There’s snow on the hills, the ski areas are open and it’s time to head to the slopes. Exciting! But we do have to make sure we get there and back, safely. Here’s a few winter driving recommendations if you're planning a winter road trip or driving to the slopes.
Before you go
It’s very important that you, and your vehicle are ready for driving in winter and mountain conditions. Please check the following before you venture out.
Your windscreen should be spotless both inside and out to reduce sunstrike. Buy an ice scraper (although a credit card works well!) and get a microfiber cloth for inside.
Be prepared, take a small shovel, jumper cables and a tow rope. Maybe also a tarpaulin or old jacket for lying on when fitting chains.
Make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas, just in case …
Check the forecast – is a storm about to arrive? Check the winter warnings at www.metservice.com
And check the road conditions, both getting there and on the mountain. NZTA can provide information on state highways and passes, ski areas will have a report for their road. So check them both.
And you must have chains. Before you leave, practice fitting them. Believe us, this is SO much easier than in the dry and warmth!
Getting to the Mountain
Winter driving can be trickier. Often it’s darker when we’re travelling, and weather may also affect visibility. Road conditions are also more crucial and it’s important to try and understand the conditions. Has it been a clear frosty night? Then watch for black ice, especially in damp areas, such as shady tree lined sections of roads.
Be visible. Drive with your headlights on.
Be patient. Extend the 3-second (following) rule to maybe 8 seconds. It does take longer to slow down, and braking accidents are the most common in wet or icy conditions.
Be alert. Always drive to the conditions – this may sound obvious but can be easily forgotten
Drive Safely. Avoid sudden braking, Drive slowly, Avoid sudden direction changes, and Look for shiny, wet patches on the road
On The Mountain
Make sure you are a confident driver on snow, there may be someone who is in your group that you can add as an additional driver. You can park lower down the mountain and catch a shuttle or take one of the lower lifts up. Here are a few tips for driving mountain roads.
Observe all signs, such as “fit chains here”. It is better to put chains on early, than too late. And note, even four wheels drives often need chains.
Drive slowly and surely and avoid braking if possible. Skids are more likely to happen when braking.
Try not to stop when going uphill, unless you have to. Often it’s hard to get going again and you risk sliding.
This might be obvious, but use a low gear. This is especially important coming downhill, and in an automatic, you may wish to change out of “D” into “1” and use the engine to brake you as you come downhill.
And finally... Safety (and Knowledge) in Numbers
Travelling with companions is always a good idea in winter. The combined knowledge and experience of a group will always outweigh that of an individual. Remember that innovations like 4WD, ABS and ESP are only there to aid in accident avoidance – they cannot override inexperience or lack of attention.
With a little planning and armed with knowledge, you’ll soon gain experience driving in the Winter.
To help you make the most of your snow chain experience, we've compiled some valuable tips for their effective use:
Familiarise Yourself: Prior to your trip, take a few moments to understand the process of installing snow chains on your vehicle. This knowledge will save you time and effort when you encounter snowy or icy roads.
Practice Makes Perfect: If you're new to using snow chains, it's wise to practice installing them in a controlled environment, such as your driveway or a parking lot. This will help you become more comfortable and proficient before tackling the real challenges on the mountain roads.
Safety First: While snow chains provide enhanced traction, it's essential to adjust your driving style accordingly. Drive at a safe and cautious speed, especially around corners, and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.
Compatibility Check: Ensure that the snow chains you rent or purchase are suitable for your vehicle's tire size. Ill-fitting chains can cause damage to your tires and compromise your safety on the road.
At Bargain Rental Cars, we are committed to providing you with a safe and memorable mountain experience. That's why we offer snow chains as an additional accessory for your rental vehicle. Our knowledgeable team is always ready to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have regarding snow chains or your upcoming winter adventure. Your safety and peace of mind are our top priorities.
As you prepare to embark on your mountain getaway, don't forget to include snow chains in your rental order with Bargain Rental Cars. Before you head up the mountain, trust Bargain Rental Cars to equip you with everything you need for a successful and enjoyable trip. Our commitment to your safety extends beyond just providing reliable rental vehicles. We strive to be your trusted partner throughout your snow adventure, offering top-notch customer service, advice, and the necessary tools to navigate the wintry roads with confidence.
So, gear up, grab your skis or snowboards, and get ready for an unforgettable journey through the snow-capped peaks.
Happy travels and exhilarating skiing from the Bargain Rental Cars team!
Check out our video on how to fit snow chains below:
See video below on how to fit snow chains - Quick and Easy