Your Daily Drive
Seven wellness tips for your mountain car
By Mandy Murry
Who doesn’t love a good mountain drive? Travelers from around the world enjoy the Blue Ridge Parkway, Tail of the Dragon, and various other western North Carolina mountain roads, and we get it- the plateau is well known for numerous scenic routes and waterfall destinations begging to be discovered. While we may not have the tall, jagged peaks of the West, our area can offer some driving challenges, from maintenance to good road manners. Russell Marling at Highlands Automotive was kind enough to provide some tips to keep you and your car safe this summer.
#1 - Brake My Stride
“I cannot stress enough the importance of downshifting. The number one service need in the area is brake maintenance and repair.” When driving down hills, use your downshift versus riding your brakes. Riding your brakes will eat them up and cause overheating.
#2 - High Maintenance
“Every vehicle has a recommended maintenance schedule. Adherence to the schedule will help your car last as long as possible.” Depending upon the vehicle you drive, your maintenance schedule may vary. It is essential to have regular maintenance. Checking fluids, sticking to the maintenance schedule, rotating tires and replacing windshield wipers can help the reliability of your car. We all know how it can fall a flood here in the mountains, which means your vehicle needs to be at optimal performance at every level at all times.
#3 - Under Pressure
“Do not drive on underinflated tires. Period.” Running on lower tire pressure will wear out tires sooner. Go off of the manufacturer’s recommended pressure. “Here in the mountains, we deal with temperature and elevation changes and challenges. That is why we adjust tire pressure a couple of PSI above what the manufacturer recommends.”
#4 - First Class
A quick lube is okay in a pinch. However, a full-service automotive specialist will provide you with more in-depth information and knowledge about your vehicle and its service. Think of it this way, do you want the hotel turndown service, or we’ll leave “the light on” service? A full-service shop will actively care for your car with an extensive checklist, testing of brakes and much more. It is a better option for preventing issues, making it less likely you will have a surprise issue pop up while you are on the road.
#5 - Sooner or Later
Most drivers exclusively travel for short trips on the plateau, and there is not much long-distance driving. Short journeys, such as from home to dinner or home to the grocery store, contaminate your oil a lot sooner. “Many manufacturers are recommending 10k oil change intervals. That is fine for highway driving. With short trips, you never burn condensation out of the crankcase, which can mean you never get to a sustained operating temperature, resulting in contaminated oil.” Stretching out your oil change could cause just enough long-term damage that could show up after your warranty expires, causing more problems in the end.
#6 Slow Down, Be Courteous.
We love visitors and people moving to the area, but it can hinder traffic and infrastructure. Be considerate and respectful while driving. Slow down on curves. If you see something (a bird, a bear, a waterfall, etc.), do not stop in the middle of the road- pull off or turn around. If you are driving slow, pull over and let the person behind you pass. “We all want to visit Dry Falls, and backed up traffic happens a lot. Only so many people will fit. Let’s share and take care of our natural resource.”
#7 Don’t Ignore the Nudge
If you have a tire light on, don’t ignore it.