We’re pretty lucky here in Australia. Our winters are usually fairly mild, and you probably won’t ever find yourself digging your car out of a huge snowbank the way they do in the northern hemisphere.
Of course, there are still some challenges to driving here in winter. Dealing with low visibility in rainy and foggy weather, battling icy roads, even just starting the car on cold mornings – the list goes on.
Luckily, we’re here to help you stay safe with our top tips for winter-proofing your vehicle. We’ve also got some space-saving packing hints to carry your bulkier winter wardrobe on your long-awaited snowy road trip.
Get your car through winter unscathed
Winter is a time when your vehicle needs a little extra TLC to keep it running smoothly. It sounds straightforward, but regularly running your car – as well as cleaning it – is a great start. This helps keep build-up from mud, snow or ice at bay.
A full car service at the beginning of winter is also an important measure, as your mechanic or automotive professional can ensure that important elements like coolant and oil are topped up and your engine and electrical systems are working well.
You should also keep an ice scraper in the car’s glovebox to get rid of any early morning frost build-up on your windscreen. A bottle of de-icer (or anti-freeze) in the boot can come in handy too.
How to tackle icy roads
Driving on icy roads can be an unnerving prospect for less confident drivers, but unfortunately it is a common issue during the winter months.
Reducing your speed is the number-one way you can counteract any close-calls – or simply avoid driving on icy roads whenever possible! However, if you have to drive on the ice and you find your vehicle is sliding, don’t panic. Experts advise turning your wheels in the direction that the back of your car is sliding, and this should steady your car.
Another top tip when driving on icy roads is to take it easy on your brakes. A common knee-jerk reaction to going into a slide is to immediately slam on the brakes – but this can actually cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Instead, use the previously mentioned tips to correct the car while keeping everyone safe.
Hit the snowfields safely
No matter if you’re heading to one of our big boys like Mount Buller, Mount Hotham or Thredbo, or one of our lesser-known Aussie peaks, snow-proofing your vehicle is of paramount importance to get you there and back safely. So ensure your tyres are at their recommended pressure, and make sure there is anti-freeze in the cooling system. If your windscreen wipers are a little on the worn-out side, it may also pay to invest in a new set that will keep your vision unobscured on winter roads.
You will also need to fit snow chains to your driving wheels when you’re travelling through snow-affected areas. If you don’t have your own, you can hire them from a number of places around the snowfields. Just make sure you drive slowly with them on to avoid tyre damage.
If fitting snow chains to your tyres is an intimidating concept, be sure to consult with an expert before you travel. They will teach you to fit them correctly, so you reach your destination without any icy close calls.
Of course, if you’re looking to hire one of Thrifty’s vehicles for your snowy road trip, you will need to purchase a Snow Pass. This is an optional extra that allows our customers to drive above the snow line. Available at select Thrifty locations, it is priced from $22.00 – $27.50 (depending on your vehicle pick-up location) and is available in conjunction with selected Thrifty protection options.
Seamless, space-saving packing
Winter clothes, skis, snowboards and the like take up a considerable amount of space in your car – and depending on the size of your vehicle, fitting it all in can be a recipe for disaster.
If you’re looking to save space, the easiest way is to simply pack less. You can get away with this during winter, as thick coats and jumpers can be worn multiple times without the need to be washed. You can also get away with only taking one or two pairs of warm boots that can be worn every day. Meanwhile, rolling your clothing instead of folding it is a surprisingly good way to space-save in your suitcase.
Just ensure you have the mandatories. Blankets, gloves, beanies, thermal clothes and multiple pairs of thick socks are all musts, while an emergency kit in the event of an unexpected breakdown should also be at the top of your list. Make sure you have extra oil, a torch and additional fuel to avoid the need to take a very chilly hike to the nearest town if you are venturing into more rural areas.