Although they look beautiful on postcards, mountains are dangerous places. They’re dangerous for hikers, small aircraft, and motorists. They’re the one place where being in a car doesn’t necessarily guaranty a safe passage.

Their main problems are sudden storms, the effect of altitude on your engine’s performance, and the steep grades, which are hard on your engine while going uphill, and hard on your engine and brakes while going downhill. The consequences of losing control can be a devastating car accident. Keep these four tips in mind when driving through the mountains this summer:

Be Prepared

Although you’re driving on a highway, you are otherwise traversing a remote area. Most mountain passes don’t have tourist conveniences. Therefore, make sure your car is in good condition by fixing any outstanding mechanical problems beforehand. Good brakes and a good engine cooling system are a must. Bring food, water, and warm clothing. Don’t count on your cell phone for getting you out of emergencies because you may not have cell coverage. Make sure you start your trip with a full tank of gas.

Be Prepared Before Reaching Turns and Downgrades

The greatest danger of downgrades is losing control of your vehicle. Don’t wait until you’re on a downgrade before braking and downshifting. Anticipate downhills by slowing down and going into a lower gear before reaching the hill. Waiting until you’re gaining speed on a downgrade will heat up the brakes and stress your transmission. The same rule applies when approaching a downhill turn. Slow down before entering the turn.

Use Your Engine for Keeping Your Speed Under Control on Downgrades

If you’re using an automatic transmission, you can proceed in a lower gear by shifting into “2” or “l.” Shift into a lower gear if you have manual transmission. Always use your engine’s transmission for keeping your speed under control. Where needed, apply firm pressure to the brake pedal to quickly bring your speed down to five mph lower than needed, then release the brake. Repeat this process when your speed picks up. This method gives the brakes a chance to cool off. Never apply steady nonstop braking because it will overheat your brakes.

Keep an Eye on Your Engine Temperature When Climbing

If the engine is running warmer than normal, turn off your air conditioner and turn on your heater to its highest setting. The air conditioner makes the engine work harder, while turning on the heater draws off some of the engine’s excess heat. When you reach a turnout, park the car and let the engine idle until it returns to its normal temperature.

If you require legal advice because another motorist injured you in an accident, contact us at Hogan Injury for a free consultation.

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