Driving through the Rockies, the Appalachians or the Sierra Nevada mountains are awe-inspiring to say the least. If you’ve never done it, you should.
But, if you’re looking for a comfortable, scenic drive through the prettiest geography our country has to offer, a commercial motor vehicle may not be the way to go. Going through the mountains with any type of unit in tow can be hazardous:
- Ascending a mountain pass is easier than descending but you must be careful your engine doesn’t overheat during the ascent. Select a lower gear and consider turning your AC off to assist in not overheating. Turning your heater on will also help in keeping engine temperatures lower.
- If the road is snow-covered or slippery, don’t follow in the path of the vehicle in front of you unless you can see tire spray. If there is no spray, you should drive a little to the right and go slow and steady, so your drive tires don’t break free.
- Pull off at the top of the pass and let your air build up if you have air brakes. Never start the descent low on air pressure.
- Use lower gears to go downhill. Let your engine and transmission help keep your speed down.
- Don’t ride the brakes. Tap them as necessary.
- Some drivers argue that you can’t smell your own hot brakes but it’s tough to ignore that smell if you’ve been on the brakes a lot. You can always pull off and check your brakes.
- Watch for grade signs. A four percent grade doesn’t sound like much, but it is.
Some drivers may not be aware that many mountain passes contain “runoffs.” There are different styles, but they are all emergency escape routes with signs telling you how close one is. They are a safe haven in an emergency.
You will need a tow truck to get out of an emergency escape area but that’s better than needing an ambulance.