Even if you have only survived one winter season in Massachusetts, you understand how important it is to prepare your vehicle for travel during the winter months. But before you go over the river and through the woods this holiday season, it is important to do a little extra preparation for a winter road trip. The last thing you want to do is get halfway to your destination only to suffer a breakdown, blowout or worse.
Here are 12 things you should do to prepare your vehicle for a winter road trip:
#1 – Get a Check-up
Take your vehicle in to the shop for a complete check-up before you head out of town on a winter road trip. Ask the mechanic to check all of the important areas – brakes, tires, exhaust system, oil, lights, defroster and, of course, the heating system.
#2 – Check the Belts
Make sure to also check the belts and hoses in your vehicle for wear and tear. Take time to replace anything that looks worn out before you leave on your winter road trip.
#3 -Test Your Battery
Make sure to get your battery tested. While even new batteries should be tested for a road trip during the winter season in Massachusetts, batteries that are three years old or more should definitely be tested. Most auto parts stores will test this for you for free. Before you test, take time to clean the connections and posts.
#4 – Change the Oil
Make sure to change the oil in your vehicle just prior to a winter road trip. If you do oil changes yourself, make sure to find out which type of oil is best for your vehicle during extreme winter cold conditions. Colder temperatures can cause oil to thicken. If you get your oil change done at the dealer or an oil change shop, make sure to ask about the best oil for your road trip under cold weather conditions.
#5 – Check the Antifreeze
While this should be done when you get a check-up done on your vehicle, make sure to check the antifreeze yourself before any type of winter road trip. You should always use a half-n-half mixture of antifreeze and water to prevent your radiator from freezing even in the coldest temperatures. You can even test the condition of the antifreeze in your engine using a small, very affordable plastic gadget from your local auto parts or hardware store.
#6 – Inspect the Wiper Blades
In the event of rain or snow, you will definitely be relying on your wiper blades to keep your view of the road as clear as possible. Make sure to inspect your wiper blades and then replace any that are worn before heading out for the winter season in Massachusetts.
#7 – Check the Gas Tank
Believe it or not, we are often so preoccupied with everything else that we forget to check the gas tank. During the winter months and especially during a winter road trip, don’t leave anything to chance. When your tank gets down to the half-way mark, pull in and fill up with gas. Not only will it help to provide you with necessary heat, should you break down on the road, but by keeping your gas tank half full you will keep the lines from freezing due to condensation build-up in cold temperatures.
#8 – Inspect the Tires
Again, despite the fact that your tires should get checked during step one, the check-up phase, you should still take a good look at your tires before heading out on a winter road trip. Replace any tires that are worn or unevenly wearing. Make sure to check your tires throughout your trip. Tire pressure can decrease during cold weather and in icy-snowy conditions, under-inflated tires can be very dangerous. Use winter tires for travel during the winter season in Massachusetts to improve traction and braking on slick roads.
#9 – Make a Survival Kit
A winter road trip can be exciting, but it can also be dangerous. Make sure to pack a winter survival kit that can help you in case of emergency. Kitty litter or sand can be used to help get your tires unstuck in slush and snow. Other important tools include a shovel, an ice scraper, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, road flares, candles, a small tool kit, booster cables, a tow rope, extra shoes and socks, a change of warm clothing for each person in the vehicle, a blanket, a jug of fresh water, a flashlight and batteries, paper towels and food items, such as nuts, raisins and granola bars.
#10 – Prepare for Emergencies
Make sure that your cellphone is fully charged throughout the trip. Get a car charger to keep it charged up while you are driving and a wall charger to plug in when you rest at a hotel or reach your destination. Make sure important numbers, such as road side assistance, traffic reports or weather information are programmed into your phone.
#11 – Make Plans
Before you leave on your winter road trip, make sure to plan the route you are going to take in advance. Print out driving instructions and get a road map to keep in your vehicle just in case there are detours or road closures. Always use main roads, which are much more likely to be salted or sanded and plowed during bad weather conditions. Make sure you have a family member that knows the route you are taking and the time that you are expected to arrive in case anything goes wrong.
#12 – Be Properly Insured
Talk to your insurance agent in Fall River to make sure that your auto insurance policy is up to date so you will be covered in case of emergency. If you are renting a car for your winter road trip, check with your agent to find out whether or not you are covered or if you should purchase a rental auto insurance policy. When driving during the winter season in Massachusetts – even in your own hometown – make sure to adhere to safe driving rules and guidelines to prevent accidents associated with bad seasonal weather.
Call Sullivan Insurance in Fall River to find out more about getting an auto insurance policy that will cover everything you want to do this winter season. They also offer a wide variety of other personal insurance policies, including homeowners insurance, flood insurance, jewelry insurance, antique auto insurance and more. Call them today at 508-678-9611 and speak with your insurance agent in Fall River for more valuable tips before you take your next winter road trip.