By Alison Stanton
It's official: Your time-off request has been approved, and with the holidays fast approaching, you and the family are ready to head out to spend some quality time with grandma and grandpa.
But before you head over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house, it's important to ensure your vehicle can withstand the harsh winter conditions. Check out the following three common mistakes people make when planning a cold-weather road trip and what you should do instead.
1. Assuming Your Vehicle Can Handle Winter Weather
If your car is humming along nicely on the way to work and/or school, you might assume it will be able to handle a road trip with ease. However, going a few miles to and from work is vastly different than driving hundreds of miles in winter weather. Prior to leaving, schedule a winter tune-up at your mechanic to ensure your:
- Anti-freeze and other fluid systems are topped off
- Spark plugs are replaced
- Windshield wipers are in good condition
Additionally, you'll want to inspect your tires carefully for any rot or damage. Beyond having plenty of quality tread, also check the brand of your tires to determine whether they're designed to handle slick and icy road conditions. If your tires are showing signs of baldness and aren't designed for harsh conditions, invest in four, new winter performance tires before you skip town.
Not sure where to turn with your trip fast approaching? Check out resources like TireBuyer.com to shop for tires meant to handle snow and ice. The online retailer offers a variety of winter-ready tires at affordable prices.
2. Not Checking the Weather Report
You and your family may be chomping at the bit to leave and see grandma and grandpa as soon as possible. But before heading out, be sure to check the seven-day forecast for your impending route.
It's possible a snowstorm may hit the areas in which you plan to travel. If this is the case — and, more importantly, you know this information well in advance — you can delay your trip by a day or two instead of ending up being stranded along the way.
Looking for a trusty resource? Check the conditions and forecast by using the National Weather Service as a resource. Through this website, you can enter your current location and destination to find out if any inclement weather is headed your way.
3. Forgetting to Pack an Emergency Roadside Kit
You may assume having your vehicle thoroughly checked over — and with four new winter tires — means you won't experience any issues on the open road. Unfortunately, despite your best efforts and intentions, you may wind up getting stuck along the way.
For example, your options will be severely limited if an accident involving multiple vehicles shuts down a portion of the highway for several hours. Additionally, you could experience unexpected car issues or have the battery go dead. Talk about a holiday downer.
Before leaving on your trip, pack an emergency roadside kit that includes plenty of warm blankets, extra food and water, and Thermoses filled with hot drinks like coffee and cocoa. Additionally, keep your smartphone fully charged, and try not to let your gas tank dip below half full.
Have a Great Time!
With some proper planning, you're bound to enjoy a safe and fun winter road trip that will provide you and your family with plenty of lifelong memories. Just be sure to give grandma a big ol' hug when you get there.
About the Author: Alison has been a freelance writer for the past 15 years. She enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics, and always looks for opportunities to learn about new subjects.