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Winter Holiday Auto Travel Guide

As the winter season approaches and the holidays creep up on us, many Americans are planning to travel to visit friends and loved ones.

How can we best prepare ourselves and our vehicles for a winter road trip? Winter travel can be very demanding, and even more so for those of us that live in warmer climes and may be unaccustomed to the dangers and difficulties of winter conditions.

According to the Federal Highway Administration more than 70% of America’s roads are located in areas that receive more than 5 inches average snowfall annually, and nearly 70% of America’s population lives in these areas – so chances are high that if you don’t already live there, it might be the destination of your trip!

Some important things to consider when preparing for your winter road trip:

  • Be sure to include winter items in your travel emergency kit. Things like blankets, an ice scraper, cat litter to provide traction in slippery conditions, and some lock deicer are good additions.
  • Be informed about weather forecasts along your route. Research the forecast before you leave, and be sure to get updated information every few hours – conditions can change rapidly as you travel.
  • Inspect your tires to be sure they are in good condition and properly inflated. If there is a chance you might need snow chains, acquire these before your trip and familiarize yourself with installing them. Make periodic rest stops to check your tire pressure as cold weather will reduce pressure and temperatures are likely to be changing as you travel.

Lastly, don’t forget to care for your vehicle during and after your trip. In many places where winter conditions are a concern, a salt and sand mixture is used to manage snow and ice on the roads. Salt lowers the water’s freezing point resulting in melting ice even when the air temperature is below freezing. This adds safety to travel, but can cause extensive damage to your vehicle’s body and undercarriage due to corrosion and rust.

Some preventative measures you can take:

  • Visit your mechanic for an inspection prior to your trip. They will be able to detect any issues that should be dealt with beforehand.
  • Waxing your vehicle before winter can provide a protective barrier.
  • Pre-treat your vehicle’s undercarriage with an oil solution pre-treatment that can be sprayed on your vehicle’s exposed parts to prevent salt from sticking to the exposed metal.
  • Wash your vehicle as soon as temperatures permit to remove salt build up. Be sure to choose a car wash or a hand wash that includes an under-spray.

With proper planning and good maintenance, your winter travel can be as safe as possible, and you can focus on enjoying your holiday experience.

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