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Winter Road Trip Prep Guide

December 18, 2023 | Lifestyle

As the songs tell you, you can’t beat home for the holidays. While you finish wrapping your presents and packing your bags for your trip home, don’t forget crucial preparations to ensure a safe journey. This blog post will offer a step-by-step guide to preparing for a winter road trip, including tips for winter vehicle maintenance, safe driving, and more. 

Step 1: Perform a Vehicle Check

Before you hit the road, it’s vital to check that your vehicle is in good working condition and prepared for your drive. Inspecting your vehicle can avoid breakdowns and accidents that will add time and stress to your trip.

Winter Car Maintenance Checklist

Before starting your trip, follow this checklist to prepare your car for a long winter’s drive.

  • Check the oil. Start by ensuring your car is off. Find the dipstick, pull it out, and wipe off the oil. Reinsert the dipstick into its tube, pull it out again, and check the oil level, looking at both sides. The oil should be tan, brown, or caramel in color between the two indicator lines.
  • Check your tire pressure. Use an automated case or portable air pressure gauge to check your tire’s PSI. If needed, ensure your tires are filled to the correct PSI indicated on the label inside your door or in your car’s manual.
  • Check your lights. Grab a friend and ensure your brake lights, blinkers, reverse lights, and high beams work correctly.
  • Check your wipers and wiper fluid. Run your windshield wipers and ensure they’re still working correctly. Top off your wiper fluid in its reservoir, found below the hood. 
  • Check your brakes. When in your driveway or an empty parking lot, check your brakes. If you hear strange noises like grinding or something that feels off, have your brakes checked by professional automotive technicians.

Step 2: Create Your Playlist

Driver uses dial to turn up the volume on car’s stereo

Once you’ve ensured your car is in good working order, it’s time to start the fun preparations, like creating a playlist to enjoy on your drive. If you’re traveling with friends or family, consider making a playlist together where you can add some songs you like to listen to. Enjoy some car karaoke together or on your own! If you’re headed to a Christmas party or gathering, make a festive Christmas playlist to get you in the holly jolly spirit.

Step 3: Pack Road Trip Snacks

Road trips, especially long ones, call for lots of snacks. If you’re driving for hours in the car, pack snacks with protein that can keep you full on your drive, like nuts, granola bars, jerky, and peanut butter. You may also want to grab a caffeinated beverage, such as a coffee or energy drink, to keep you alert while driving. Packing your own snacks will save you plenty of time and money making stops at gas stations where food costs a little more than at a grocery store. 

Step 4: Monitor Weather Conditions and Drive Carefully

While you may love to create a winter wonderland with yard decorations, driving through one isn’t so fun. Check the weather conditions for your drive a few days and a few hours before you depart so you’ll be updated on any rain, snow, or storms you may encounter on your route. We also recommend checking traffic conditions to avoid accidents. 

Winter Road Safety Tips

A car dashboard with traction control, parking brake, and ABS lights illuminated

Alt text: A car dashboard has many lights illuminated, including the traction control light, parking brake light, and ABS light.

Driving carefully and cautiously is always essential, but you should take extra care when there’s snow, sleet, or icy roads. While you should avoid driving in ice and snow whenever possible, we do have some tips for how to drive in snow: 

  • Avoid sudden, jerky movements. While turning the wheel, braking, or changing lanes, be slow and gradual. Don’t come to a total stop, but be sure to slow down to make turns. If you are sliding on ice, take your foot off the gas, don’t brake, and gently turn your wheel to correct your direction. 
  • Heed your traction control light. If you’re driving on slippery roads, you may see your traction control light come on, which typically looks like a car with wavy marks. Heed this light and lay off the accelerator to avoid skidding or sliding.
  • Use your hazard lights when necessary. If you begin to slide or skid on the road, turn on your flashing hazard lights to alert nearby drivers.
  • Keep your gas tank at least one-quarter full. Keep a good amount of gas in your tank in case you get stuck in traffic or are otherwise delayed. Unexpectedly running out of gas is troublesome on a nice, sunny day, and it can be even worse in the snow and cold. 

Get Vehicle Storage From Metro Self Storage

If you get home for the holidays and discover that you need a secure place to keep your car, Metro Self Storage has you covered with vehicle storage options. We offer covered car storage, ideal for keeping your car out of the winter weather. Get started today by selecting one of our storage locations and reserving your vehicle storage online. For more information about our self storage solutions, check out our FAQ. Drive safe, and have a magical holiday season!