation and engine-oil sludge are unseen enemies that can cause harm to your engine, or prevent it from working at its best. Your best defense? Visit your Subaru dealer for genuine Subaru filter replacements to help ensure that your engine lives a healthy, high-mileage life. Refer to your vehicle's Warranty and Maintenance Booklet for recommended maintenance schedules.

Oil Filters
Motor oil circulates through your engine to lubricate all the moving parts. Along the way, dirt, grit and fine metallic and carbon particles contaminate motor oil and, if improperly filtered out, may ruin your engine. Today's high-detergent oils are formulated to suspend contaminants until they can be effectively trapped by the oil filter. Regularly changed oil filters protect your engine by removing the suspended particles from your motor oil.

Fuel Filters
Today's sophisticated fuel injection systems demand clean fuel in order to run smoothly. From the gas tank to your engine, fuel can pick up contaminants like dirt and condensation. If these contaminants are not properly filtered out they will cause reduced engine performance, rough idling and may eventually damage the sensitive fuel injection components. Fuel filters changed using the recommended maintenance schedule can help you avoid expensive repairs.

Air Filters
Your engine needs a great deal of air to run properly. If air is not properly filtered, dust and other suspended particles get into the combustion chamber where they may become lodged between the piston and cylinder wall, causing wear. This may result in loss of acceleration, decreased power and lower gas mileage.

Remember, ALWAYS insist on genuine Subaru Filters - your best defense against the most abusive elements.

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Does Your Car Need a Tune-up?

A couple of years have passed since you had the car tuned up. But is it really running smoothly? As you drive each day, observe any changes in its performance. There may be good reasons to get a tune-up sooner than you think.

If you are used to do-it-yourself maintenance, some of today's computerized controls may not make possible problems as obvious to you as they were in the past. That's why preventative diagnosis is so important to keep your Subaru running trouble-free for years.

If you detect a change in your car's performance, however, call your Subaru technician right away!

- Hard Starting. The most common car trouble, usually due to neglected maintenance. If the starter cranks the engine, the electrical system is probably okay. The problem could be as simple as a starting sensor (or the choke mechanism if applicable).
- Knocking. A noise usually heard when the engine is "under load," like during acceleration or climbing a hill. It can be caused by inferior fuel, but is often a sign your engine needs attention. Many cars now have knock sensors built in to correct minor problems, but they can't compensate for larger malfunctions that could result in engine damage.
- Rough Running. This can be caused by a problem in the fuel or ignition system, or by a troubled valve or piston. Tell your technician when it occurs: When idling? During acceleration? At all speeds?
- Poor Gas Mileage. Keep track of your mileage. Changes may be due to underinflated tires, engine running too cold, transmission malfunction, dragging brakes or misaligned wheels.
- Stalling. Causes can include incorrect idle speed, adjustments, malfunctioning sensor or switch, dirty fuel system parts, worn spark plugs or other engine deficiencies. Take note: Does the engine stall when hot? Cold? With air conditioning on?
- Dieseling. Also known as "after-run." The engine keeps chugging and coughing for a few seconds after you shut off the ignition. Causes can range from inferior gasoline and high idle speed to carbon in the combustion chamber.
- Power Loss. A dirty fuel filter commonly causes power loss. Preventative maintenance can help.

Don't Ignore Small Warning Signs! Take preventative measures before there are problems ... call your Subaru technician when it's tune-up time.

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Five 60-Second Fluid Checks

Properly maintaining your car's fluid levels is an easy way to help ensure that your Subaru runs smoothly between service visits.

Before checking, always stop the engine, remove the key from the ignition switch, set the parking brake and let the engine cool down completely. Take care not to spill any engine oil, engine coolant, brake fluid or any other fluid on hot engine components.

Use your Owner's Manual as a guide for more details and to locate specific engine parts.

Engine Oil
When: Every Fuel Stop. Park your Subaru on a level surface and stop the engine. Pull out the dipstick, wipe it clean, and insert it again until it stops. Pull out the dipstick again and check the oil level on it. If it is below the lower level, add oil to bring it up to the upper level. Important: Use only engine oil with the grade and viscosity recommended in your Owner's Manual.

Coolant
When: Every Fuel Stop. Check your car's coolant level on the outside of the reservoir while the engine is cool. If the level is close to or lower than the "LOW" mark, add coolant up to the "FULL" mark. If the reserve tank is empty, remove the radiator cap (Do not open when the radiator is hot!) and refill as required. After filling the reserve tank and the radiator, reinstall the caps and check that the rubber gasket inside the radiator cap is in the proper position. Important: Use the coolant recommended in your Owner's Manual only. Use of other coolants may result in corrosion.

Automatic Transmission Fluid
When: Monthly. (Automatic transmission equipped models only.) Drive several miles to raise the temperature of your car's transmission fluid up to normal operating temperatures (140 to 176 degrees is normal). Park on a level surface and set the parking brake. Shift the selector level in each position. Then shift it in the "P" position, and run the engine at idling speed. Pull out the dipstick and check the fluid level on the gauge. If it is below the lower level on the "HOT" side, add the recommended automatic transmission fluid up to the upper level. Important: If you don't have time to warm up the automatic transmission, check to see that the fluid level is between the lower level and the upper level on the "COLD" side. If it is below that range, add fluid up to the upper level. Be careful not to overfill.

Manual Transmission Oil
When: Monthly. (Manual transmission equipped models only.) Park your Subaru on a level surface and stop the engine. Pull out the dipstick, wipe it clean, and insert it again. Pull out the dipstick again and check the oil level on it. If it is below the lower level, add oil to bring the level back up to the upper level.

Brake Fluid
When: Monthly. Check the fluid level on the outside of the reservoir. If the level is below "MIN," add the recommended brake fluid to "MAX." Important: Use only brake fluid from a sealed container. Never mix different brands of brake fluid together. Brake fluid absorbs moisture from the air. Any absorbed moisture can cause a dangerous loss of braking performance. Take care not to splash brake fluid over any painted surfaces or rubber parts, as damage may result. If your vehicle requires frequent refilling, there may be a leak. Have the vehicle checked at your Subaru dealership.

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Keeping our Teen Drivers Safe

Handing your car keys to a newly licensed teenage driver is never easy. Instead of pacing the floor and worrying each time your teen leaves the house, discuss the facts with him or her, and set some realistic guidelines:

- Safety belts save lives. Get into the habit of buckling up and insist that all of your passengers buckle up, too. In most states, it's the law.
- Before your teen drives solo, require at least 50 hours of supervised driving time and completion of a behind-the-wheel defensive driving course.
- Protect your teen by establishing a reasonable curfew. Nighttime driving, which is more difficult even for experienced drivers, involves a greater number of drunk drivers on the road.
- Stress to your teen the importance of obeying speed limits. High-speed driving is a dangerous risk not worth the potential thrill. Some cars perform much differently at high speeds and for a new and inexperienced driver the results can be deadly.
- The penalties of drunk driving can range from loss of license, insurance and savings, to loss of life. Make a pact: If your young driver consumes any alcohol, he or she will not get behind the wheel and will call you to arrange a pickup. Your part is to avoid asking any questions until the following day. This pact also applies when your teen is a guest of any driver - young or old - who has been drinking.

Finally, remember that YOUR driving habits greatly influence those of your teen. Be a good example! Follow the same set of rules you establish for your teen, and always designate a driver if you've consumed any alcohol. Good communication, some realistic rules and honest cooperation can make your new driver a benefit to the family, not a source of constant worry.

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Shocks and Struts

Shocks and struts influence the control and handling characteristics of your vehicle while holding the tires to the road. They control the action of the spring to resist bottoming out -- like when you hit a pothole -- and keep the movement of the springs under control when they rebound. Without shocks and struts, a vehicle would continually bounce and bound down the road, making driving difficult.

"It is important that shocks and struts are in top condition during the winter months," says James Plogger, vice president of sales for Gabriel Ride Control Products, Inc. "It is recommended that vehicle owners have their vehicles' ride control systems checked by an ASE certified service technician."

How They Work
Shocks provide resistance by forcing hydraulic fluid (oil) through valves in the piston as it moves up and down. Because the oil cannot be compressed, only a certain amount of fluid can be forced through these valves, which creates resistance to the vehicle movement.

How to Tell if Shocks and Struts Need Replacement
Under normal conditions, shocks and struts wear out gradually. However, many factors can affect how much wear is actually occurring and at what rate it is occurring.

"For example, two people buy the same vehicle new off the dealer lot -- one lives in the city close to the office, and drives mostly on straight roads. The other lives in the country, 45 miles from the office and must travel 10 of those miles on a winding, often muddy gravel road. Because shocks operate in an extremely hostile under-vehicle environment, where anything from gravel to ice, and snow to grit can affect the life of the product, it is a good bet that driver number two will need to replace his shocks long before driver number one," explains Plogger.

The piston rod can easily be nicked or damaged by flying gravel allowing grit and dirt to damage the piston seal. Among signs of worn shocks or struts:

Do you experience excessive bounce (three or more bounces) when crossing an intersection? When stopping quickly does your vehicle rock back and forth? While applying your brakes firmly at higher speeds, does your vehicle drift left or right? When changing lanes quickly does your vehicle rock or sway from side to side?

Many components contribute to handling. Having your vehicle inspected if you experience any of the above signs is good preventive maintenance.

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State Emission Testing: What to Know Before You Go

TECHNICAL ALERT
WARNING: Full-Time 4WD or AWD Subaru models must never be tested on a two-wheel dynamometer. Serious transmission damage could result.

Is it time to take your Subaru vehicle to your state emission inspection lanes or to visit a local authorized service station or independent repair shop for this service? If so, and you are the owner of a Full-Time 4-Wheel Drive (4WD) or All-Wheel Drive (AWD) Subaru model, this information is for you.

The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments required the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement stricter vehicle emission control inspection programs to reduce air pollution from motor vehicles. Depending on the severity of a state's air pollution problems, states must adopt either a "basic" or "enhanced" vehicle emission test.

Typically, the basic test includes the insertion of an analyzer probe into the exhaust pipe of the vehicle during idle driving conditions for a short period. States with more severe air pollution problems (usually major metropolitan areas with populations of 200,000 or more) are required to perform the enhanced test. This test permits more accurate measurement of tailpipe emissions by simulating actual driving conditions on a dynamometer.

What is a Dynamometer?
A dynamometer is a treadmill or roller-like testing device that allows your car's wheels to turn while the car remains in one place. Some states have started using dynamometers in their state inspection programs in order to satisfy new federal laws calling for stricter emission standards for reduced air pollution. The problem? Dynamometers can be very damaging to the transmissions of Full-Time 4WD and AWD vehicles.

Some Subaru AWD owners have contacted Subaru of America, Inc. and their authorized Subaru dealers seeking warranty reimbursement for transmission damage caused by two-wheel dynamometer testing. These owners reported no driveability problems prior to state-enhanced emission testing, but sought repair for driveability symptoms (vibrations, noise on turns, etc.) within 100 miles after the improperly performed two-wheel dynamometer test. The Subaru Emissions Defect and Performance Warranties, which cover defects in your vehicle's materials and workmanship, do not cover damage resulting from improper testing.

States using a two-wheel dynamometer exempt Full-Time 4WD and AWD vehicles, including Subaru models, from dynamometer testing and perform only the basic two-speed idle tailpipe test. Four-wheel dynamometer testing is approved for Subaru Full-Time 4WD and AWD models. Avoid the aggravation and expense of post-emission testing repairs to your vehicle by following the recommendations below.

Don't Get Smoked!
1.Contact your authorized Subaru dealer prior to state emission testing if you are unsure whether your vehicle has a Full-Time 4WD or AWD transmission.
2.Alert your vehicle emission inspector prior to testing that your Subaru vehicle is either Full-Time 4WD or AWD-equipped and cannot be tested on a single two-wheel dynamometer.
3.If your vehicle is improperly tested and exhibits driveability symptoms described above, we suggest you contact your authorized Subaru dealer or Subaru of America, Inc. immediately. All post-emission testing repairs should be performed at an authorized Subaru dealer to ensure that they are done properly.
4.Contact Subaru of America, Inc. at 1-800-SUBARU3 if you have any additional questions.

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Taking the Stress out of Service Appointments

It's often frustrating. You try to arrange a service or maintenance appointment, and your dealer is all booked up. Dealers are trying to meet the challenge by extending their hours, opening service operations on Saturdays and building stand-alone service-only facilities, but it still can happen. Here are some tips to help you avoid appointment disappointment:

- Plan ahead. If you know you are going to reach a service milestone soon, call and set the appointment at your convenience before you are on top of it.
- Avoid trying for an appointment before "travel holidays." Many people will try to get that last-minute service done before going on a cross-country trip to Grandma's for Thanksgiving (or another major holiday). It's typically a tight time for your dealer.
- Be aware of seasonality. The first big cold snap or the first heat wave of the year often brings a rush to the dealership for seasonal service.
- If possible, be flexible. If a dealer can't take you in the morning, how about afternoon or evening? If not a weekday, are Saturday hours available? Sometimes dealers have appointment cancellations. Can the Service Manager call you on short notice if there's an opening? Ask how long the service will take to determine whether you should wait or leave the vehicle and arrange other transportation.

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Test Your Tire Care Know-how

Make regular tire care one of your New Year's resolutions! Find out how much you know about proper tire care by taking this test. The answers appear at the bottom.

True or False:

1.Your brakes stop the wheels, but the tires stop the car.
2.Tire pressure should be lowered in the winter.
3.In the tire size "P195/70R14," the number 14 means it is a radial tire.
4.A tire with too little air pressure will wear more on the outside of the tread.
5.Tires are not considered safe when the tread is less than 1/16" thick.
6.Overloading a car has the same effect as having underinflated tires.
7.Every time a tire screeches, the potential mileage is reduced.
8.The best time to check the pressure in your tires is after a long trip.
9.Worn tires are more likely to "hydroplane."
10.While driving, if you think you have a flat tire, pull off the road immediately.

Answers:

1.True. This is why tire care is so important. The control of your car is only as good as the tires' contact with the road.
2.False. Tire pressure usually lowers itself in winter -- dropping about one pound for every 10 degrees the temperature falls. Check tires regularly, particularly during the winter months, to ensure that the proper pressure is maintained.
3.False. The letter "R" in the label means the tire is a radial. The number "14" indicates the rim diameter is 14".
4.True. Too little air will cause excessive wear on the outside of the tread. Too much air pressure will cause undue wear on the middle of the tread.
5.True. Many states have minimum tread depth laws that reject tires with tread worn below 1/16 of an inch in two or more adjacent grooves. The tire is considered worn out.
6.True. Most people know that driving with underinflated tires causes excess tread wear as well as making the tire prone to failure. But most people don't realize that overloading their car's tires has exactly the same effect.
7.True. The driver who feels it is necessary to "peel out" from a stop sign or squeal around a corner potentially has erased hundreds of miles from the tread life of the tire.
8.False. Tire pressure will increase while driving so it is important to check tire pressure when tires are "cold" -- in the morning or BEFORE starting a trip. Recommended tire pressure is always expressed as "cold tire pressure."
9.True. A tire's tread grooves are designed to evacuate water from under the tread. If tires are worn, they are more likely to "hydroplane." This means they surf along on a film of water just like a water skier.
10.False. It is important to come to a gradual stop if you believe you have a flat tire. The driver should not pull off the road until he finds a safe place. It's better to ruin a tire than risk an accident.

The Tire Industry Safety Council offers a free brochure on tire care for cars and light trucks. To order the guide, send a self-addressed, stamped business-size envelope to: Tire Industry Safety Council, P.O. Box 3147, Medina, OH 44258.

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Tire Wear / Rotation / Replacement / Temporary Spare Tire Operation

We all know that tires wear. There are certain things you, as an owner, can do to help minimize this wear.

Keep your tires properly inflated. This is perhaps the single most important thing you can do. Information on correct tire inflation pressure is provided in your owner's manual and on a placard on the driver's door pillar. How often you check your tire inflation is up to you. As a rule of thumb, tires should be checked every time you fill your car with gas. Remember that tires should be checked when cold since tire pressure will increase as the tires warm up.

Rotate your tires regularly. SUBARU recommends tires should be rotated every 7,500 miles. These are recommended intervals only. Your actual driving conditions may warrant more frequent rotation. Factors such as road surfaces, driving techniques/habits, vehicle loading, and weather, to name just a few, can all have an effect on tire wear.

Tire Replacement. The wheels and tires are important and integral parts of your vehicle's design; they cannot be changed arbitrarily. The tires fitted as standard equipment are optimally matched to the characteristics of the vehicle and were selected to give the best possible combination of running performance, ride comfort, and service life. It is essential for every tire to have a size and construction as well as a speed symbol and load index matching those shown on the tire placard. Using tires of a non-specified size detracts from controllability, ride comfort, braking performance and speedometer and odometer accuracy. It also creates incorrect body-to-tire clearances and inappropriately changes the vehicle's ground clearance. All four tires must be the same in terms of manufacturer, brand (tread pattern), construction, and size. You are advised to replace the tires with new ones that are identical to those fitted as standard equipment.

For safe vehicle operation, SUBARU recommends replacing all four tires at the same time. WARNING: All four tires must be the same in terms of manufacturer, brand (tread pattern), construction, degree of wear, speed symbol, load index and size. Mixing tires of different types, sizes or degrees of wear can result in damage to the vehicle's power train. Use of different types or sizes of tires can also dangerously reduce controllability and braking performance and can lead to an accident. Use only radial tires. Do not use radial tires together with belted bias tires and/or bias-ply tires. Doing so can dangerously reduce controllability which can result in an accident.

Temporary Spare Tire.
WARNING: Never tow a trailer when the temporary spare tire is used. The temporary spare tire is not designed to sustain the towing load. Use of the temporary spare tire when towing can result in failure of the spare tire and/or less stability of the vehicle and may lead to an accident.

CAUTION: Never use any temporary spare tire other than the original. Using other sizes may result in severe mechanical damage to the drive train of your vehicle. The temporary spare tire is smaller and lighter than a conventional tire and is designed for emergency use only. Remove the temporary spare tire and re-install the conventional tire as soon as possible because the spare tire is designed only for temporary use. Check the inflation pressure of the temporary spare tire periodically to keep the tire ready for use. The correct pressure is 60 psi (420 kPa, 4.2 kgf/cm2).

When using the temporary spare tire, note the following:

- Do not exceed 50 mph (80 km/h).
- Do not put a tire chain on the temporary spare tire. Because of the smaller tire size, a tire chain will not fit properly
- Do not use two or more temporary spare tires at the same time.
- Do not drive over obstacles. This tire has a smaller diameter, so road clearance is reduced.

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Towing a Subaru

AWD Subaru vehicles with manual transmissions can be towed with all four wheels on the ground and the transmission in neutral. STI vehicles with 6 Speed Manual Transmissions can also be towed with all four wheels on the ground and the transmission in neutral. In addition, STI vehicles with 6 Speed Manual Transmissions require that the Driver's Control Center Differential (DCCD) is set in manual mode and the DCCD control dial set to the furthest rearward position.

Please refer to your owner's manual for additional important information on towing vehicles with all four wheels on the ground.

Towing Your Subaru
Subaru of America, Inc. recently changed its policy regarding towing of Subaru vehicles. The guidelines below apply to 1990 or later Legacy (and Outback) models, 1993 or later Impreza (and Outback) models and 1992 or later SVX models and all Forester models. (If your Subaru doesn't fit into any of these categories, please refer to your Owner's Manual.)

Manual Transmission Models
All-Wheel Drive vehicles can be towed with all four wheels on the ground in neutral or with all four wheels off the ground on a trailer with the transmission in gear. Never attempt towing with only two wheels on the ground or two wheels on a dolly. Front-Wheel Drive vehicles can be towed with all four wheels on the ground in neutral or with the two front wheels off the ground.

Automatic Transmission Models
All-Wheel Drive vehicles cannot be towed with any wheels on the ground. The vehicle can only be towed on a trailer with all four wheels off the ground and the transmission in park. Front-Wheel Drive vehicles can be towed with front wheels off the ground or all four wheels off the ground and transmission in park.

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Wiper Care

You might take them for granted -- until it rains, snows or sleets and suddenly your safety depends on them. Windshield wipers always need to stay in top condition because you never know when you'll need them to help you see the road.

Wipers take a beating from extreme temperatures, acid rain, road salt, sand, and ice scraper abuse. The rubber can crack, split, tear, become contaminated with road film or chemicals or warp from long exposure to heat, cold or ice. Improvements are being made in blade materials, but air pollution still takes its toll.

You can clear up many windshield problems by replacing the blades. If water beads up on the glass, or if wiper action creates a hazy, oily film, clean the glass and replace the blades. Beading and hazing are most often caused by car wax build-up or driving behind a vehicle that was losing brake fluid or engine oil. If wipers leave streaks or "skip" on each stroke, the arm may be bent or applying incorrect pressure. Blades and arms should be inspected every four to six months.

Meanwhile, every time you wash your car (weekly, hopefully), clean the rubber blade with a mild detergent and rinse with water. You'll remove most pollutants attacking the rubber, help increase blade life and reduce windshield smearing. If taking a rear wiper-equipped Subaru through a commercial car wash, temporarily tape the rear wiper to the glass to avoid damage during the wash.

If you're tired of finding your wipers frozen to your windshield, try setting them away from the glass before you leave your parked car. Most Subaru wipers can be gently pulled outward and set before snow or freezing rain so they will be ready to work when you need them most.

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