Mountain Driving Tips

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Whether you’re an avid snowboarder, a nature lover, or a backpacking hiker, the mountains serve up year-round enjoyment for every outdoorsy type. But how well do you know how to manage mountain passes, hillside switchbacks, and winter driving conditions? Here are a few tips to keep in mind next time you head for the hills.

Make sure your car’s mountain-ready

Have your mechanic top off your fluids, check your tire pressure and tread, and make sure your brake pads are in good condition.

Prepare for the unexpected

Check the weather forecast, keep an emergency kit in your trunk, and make sure your phone’s fully charged in case you get stranded.

Know where you’re going

Plan your route ahead of time. Keep in mind that cell service can be spotty in the mountains, so don’t depend on your phone’s GPS.

Use low gears

Low gears are your friends in the mountains. They give you a little extra power to maintain your speed when you’re climbing. And when you’re descending, they’ll help you slow down to reduce strain on your brakes. If you drive an automatic, look for “L” or “2,” depending on your car’s transmission (or check your owner’s manual for how to shift down to lower gears).

Turn off the AC

Climbing uphill gives your engine a serious workout. Adding air conditioning forces it to work even harder, increasing the likelihood of overheating. It’s almost like asking a marathon runner to carry a load of bricks with them. Instead, crack the windows and enjoy the mountain air.

Take it easy on the brakes

Riding your brakes down a steep grade heats them up — and hot brakes are not happy brakes. Instead of applying constant pressure to the brakes, use lower gears to regulate your speed. If you do find yourself using your brakes a lot, pull over (as soon as you can safely do so) to let them cool down.

Don’t hog the road

If you’re winding your way down a steep 2-lane road, keep in mind that vehicles coming uphill have the right of way. That rule applies even on narrow, one-lane roads, so if a vehicle’s coming up, you’ll need to back up until the road widens enough to let them by. And even if there’s a cliff on the other side, resist the urge to hug the center line.

Stay hydrated

If you’re not used to high elevations, altitude sickness can cause headaches, lightheadedness, and some nausea. Before you leave home, drink lots of water and avoid dehydrators like coffee.. And when you do begin to climb, take it slow. Pull off at that scenic overlook and enjoy the view.

Your friends at Apollo Insurance Services hope you enjoy your time in the mountains!

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