Vehicles, like you, like to stretch their legs and breathe some clean air. In Virginia, that especially means mountain air. For BMW, Mini and Mercedes-Benz vehicle owners who leave our cityscapes behind, all year-round, mountain road tripping captures our senses. But like any drive, proper preparation and a partnership between you, the driver, and your automotive shop, as your pit crew, is paramount.
Here are five ways you can optimize your enjoyment and vehicle’s hassle-free performance when you head for the hills:
Be Weather Aware — Mountain weather and subsequent road conditions can change suddenly and often. The elements themselves present challenges, and they can also prompt road debris, flooding, mudslides and more. So be aware, alert and ready to adapt. Check weather reports on your radio or phone app often; be ready to adjust your speed and adjust your following distances; keep your lights on and gas tank half full or more; and store a “go” box in your trunk filled with season- and condition-appropriate emergency supplies, including flares, extra water, wiper fluid, blankets, candles and some healthy snacks. Should you encounter a road closure or get stranded, your basic creature comforts are covered.
Grip Matters — Maintaining your vehicle’s grip and control is driving smart. Just as the soles of your shoes provide grip and control, your tires and brakes do the same for your vehicle. To be sure-footed, your wheels should be correctly aligned and your tires should have adequate tread and be properly inflated to the automaker-specified air pressure. Keep a lookout for signs on mountain roads. Pay attention to, and heed the warnings about curves, steep hills, falling rocks and other road hazards, especially if you encounter inclement weather.
Be Mindful — There’s no doubt that BMW, Mini Cooper, and Mercedes-Benz owners value performance. Driving pleasure in the moment is part of that for sure. But so too is durability or performance. Savvy drivers recognize that the balance of driving style, vehicle durability and performance vary with road conditions. Like athletes at high altitude, mountain driving can make it hard for your vehicle to breathe. Engine combustion can suffer, resulting in less power and acceleration than normal when climbing a steep grade or trying to merge or pass. In addition, driver fatigue can occur sooner, so build extra rest breaks into your mountain trip. Take a few moments as you’re preparing for your trip to tune your driving to a mountain mindset.
Understand How Your Vehicle Behaves — Mountain driving stresses many of the vehicle systems your car is equipped with. Before you leave, take the time to get informed about and internalize how mountain driving differs from city trips. For example, excessive brake use when repeatedly slowing or stopping on downgrades can result in braking power to fade or even disappear l just when you need it most. Climbing upgrades also puts your vehicle’s engine, transmission and driveline under increased loads. You can mitigate both by turning off cruise control and driving in a lower gear. That way you won’t compromise safety. For instance, watch this video to learn how driving through a pothole can damage your vehicle.
Trust Your Pit Crew— We’ve covered your role in preparing for a mountain trip. But there’s one more component to having a stress-free, safe and enjoyable drive: You need a reliable and affordable automotive shop that can ensure your vehicle’s air conditioning, steering, suspension, engine cooling, lighting and other critical systems are mountain-ready. Whether mountain driving advice, a pre-trip inspection or making sure vehicles as safe and sound, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Mini owners in Richmond, VA, and surrounding communities count on The Shop VA to keep their vehicles ready to go — wherever and whenever.
Whether you’re already a client, or you’re looking for a automotive shop you can trust and rely, before you head for the hills, call us, drop by orschedule an appointment online with The Shop VA in Richmond, VA. We’d love to be your year-round partner and work with you to create a sound maintenance plan based upon your specific circumstances, driving style and destinations. That’s our job; we do it every day.