Mountain scenery is gorgeous, but driving through it presents a host of driving challenges most people don’t face every day. If you’re venturing into the mountains, or just driving up steep, hilly roads, here are CollisionMax approved techniques to rely on to keep yourself and your auto vehicle safe.
Maintain Your Speed Uphill. You’re fighting gravity traveling uphill, so your automobile will naturally lose speed unless you step on the gas. For really long, steep climbs, you may need to downshift to a lower gear to keep up the pace. If you can’t, pull to the right to let faster traffic behind you pass. Remember that at higher altitudes, your engine begins to lose horsepower.
Ease off the Gas at the Crest. Approaching the crest of a hill, ease off the accelerator so you don’t start speeding. This is especially important if the other side is a steep downhill run, or in case you’re suddenly confronted with the need to avoid an auto body collision with a stalled car or an animal.
Keep Your Speed Down on Downhill Curves. It can be hard to judge how fast to take a curve when approaching it from above. Be more conservative than usual when you see a curve ahead, especially tight hairpin turns.
Downhill, Use Engine Braking. Even if they’re in good working order, brakes that are overused can overheat and start to fail, a phenomenon known as “brake fade.” To avoid this auto danger, use a lower gear than you would to maintain the same speed on level ground. If you have an automatic transmission, disengage the “Overdrive.” In a lower gear, the engine’s internal momentum will slow you down.
Don’t Hug the Center Line. Mountain roads are often narrower than Interstate highways. If you keep close to the center line on a curve, you may come face to face with a car coming downhill so fast the driver can’t stay on the right side of the road.
Bring Lots of Water. This is for both your vehicle and you. Long uphill drives can cause your engine to overheat and shut off, in which case you may need to top off your radiator or call for help. Keeping yourself well hydrated is also the key to warding off the effects of altitude sickness, which can strike at elevations as low as 5,000 feet. Symptoms include head and muscle aches, fatigue, drowsiness, dizziness and nausea.