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December 2015

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The season of ice and snow is upon us, and even if it is unseasonably mild, you know that at some point winter will come. When it does arrive it will do so without much warning.  Having your car winter ready means being prepared for everything the season can throw at you. At this busy time of the season ‘cold’ car maintenance may not be at the top of your ‘to do’ list. But you are going to expect the most from your car at this taxing time of year, so here are some great tips to help you prepare.


Get a deep clean done


Consider it to be a gift to your car!   A good valet now may seem to be a little self-defeating. After all, as soon as you hit the road, you’ll be getting your car all dirty again. But a good valet is not just about shiny showroom looks. It is about clearing away toxic dirt from your paintwork, ensuring that bigger problems do not begin.  A good wax will help protect your car from corrosion.  A serious steam clean around wheels and arches can also show up any likely problems that have been concealed by dirt.  


Every driver and car owner will know how misted up windows can affect vision and safety. The problem is compounded at this time of year with moisture and cold.  Getting clearer windows is all about having them cleaned with a good quality window polish. The difference will be amazing in terms of clarity and it will be much easier to keep your windows clear.


Under the bonnet


This is where the mechanicals really count. If you are the type of car owner who rarely ventures here, this could be a good time to start.  You could always just book a service, but get to know how your car needs to be looked after. You’ll save money and have a better motoring experience.  You should be checking oil levels all year round, so ensure that you have topped up between the two markers on the dipstick. Make sure you are using the correct type of oil for your vehicle.


With freezing temperatures on the horizon, you’ll need to have antifreeze in your cooling system. Ice expands and can wreck your car engine. Antifreeze needs to be a part of your winter check up and ensure it is added in the correct proportions.  While you are here, check all your fluid levels and top up as appropriate. A weak car battery is often the first victim of a cold snap. Ensure your battery is well connected and is in good condition.


Tyres


This is a crucial area to be aware of. Obviously, tyres need to be kept inflated at the correct pressure.  This is particularly true if you are loading the vehicle heavily and going on longer journeys this season.  Make it a weekly habit to check tyre pressures. You should also be aware of the condition of your tyres. The tread should not be worn and at least a few millimetres deep.


This could be a great time to consider your winter tyre options. Winter tyres are much more suited to damp, cold and wet conditions. If fact they can increase your braking distance by up to 50%!  Get a mobile tyre fitting service to come to your home or office to undertake the change.




What to carry with you


When real winter conditions strike, it pays to be prepared. Make sure you have these in your boot or trunk when you travel.


If you are venturing into high altitudes then carry snow chains. This can make the difference between a getting to your destination or having to abandon a journey.  Ensure you have a spade or shovel. If you get stuck, this can help you dig out and get you back onto firmer ground. It’s a good idea to be carrying an eco-friendly de-icer as well as a blanket or two or even a sleeping bag.  Getting caught in a snow storm will be no fun without some way of keeping warm.


Finally it pays to see and be seen.  Make sure all lights on your car are in working order and carry spare bulbs with you. Know how to fit these. This is a steep learning curve in the dark at night. Most people will have phones with them so it is easy to call for assistance if you need to. Make sure your phone is charged up before your journey.  Invest in a separate flashlight and torch.  A flashing hazard facility can be useful to warn other vehicles if you have inadvertently stopped. A hazard triangle is another great tool for being visible.


Be safe and be seen this winter and have an enjoyable motoring experience.

If you love to drive, then how does the idea of a road trip sound?  The wind in your hair, the scenery drifting by, the majesty of the country in front of you. Of course, you’ll need to feel comfortable driving long distances.  And you’ll need to make sure your car is up to the task since you’ll be putting it through its paces.
Now, there’s dozens of incredible road trips you can take across the USA.  But for starters, here’s five wonderful ideas to get you on the road:

Cruise the Columbia River Scenic Highway

Most highways are very dull to drive on and give you little of interest to look at.  You can either find that experience stressful, or mind numbingly boring.  However, this highway was very much built with something else in mind – the scenery.
This highway takes you on a 75 mile journey.  Along the way you’ll see incredible mountain views, and even waterfalls.  And don’t worry about taking your eyes off the road.  Why?  Because there’s plenty of places for you to pull over.  Remember, this highway is designed as a scenic route!
But of course make sure you get here when the weather’s nice.  No scenery looks majestic when it’s drizzling!


But of Course: Route 66

Sadly, much of this two-lane highway no longer exists in its original state.  Such is the march of progress.  Fortunately however, some areas of the country have made sure to preserve this famous route as it was.
This is particularly wonderful if you’re a film lover.  As you travel down this road, again and again you’ll recognise scenery from movies.  Think of a famous road trip movie?  Chance are, they’ve travelled down Route 66.
Of course, you don’t have to travel the entire length of the highway.  But it’s recommended you do go right to the start of this highway.  That’s in Illinois, and among other things you’ll find the Route 66 Association Hall of Fame.


Travel through Hill Country Hideaways in Texas
Since Texas is just so huge, the differences from one area to the next can be profound.  Well, this region of Texas is quite central, with awe inspiring scenery.  You’re far from the bight lights and smog of the city here.
With this route, you’ll pass through plains, along deep rivers, and in by inspiring canyons.  And be sure to plan ahead for places to stay, since Texas could keep you driving for days!


But again, make sure your car is up to the journey.  The last thing you want is to have to get towed from the middle of nowhere.  So consider a car hire option like Prestige Keys Super Car Hire if you need to feel secure about the car lasting the journey.

The Great River Road

Consider following the Mississippi River.  Start at the north and work your way down.  And during this journey you’ll find the landscape changing significantly.  So you can expect hills, flats, and even far more challenging landscapes.

The Million Dollar Highway

This particular stretch of highway becomes elevated at more than two miles above sea level.  And the reason for the name of this section of highway is because it travels between gold-mining towns from the old west.

So consider these five road trip ideas as a perfect starting point to plan your next vacation.