Preparing your vehicle and car tyres for a long winter road trip

Posted by: Cal on 29/04/2014

Category: General

If you think road trips are solely reserved for the summer months, think again - after all, how else will you reach the alpine areas of Australia to make the most of our country's prime skiing and snowboarding opportunities?

Before you hit the road for the ultimate winter road trip, there are a few preparations you will need to make to ensure you are safe. Here are our top tips for preparing your car tyres and vehicle for a winter roadie.

Check your tyres

The very first check you should make is to your car tyres. The roads at home may be no different to summer, but when you head to the alpine areas you may find your tyres have to tackle ice, sleet and snow. All these conditions make it more difficult for tyres to grip the road and for you to remain in control, so making sure your set is well-equipped is essential.

Firstly, you should ensure your tread depth is up to standard. The Australian legal minimum is 1.5mm, but the Automobile Association recommends at least 3mm of tread depth for winter motoring. The more tread depth your tyres have, the more efficient they will be at gripping the road, cornering and braking, particularly in wet conditions - so if your tyres have less than 3mm, it may pay to replace them entirely.

Next up is your tyre pressure. This needs to match the recommended tyre pressure for your particular car model - any more or less, and your vehicle will be less equipped to handle sudden braking, turning and stability on the road. Not to mention, it will also wear your tyres down far more quickly, and waste precious fuel in the process.

Because you're embarking on a long road trip, make sure you check the spare tyre for the above, too, as you never know when you might need it!

Even if you take the time to make all these checks, your tyres may still require some extra help. In alpine resorts and snow fields, you may be instructed to fit snow chains to your tyres by an authorised person, so you need to have a pair that are correctly fitted to your vehicle on close hand.

Make some general checks

Your tyres aren't the only part of your car that needs checking - the entire vehicle should be functioning well, too! Your windscreen wipers will come in handy should your screen become hard to see through due to rain, fog or ice, so these need to be in good working condition or be replaced. Lights, coolant levels, seatbelts, defrosters and your battery, which is more prone to failure in winter, are all other parts of the car that require checking. 

Pack the car

Once you have all the boring stuff ticked off, it's time to get to the fun part - packing up all your gear! If you own them, a snowboard or pair of skis is the perfect accessory for snow bunnies, but you can also hire them at ski resorts and ski fields if you're just starting out. You might also want to bring a toboggan!

Warm clothes are a necessity when heading to less-than-tropical areas, and you need to make sure your entire body is protected from the cold. Pack warm, waterproof jackets, thick woollen socks, a beanie, a pair of sturdy boots or waterproof shoes, gloves, and plenty of layers. Long johns, anyone?

A road trip just isn't complete without a great playlist and some delicious snacks, so make sure you have these, too.

However, there are a few serious essentials you'll need to pack, too. Make sure you have a cloth on hand in case you need to wipe away sleet or ice from your windscreen, a set of jumper leads, a shovel, some extra blankets and a set of fitted snow chains will stand you in good stead.