Happy February, Foothill Auto Service Family! For this month’s blog, our team wants to put together an informational piece regarding mountain driving & helpful reminders for your safety. Now that the hustle and bustle of the holiday seasons are finally over, what we all could use is a little mountain get-a-way. When planning any mountain driving adventure, the first step is making sure you get to your beautiful destination safely. Mountain driving is hard on cars. If a part is worn, it will likely break while you’re climbing or ascending through the mountains. Resulting in a huge inconvenience & a bill from a tow trucking company. Let’s avoid this and dive into Foothill’s tips for mountain driving.
Check Those Breaks
Your vehicle’s brakes are undoubtedly the most critical safety feature of your car. Your vehicle’s brake system is comprised of a series of mechanical parts designed to wear out. The anti-lock or ABS part of your vehicle’s brake system includes actuators, modulators, and other sensors that make up your ABS braking system. This system will be stressed more on a mountain drive than on regular daily driving. One’s brake pads are made of various materials such as ceramic, organic, or semi-metallic composite. Each time you depress your brake, these pads wear down. As you descend from the mountain’s these pads will wear down faster. Before a long drive, make it a point to see our friendly auto mechanics. All our technicians are highly trained and can be trusted to inspect and ensure quality brake parts are correctly installed and are in top condition before you get back out on the road.
Top Off Fluids
Power-steering fluid is one of the less common fluids in your vehicle. You might be low on this fluid if you begin to hear creaking noises coming from the steering wheel area. The last thing any driver wants is their ability to turn to be difficult when navigating windy roads. Fresh power steering fluid keeps the powerful energy flow within your steering system working correctly. Also, ensure that your brake and transmission fluids are filled and have been changed within the interval recommended for your vehicle. This keeps unwanted moisture out of your vehicle’s systems.
Windshield Wipers- Your Saving Grace
Another crucial part of your vehicle is windshield wipers when driving into the mountains. But when’s the last time you checked yours? When driving in mountain terrain, you expose your car to more dirt, leaves, & other debris that can easily attach themselves to your blades & under the wipers themselves. Make sure to take a clean cloth & wipe them down before your trip & when you get home.
Helpful Hint:You may need to add concentrated windshield washer fluid to the washer fluid reservoir to prevent an icy windshield. More information about this type of windshield washer fluid can be found on the California Air Resources Board website.
The experts at Foothill Auto Service suggest that every 5,000 miles, your tires need rotation, and sometimes more often than that, depending on the make of your vehicle and road conditions. Make sure this is up-to-date before hitting the mountainous terrain. Take this time also to check the condition of your spare tire! You never know when you’ll need it.
Mountain Driving Etiquette
Don’t “hug” the centerline
Mountain roads are almost always narrower than Interstate Highways. Some drivers tend to hug the centerline, but we advise against it. If you embrace the centerline and another center-hugging vehicle comes around a curve from the opposite direction… see what type of dangerous situation could occur?
Slowing down for any reason is a given in the mountains. But make sure you’re not sacrificing the other drivers around you. There are laws in place that prohibit one driver from holding up more than five vehicles behind it- don’t be this person!
Having a first aid kit that is pre-packed in your vehicle is a no-brainer. If you can find room to add a few things into the bag, we suggest you tuck in a flashlight, extra batteries, and a spare phone charger. A handwritten note with your insurance and a tow company and phone numbers of close friends and family, just in case your phone is dead, you cannot make a call, and your passenger needs the information. Keeping a small bag with a travel blanket and a change of clothes, including a high visibility vest, is an excellent idea. You never know when you will be out in the middle of nowhere and need to stay warm. Packing a small rain poncho and a sweater along doesn’t take up much space and can make a world of difference when you need one.
In the case of extreme weather conditions, chains can be required.
According to the California Governments page, “During the winter months, motorists may encounter traction chain controls in the mountain areas within California.” Drivers must stop and put on chains when highway signs indicate chains are required. You can be cited by the California Highway Patrol and fined if you don’t. You usually have about a mile between “Chains Required” signs and the checkpoint to install your chains. For more detailed information on chain controls and chain installation, see their Chain Controls / Chain Installation page.
If you live in or near Lake Forest, CA, you may have heard of Foothill Auto Service, where our ASE-Certified trained auto mechanics specialize in diagnostics and auto repair. Our fearless leader, Glenn, and his team have over 100 years of hands-on auto repair experience combined. Our experienced team provides full-service care for all makes and models. If you have a vehicle and plan a mountain adventure soon or are looking for a preventative maintenance appointment, come into Foothill Auto Service. You will be glad you did! Call us today at (949) 770-5956 or schedule an appointment online.
Thank you for reading our February 2022 Blog!