Holiday roadways are full of people traveling to see loved ones — very full! As millions of people head out to visit family and friends this holiday season, it’s important to prepare and learn what to check on your car before hitting the road. Keep your season as merry and bright as the headlights on your vehicle by avoiding these five winter road trip mistakes.
Mistake #1: Leaving too late
Speeding has been a leading contributor to automobile accidents over the past two decades. And running late is among the top reasons for speeding. Combine speeding with unpredictable winter weather, and you have a recipe for disaster. Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination to avoid getting fast and furious on the way to grandma’s.
Mistake #2: Not checking the weather ahead of time
Drivers should check the weather before leaving for any trip. While winter weather can be a bit unpredictable, weather forecasts are fairly accurate — which means one of the biggest mistakes you can make is forgetting to check the forecast before you leave!
Is an incoming ice storm going to hinder your road trip? Will heavy rain put you at a standstill on the highway? Regardless of if you check the forecast or not, weather will happen. But, knowing what to expect and factoring it into your travel plans can help save you loads of trouble — and traffic — down the road.
Mistake #3: Forgetting the road snacks
Whether you’re travelling with kids or riding solo, snacks are a road trip essential in winter! There’s something special about being in your car for hours as the miles stack up behind you while reaching for another handful of delicious snacks. You can — and should — take advantage of the holiday season by packing some festive treats, like white chocolate peppermint pretzels, gingerbread cookies, and anything else that makes you feel those warm and fuzzy holiday feelings.
Mistake #4: Waiting too long before filling your gas tank
As a road trip rule of thumb, it’s best not to let your gas tank get below a quarter of a tank. It can be tempting to blow past that next gas station when you’re making great time. But if another chance to fill up doesn’t come along, or you happen to get stuck in a bad case of holiday traffic, you may end up with an empty tank.
Combat this by keeping your gas above a quarter of the way full. Or, if you’d like to stay even more prepared, fill up around half a tank instead. Keeping topped up can be a huge help if the next gas station isn’t as close as you anticipated.
Mistake #5: Not checking your tires before you leave
There are many things to check on your car before a road trip. But your tires are likely the most important thing on your winter road trip checklist! After all, tires are your biggest ally when it comes to staying safe on wintery roads. If your vehicle’s tires have tread wear less than 2/32 of an inch, are cracking, or are wearing unevenly, it’s likely time for new tires.
But worn tires aren’t the only mistake you can make while driving this holiday season. Driving on the wrong tires during winter can also be dangerous! If your vehicle’s tires aren’t rated for winter driving, it’s best to equip your car with all-weather or winter tires for your holiday road trip.
Firestone WeatherGrip, Winterforce 2 tires, and Bridgestone’s Blizzak winter tires are designed to power through all kinds of rough winter weather. Stop by your local Firestone location, and talk to our tire experts about our top winter models. Or shop online and have your new all-weather or winter tires professionally installed at your closest Firestone Complete Auto Care.