Winter Road Tripping: Top Tips for Safe Travels

Each of us has our own view of what the holiday season means, although it usually involves some combination of family, friends and food. Many of us will hit the road during the holidays, and road trips can get dicey with winter weather. Before you slide on a jacket and turn the key in the ignition, follow these top tips for safe travels. Nothing puts a damper on the holiday spirit like being stuck on the side of the road.

1. Be Fluid Savvy

Remember all of those dipsticks in the engine compartment? Make good use of them as you winterize the car. The transmission fluid should have a fresh, pink hue without a thick viscosity. Ideally, pull out every dipstick and examine them. If a fluid looks questionable, drain and replace it.

Be sure that the radiator has a 50-50 mixture of antifreeze to water. Cold weather can freeze the radiator if there’s no antifreeze within the system.

2. Pack an Emergency Kit

The Today Show suggests that an emergency kit should be part of your preparations. Add lifesaving items, such as:

  • Blankets
  • Battery charger
  • Bottled water
  • Flares

It’s not enough to just toss the kit into the trunk either. Verify that every item is functional and not expired, especially if you carry canned food. Your holidays will be trouble free with an updated kit in the car.

3. Get Friendly With the Battery and Tires

Nothing drains a battery faster than cold weather. Many of us will head out to our cars at some point this winter only to find a dead battery waiting for us. Check the charge on the battery before driving out on the road. It may be necessary to have a professional check it. If you notice it has any decline in power, replace it. The cold weather will give it a challenge when it’s not entirely fresh.

Winterize the car even further with a tire check. Examine each tire for any damage. Fill them up to the proper pressure too.

4. Get an Oil Change (or do it yourself)

If you’ve already checked the oil, you’re halfway to a perfected engine. During cold weather, however, even slightly older oil can be an issue. Cold weather causes the oil to become thicker, which can damage the engine as the oil lubricates the moving parts. Err on the side of caution by performing an oil change before the holidays. Swap out the oil filter and drain away the old liquid. This task doesn’t take a long time, and it can save the engine from unnecessary strain.

5. Light it Up

Your battery may have a full charge, but that fact doesn’t mean that the vehicle has a perfect electrical system. Turn the car on with the lights set for nighttime use. Walk around the car. Every light should be illuminated. Activate the turn signals and hazard lights too. If you encounter any light issues, replace the bulbs or investigate the wiring system. Being visible on the road keeps you safe.

6. Detail the Windows

A clear view of the road is mandatory during a winter trip. Examine the windshield wipers and washer fluid housed in the engine compartment. Refill the fluid if necessary. Swap out the wipers if they don’t adequately remove moisture from the glass. Bring along rags and extra wipers if icy and snowy conditions are in the forecast. You never know when stopping to clear the windshield may be necessary.

7. Use the Roof Rack

Try to use a roof rack for your personal possessions, stresses Canadian Living. Loose items within the car become projectiles in an accident. Limit the amount of items within the car. Make an exception for certain items, however. Keep important items, such as a battery charger, secured inside the vehicle in case an emergency arises. Without unnecessary items in the car, you’ll also add critical leg space for comfort on the road (and might eliminate some whining from the back seat).

The experts at Northeast Battery can answer any questions about winter preparation before a road trip. Battery tests, replacements and other services are available with our expert guidance. Don’t find yourself stranded this winter. Allow our expertise to guide you through a safe, holiday season