What to consider before taking your winter road trip

If you're still thinking of hitting the road this winter to take advantage of great snowfall, there a few safety points to consider.

Winter driving means you may have to travel in less than ideal road conditions - think, snow, heavy rain or sleet. 

Before you head off for your winter road trip, it's best to ensure you do a few things before you get going. Daniel Cotterill, Senior Manager, Product Communications at Holden, also shares some handy tips on what to do when you're behind the wheel to help you stay safe and prepared on the road. 

Preparation is key

Don’t drive on empty: It may sound logical and obvious but always ensure your tank is kept at least half full as bad weather can cause unexpected delays, Daniel says. Don't forget to keep your mobile phone charged, too. 

Prepare your car for winter: "Have your dealer or a trusted mechanic do any scheduled service," he suggests. "Make sure your battery, tires, lights, wiper blades and other critical parts are ready for winter. Check tyre pressure, as it can drop as the weather gets colder."

Consider winter tyres: If you're a regular winter-time snow driver or live in areas where roads get icy, winter tyres are a great consideration - even if you have a four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. 

Know your vehicle: "Review the sections of your owner’s manual covering antilock brakes, traction control, and four- or all-wheel-drive (if equipped) to make sure you are comfortable with their operation," Daniel says. 

Stock your car: If you're heading to the snow, you should ensure that you have a snowbrush, ice scraper, snow shovel and abrasive material such as sand or cat litter," he advises. "Jumper cables, a flashlight and emergency flares can help if you encounter unexpected problems and cold weather clothing and emergency blanket or sleeping bag can be critical if you are stuck or stranded."

When you're on the road

In case of a skid: Don’t pump the brakes. Although you may instinctively look for the brakes if you skid out, Daniel warns against this. Instead he advises to look in the direction you want the car to go and steer smoothly in that direction. "For modern vehicles with antilock brakes, maintain pressure on the pedal and let the ABS system modulate the braking" he adds.

If the vehicle gets stuck: If, despite all of your preparation and careful driving, you do becme stuck in the snow, Daniel says that depending on conditions, you can sometimes gently rock the vehicle free. "Turn the steering wheel left and right to clear the area around the front wheels (or using a snow shovel)," he says. "Turn off any traction system. Gently shift back and forth between reverse and a low forward gear, spinning the wheels as little as possible. This creates a rocking motion that may help free the vehicle. However, if after a few attempts you are unsuccessful, it’s important to know when to call for help."

If the vehicle is stranded: If there's no moving your car, Daniel says to call for Roadside Assistance and check the winter driving section of owner’s manual has detailed instructions for intermittently running the vehicle to keep the interior warm. "Be sure to clear snow from the base of the vehicle, especially any snow blocking the exhaust pipe. Open a window about two inches on the vehicle side away from the wind to bring in fresh air," he adds. 

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