Mountain roads can put a lot of strain on your vehicle. Driving uphill requires the engine to output a lot of power, and driving downhill can also cause wear and tear. Use these mountain-driving tips to reduce strain on your clutch and brakes during your next road trip.
1. Drive Uphill in a Lower Gear
When driving up a steep hill, it is essential to keep your car in a low gear. The lower the gear, the more power the vehicle can use to get up the hill. Using a low gear makes it easier to drive uphill at a steady speed, which minimises the risk of accidents. Being in too high a gear creates a risk of juddering or stalling, which can be dangerous if the road is busy.
2. Stay in a Lower Gear for Downhills
As low gears are better for going uphill, you might assume that higher gears are the best option for downhills. However, this is not the case. Keeping the car in a low gear on the way down a hill helps to slow the vehicle down, which is important for safety. Using a low gear to slow your car down means you do not need to rely solely on the brakes, which reduces wear and tear on the brake pads.
Choosing which gear you want the car to use is second nature if you drive a manual vehicle. In an automatic vehicle, you will need to select "L" or "2" to force the car to use a lower gear.
3. Avoid Riding the Brakes
When driving in the mountains, fight the temptation to "ride the brakes," which is a term that means lightly pressing the brake with your foot for a long period of time. Riding the brakes causes overheating and could even burn out the brake pads.
A safer braking strategy involves firmly applying the brakes when you want to slow down. If you are tempted to ride the brakes, instead use a lower gear to consistently limit the car's speed.
4. Avoiding Riding the Clutch
Most drivers know that "riding the clutch" (keeping their foot lightly on the clutch pedal all the time) is poor driving technique, but it is easy to get into this bad habit when you drive in a mountainous region. Often, drivers ride the clutch because they are unsure which gear to use. Commit to using a low gear and stick to it until the road flattens out.
5. Don't Put Off Brake Repairs
If your brakes aren't as responsive as they used to be, you need to get them repaired before you embark on a mountainous drive. Relying solely on your clutch to slow you down in a mountainous region is bad for your transmission and also extremely dangerous.
Reach out to a clutch and brake repair shop to learn more.