Traveling to the mountains can make for a breathtaking vacation, particularly if you are used to relatively flat vistas. However, driving on mountain roads poses challenges beyond the obvious, from figuring out how to maintain safe speeds without overheating your brakes to ensuring you can handle a quick change of weather. If you’re planning to do any mountain driving on your next vacation, keep the following tips in mind:
Ensure your car is in good mechanical condition
Mountain driving puts a lot more stress on a vehicle than driving on flat roads does. Pay particular attention to the state of your brakes, exhaust, heater, and defroster, all of which can be extremely important when driving in the mountains.
Watch your speed when going downhill
It is generally safer to stick to a downhill speed no higher than the uphill speed your car is capable of on a similar grade. Zooming down a hill can lead to dangerous situations.
Alleviate the load on your brakes by downshifting
Relying solely on your brakes to slow you on a long downhill stretch can overheat them and degrade their performance. Use “L” or “2” in an automatic vehicle, and remember to shift back into drive when you reach flat ground.
Watch your thermostat
Your engine can overheat when your car has to work hard to get you up a long, steep grade. If your engine gets too hot, pull over to the side of the road and let it cool down. You can also reduce the load on your engine by turning off your air conditioning or blasting your heater.
Be courteous to other drivers—On narrow roads, avoid driving right on the center line and crowding oncoming traffic. In addition, if you notice a line of traffic forming behind you, find a safe spot to pull over and let those drivers pass.