The mountains can make for a scenic drive. However, mountain roads can be curvy, narrow and steep. You can go from a sharp incline to a decline within moments. On these roads, you can also face some extremes in elements. From snow to fog, wind to rain, you will need to be prepared for anything. You may even see warning signs about potential rock slides, so make sure to always be alert. If you are heading that way, know how to safely drive through the mountains.
How-to Safely Drive Through the Mountains: Know What to Expect
Vehicle Preparation and Maintenance
Before you head off to any mountain roads, make sure your vehicle is in good working condition. You will especially want to check your brakes, windshield wipers, defroster, heater, and exhaust systems. Check to make sure that your brake and transmission fluids are filled and have been changed within the interval recommended for your vehicle. This is very important because over time, brake fluid begins to age. It takes on moisture and contaminants that lowers its boiling level. On mountain roads, you may have to brake frequently. This can overheat the fluid and you can lose braking efficiency when it is most needed. Also, check the tread on your tires and make sure that they are properly inflated.
One of the reasons you need to properly maintain your car is due to the rapidly changing conditions you could encounter when you drive through the mountains. You will want your vehicle to be prepared for steep grades, unpaved roads, and the potential for snow or ice. You never know what you could run into while in the mountains.
Since the mountains can have so many variables, you will likely need to adjust your driving habits. For example, most mountain roads are narrower than Interstate highways. Some drivers tend to hug the center line. However, if you are hugging the center line, and another center-hugging vehicle comes around a curve from the opposite direction, both drivers may overcorrect and cause an accident.
In addition, during a drive through the mountains, do not use your brakes to maintain your speed when going downhill. Instead, you should down shift to 2 or L. Resist the temptation of zooming down a hill because you may lose control. Keep in mind that you should not follow anyone too closely, as they may have to slam on the brakes. When you are going downhill, the increased momentum will make it more difficult for you to stop. In the same way, watch your speed while in the mountains. You never know what could be around a sharp turn, causing you to need to brake suddenly.