Well, it’s a winter weekend, and like many Australians we are heading to the snowfields in our Mazda CX-5. Driving in alpine conditions can present some unique challenges, so to help you get the most out of your trip, here are our top 10 tips for driving to the snow.
#1 Use your roof racks
Mounting your skis or snowboard to the roof rack – there is no deadest rule as to whether you mount them facing up or down.
#2 Check snow chains
Most mountains will require you to carry snow chains, even on an AWD car like our CX-5.
Make sure they are the right size for your car, and remember, they fit to the driving wheels. That’s easy on a 2WD car, but for most AWD vehicles – including our Mazda - they will go on the front.
#3 Safety equipment check
Make sure you have everything you need if there is an emergency or need to stop in the snow. A tarp, spade, gloves, torch – are all great to have in the boot.
#4 Car check-up
It never hurts to give the car a quick check over too – make sure you have anti-freeze additive in your wiper fluid and your coolant levels are OK. Check your tyre tread and lights too.
#5 Take a break
We’re heading to Mount Buller, which is about 3-hours from Melbourne. It’s good to break up the driving to stretch your legs and have a quick snack.
#6 Alpine diesel
If you have a diesel car – like we do – top up with Alpine Diesel when you get close to the mountains. Alpine diesel helps to prevent wax build up, which can clog your filters.
#7 Slow and steady
Ice and water can all make the road very slippery – even with an AWD car, and the mountain access roads tend to be narrow – and often shared with busses and trucks. Drive carefully and if you are worried about traction, make sure you make no sudden driving inputs – from the brake, throttle or steering. Being smooth is being safe.
#8 Car park car care
If you are parking your car for a couple of days, leave the wipers up so the rubber doesn’t freeze to the glass – it’s a 50/50 argument. If you put them up they won’t freeze to the glass, but it rarely gets cold enough for that to happen. Never use them to clear the ice from the windscreen as that will damage them. Best not to put the handbrake on either.
#8.5 Enjoy your weekend away
Get out there and have fun, explore the Mount Buller village, have a go at snowboarding, and we were also lucky enough to catch a sled dog race.
#9 Clear snow slowly
Before heading off, clear all the snow from your car roof and glass – Don’t put hot water on cold windscreen to melt ice - can crack it. Just run the heater in the car and the demister. It’s illegal not to remove snow from the roof – so make sure you don’t skip this step - it makes it safer for you, as well as other road users.
#10 Warm up
Make sure you warm the car up for a few minutes and check that everything works and feels OK. It’s a great time to try out those heated seats too!
Now it’s the long drive back home – so take care down the mountain, stop to rest if you need and stay safe!