4 ways to get your car ready for a winter roadtrip
Posted by: Lydia on 10/06/2021
A winter road trip can be a wonderful way to see a whole new side of Australia. Although the Great Southern Land is fairly famous for its summer trips involving sea and sand, the country has a whole ton to offer when it comes to the cooler months of the year too. There’s very popular pursuits, like visits to the mountains and the snow fields, or more non-traditional offerings, like trips along the coast to take in the raw beauty of our waterways on cold days when there’s no crowds around.
But just as it’s necessary to make special preparations for a summer road trip, an adventure in winter requires particular steps be taken beforehand to maximise the odds of an issue-free journey. These steps are straightforward, but important to do for that extra peace of mind as you back the car out and head off. So whether this upcoming winter will be your first time hitting the road in the cool season, or you’re just keen to bone up on some essential car trip tips, let’s look now at 4 ways to get your car ready for a winter road trip.
1. Check Tyres
A winter road trip can be very hard on your car’s tyres. They’ll take longer to warm up in the cold, can have a harder time finding grip, and any existing issue with them could be exacerbated if they go on a long trip in tough conditions. That’s why it’s critical before setting off on the big journey to get a tyre safety check done, including your spare tyre(s). All being well, they should get a clean bill of health. If, however, there is an issue, getting it addressed before it has a chance to cause danger and delay on the trip is essential.
2. Tyre Chains
Although not as common a sight in Australia as elsewhere in the world, tyre chains can be a key inclusion on a trip through rough wintery conditions. Even if you don’t think they’ll be necessary, if you can’t rule out dealing with snow and ice altogether, then having a set ready to go for use will guarantee if the need arises, there’s the equipment on-hand. This can save time and hassle if snow and ice are suddenly on the path ahead.
3. Get a Comprehensive Check
As well as checking tyres are all in order, a visit to the mechanic before a winter road trip is always wise. Alongside confirming your car is up-to-scratch generally, ideally a quick chat to the mechanic about the winter road trip should occur. Cars are tough machines, and able to travel effectively in a variety of climates. But mentioning the trip will allow the mechanic to point out any cold weather challenges could arise with your vehicle specifically.
4. Have Multiple GPS and Battery Packs
Cold weather can place a strain on many types of batteries and their charging capabilities. If you’ve a GPS, you'll most likely have a way to charge it using the car’s battery while driving. But even so, it’s always smart to pack an additional GPS, as well as some portable battery charging packs (like those you can use for your mobile phone). That way, if there’s either an issue with a GPS’ navigation or battery charging, you’ll have backups in place to use and keep the road trip moving along.
Being Ready for a Fork in the Road
Despite your best intentions and planning, sometimes an issue can arise while out driving. This can be unavoidable - but what can be avoided is a failure to deal with it properly. There’s many variables for what challenges could come up on a road trip, but knowing good safety principles and having a backup plan in mind can be key to getting out of a tricky situation.
Having an alternate route in mind or even an alternate destination - especially given Covid-19 snap border closures and sudden restrictions - is an important part of holiday planning in the pandemic era.
Also be sure to keep extra blankets and other goods on-hand during a winter trip. If you get stranded out in the middle of nowhere and lose heat in your car, suddenly the surrounding temperatures could get very chilly indeed. What’s more, this can even be the case in inhabited areas. For example, Cooma in southern NSW averages temperatures of -2.9°C during winter. So even if you get caught on the side of the road just outside of a town, if you need to wait a while for the tow truck it’s still prudent to have some backup supplies in the boot to help ensure your wait is made more comfortable.
Keeping Cool, Calm, and Collected
Winters will commonly see less people holidaying than in summer, and this can help make a trip very peaceful and enjoyable. But you must factor in the unique challenges that can arise with the colder conditions. This is necessary to ensure if something goes wrong, you’re not left isolated, unable to find a solution to the problem, or freezing out in the elements. It’s here that getting your car ready for the trip beforehand can work wonders.
So be sure to get your tyres checked out before a trip, and also pack a set of snow chains if there’s even a slight possibility you’ll encounter snow and ice. Look to get a comprehensive check of the car done before you go, and pack multiple GPS and battery chargers. Taking these steps can help see you have a fun and problem-free trip. Also be sure to sort out a fantastic playlist to accompany your journey, as you look forward to a winter trip that’ll show you another side of Australia’s amazing natural offerings.
What other tips do you know that are handy for a winter road trip? Let us know in the comments below.