Sunday, 6 November 2011

10 Tips for Winter Travel

With the approaching winter, it is very important to be sure your vehicle is ready for the extreme cold many of us endure. I bring up this topic because I had a breakdown on Friday which reminded me one can never take a vehicle for granted. Needless to say, I am now without the use of my van. Perhaps my Dad will let me use one of his trucks for a couple weeks while mine gets fixed. My sister suggested I saddle up the horse and use him for transportation; don't think he'd appreciate the 10 mile walk to town though. Besides, I'm not too keen on it either. All I can say is BRRRRR!

No matter how much or how little we travel in the winter, it is important to always be prepared for an emergency. When it is -40 or during a blizzard, a 5-mile drive could end in disaster just as easily as a 500-mile drive.

  1. Good tires are very important, especially for areas that receive a lot of snow. Winter tires are best, but a good all-season radial will suffice. Ensure your drive tires are in good condition, but don't skimp on the free-wheels either.
  2. Keep your fuel above half a tank. There is less chance of moisture building up inside your tank and causing engine failure. Putting in a few ounces of gas line antifreeze doesn't hurt either with your fill-ups, especially in extremely cold weather.
  3. Do regular oil changes. Now is not the time to ignore the fact, as oil breaks down and can quickly cause engine failure. (Let's just say it is a lesson perhaps learned the hard way. Intentions alone do not save the engine.)
  4. Be sure all fluids are topped up. This includes the windshield washer fluid, proper engine anti-freeze, transmission fluid and brake fluid. 
  5. If the windshield wipers on your vehicle are on the verge of falling apart, replace them. Winter temperatures can wreak havoc with them.
  6. Keep extra blankets and a few snacks in the vehicle at all times. Also have a few bottles of water as well; they will freeze but can be thawed in a pinch.
  7. Keep an emergency kit containing: first aid kit, booster cables, candles and matches, extra winter wear, and a flashlight with extra batteries. Adding a couple of extra emergency blankets to the first aid kit won't hurt either. They don't take up a lot of space and can mean the difference between life and death.
  8. Drive for the weather conditions! Don't be driving 100km/hr if the road conditions only are safely traveled at 70km/hr. Many vehicles end up in a snowbank because the driver was in a hurry. Also DO NOT use cruise control in winter, as the tires keep spinning the same speed no matter what surface they are on. Hitting an icy patch can quickly send you into a spin and you end up with a real close view of the ditch.
  9. Most people carry a cell phone with them, so keeping a separate one in the vehicle for emergency use only is not usually feasible. However if you don't regularly use one, investing in a pay-as-you-go phone may not be a bad idea. You may not have trouble, but may come across another motorist who needs assistance.
  10. Something else to remember is in the event of a breakdown or collision, STAY WITH YOUR VEHICLE! Sadly, people think they can walk to find help and the end result is often grim. it is easy to become quickly disoriented when trying to navigate a blizzard.
Keep these tips in mind and winter travel should be worry free. And in the event of a breakdown, you will at least be prepared. 

Happy travels!


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