With the winter seasons approaching its end, a spontaneous getaway to the nearby mountains can be a pretty good idea for those looking to break from the mundane. While the hills and mountains offer breathtaking views and clean air, driving through them can be tricky for some. Here are 9 useful tips for driving through hills and mountains to help you minimise the risk of a mishap -
9 Tips for driving through hills and mountains
Get your car inspected/serviced
Before starting your trip through the mountainous terrain, get your car inspected, and, if needed, serviced. Make sure that the brakes, HVAC, windshield wipers, battery, and exhaust systems are in their optimum state. Furthermore, remember to check if all the tires, including the spare wheel, are inflated as per the manufacturer-recommended standards. Driving through the mountains puts extra stress on all the components of your vehicle, which means getting your car inspected before the commencement of the trip is imperative.
Make sure your car is carrying enough fuel before you start your journey. Driving on the steep grades leads to higher fuel consumption. Moreover, mountains generally have fewer gas stations. To make things worse, most mountain roads have poor visibility ahead and minimal space to park your off the road. Hence, running out of fuel could pose a high risk of being hit by another vehicle. Such a scenario can be easily avoided by completely filling up your car's fuel tank beforehand and gathering knowledge about the locations of the petrol pumps that can be used en route.
Be ready for emergencies
Unpredictable weather change or a broke car can leave you stranded for many hours on a remote mountain road. Therefore, it's important to tell your family members or a friend about your journey and the date by which you plan to return. Moreover, make sure to pack a first-aid kit, a flashlight with spare batteries, extra clothing, and food.
Continuous braking on a downhill road can lead to excessive wear of the brakes. Hence, while braking on declines, use quick, light taps on the brake pedal to make sure the brakes stay cool. Keep an eye on the road signs to get notified about the approaching steep or hairpin turns. This will help you brake beforehand and approach the corner at a lower speed. Braking before the corners also lets you shift the forces to the rear of the vehicle instead of the front, which helps you have greater control over the driving.
For shedding speeds quickly on a steep topography, downshifting to a lower gear will take some load off the brakes. That said, always make sure to shift into a lower gear before you start going downhill as changing gears on a steep grade can a risky proposition.
Keep an eye on your car's temperature gauge
While going uphill, your car's motor often clocks higher engine speeds over a prolonged period. The increased stress on the engine can cause the powertrain to heat up faster. Hence, it's recommended to keep an eye on the temperature gauge. Turn off the air conditioner and avoid unnecessary acceleration to cool down the motor. It's even better to pull over to a safe spot and let the engine cool down.
Stay in your lane
While the beautiful scenery can tempt you to take your eyes off the road, it's recommended to stay focussed and drive in the correct lane. Even a small distraction can cause you to drive into the opposite lane, thereby putting yourself at risk of a collision with the oncoming traffic.
Furthermore, driving in the correct lane around a bend will allow you to escape a head-on collision on the blind turns. It's a good idea to keep in the centre of your lane. Driving close to the edge of the road increases the risk of having at least one of your tire drop off the tarmac and on to a soft surface that offers less traction. Driving on the inside edge of your lane increases the chance of a head-on collision.
Driving on snow-covered roads
While we recommend you to avoid driving on snow unless your vehicle is equipped with 4WD and snow-chains, one should exercise extreme caution in case he or she can't avoid driving a regular car, like an FWD hatchback on a snow-covered road. In such a scenario, speeds should be kept really low, while sudden acceleration and braking should be avoided. Furthermore, maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you as braking distances increase considerably while driving on snow.
Overtaking on a mountain road can be a tricky affair, especially as your sight of vision is shorter. Moreover, while driving uphill, be wary of the cars coming in the opposite direction as they are likely to be moving faster. Hence, before starting the overtaking procedure, make sure there's no oncoming traffic. Moreover, make sure there isn't a sudden change in the elevation. Finally, begin overtaking a vehicle only after he gives way to you.
Speed, curves & horn
Always slow down before you enter a corner as braking in a curve on a mountainous road can be a tricky proposition for many drivers. It can cause you to lose control over the vehicle and even cause the car to spin out of control due to sudden weight shift. Moreover, while approaching a corner, be in a gear that allows slight acceleration through the curve as it will let you maintain control, and if it's a blind curve on a narrow road, use the horn. When going downhill, you can merely let gravity provide you with the necessary acceleration.