Need car parts? Select your vehicle
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Road trips are for anyone who wants to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. A quick drive to the beach or campsite is certainly therapeutic, but the view from a mountain is definitely something else.

Mountain driving can be quite tricky because the terrain is a bit complicated. This means that there are a couple of precautions you should keep in mind before embarking on your trip.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know before heading toward the mountains with your daily driver.

Expectations On the Uphill Climb

The mountains are not like your average terrain. Aside from rocky roads and dozens of mud puddles, you’ll also encounter a couple of conditions you won’t find anywhere else.

car performing a morning uphill climb
Mountain driving can be quite tricky because the terrain is a bit complicated.

Endless Signages

Mountainous paths are filled with road signs you should never ignore. Watch out for the small yellow signs that indicate ideal speeds when heading into curves. You’ll also come across warning signs about steep grades that lie ahead.

The Lack of Gas Stations

Not all towns will have a gas station where you can fill up the tank. In most cases, gas stations are miles apart. Be sure to keep extra fuel in your trunk for emergencies.

Wildlife Casually Passing By

Some of the most fascinating things you’ll come across while driving in the mountains are the wild animals.

See also  Better Together: A Guide to Buying Parts in Pairs

However, animals crossing the roads (especially at night) pose a safety risk for drivers, so be sure to exercise caution when driving in the mountains under low-visibility conditions.

Tricky Parking Spaces

When driving in the mountains, you’ll most likely have to park on an incline. Always make sure to activate the parking brake and turn your wheels. This will cause your vehicle to roll into the hill instead of going all the way down in case of brake problems.

Gearing Up

Nothing beats being prepared一regardless of where you’re headed.

So before you hit the road, make sure that you’re up to date with your vehicle’s maintenance tasks. Some of the most important things you should check include the following:

Driving in the mountains can also put the engine under a lot of stress compared to even roads. If you’re planning to drive in the mountains regularly, you might also need to perform your vehicle’s maintenance tasks more frequently than scheduled.

What to Pack

Prepping your vehicle for the road is one thing, but it’s also important to have your essentials during your trip.

You’ll never know what lies ahead in the mountains. You might find yourself riding out the storm or waiting for the roads to clear up before you can get going again. To prepare for such scenarios, pack supplies like water and snacks.

Driving in the mountains also means that repair shops won’t be around (for the most part), so bring a roadside emergency kit in case you run into some trouble with your daily driver.

Lastly, remember that driving in the mountains could affect your GPS and cell signal. Under this circumstance, a physical map is the best one for the job of navigating your route.

See also  How to Tell Positive and Negative Terminals on a Car Battery

Driving Tips

Driving in the mountains is stressful enough as it is for your engine, and not knowing the best practices can damage critical parts. Here are some driving tips you might want to keep in mind before hitting the road.

Use a Lower Gear When Heading Up to the Summit

Uphill climbs can be stressful to the engine. Consider shifting to a lower gear when traversing uphill to help your vehicle maintain a consistent speed.

Take It Slow When Going Down

Always remember that you shouldn’t go down the mountain any faster than you can climb it. Use a low gear when going downhill to avoid riding the brakes.

Never Hog the Center Line

Mountainous regions usually have narrower roads than the ones in the city, making it extremely tempting to drive right in the center of the road.

And although it’ll make your drive a lot faster, it also increases the risk of colliding with an oncoming vehicle that’s doing the same thing.

Always Be Attentive

Cars going uphill should always get the right of way. Give time for these vehicles to make it back to their lanes.

Tailgating is also more dangerous when in the mountains because of the incline. Staying too close to the vehicle in front of you can lead to a collision because gravity can pull it downward.

See also  Underhood Checks

Always maintain a safe distance from other vehicles when traversing uphill.

Keep Your Engine Cool

An activated air conditioning system makes the engine work harder in any situation. Pair it up with an uphill climb, and you’ve got the recipe for an overheated engine.

Aside from turning the air conditioning unit off, it’s also a good idea to let the engine idle for a few minutes once you reach the summit to let it cool down.

Lastly, you can turn the heater to its highest setting to help bleed off the engine’s excess heat.

Dealing with Harsh Weather Conditions

Nature can sometimes be unforgivable. Blizzards, storms, or heavy fog make exploring the mountains more dangerous, which is why you should be extra careful when driving.

Weather conditions change rapidly in mountainous regions. Be sure to bring items like an ice scraper, a small broom, a hand shovel, and some towels to help you steer clear of any windshield obstructions.

If the conditions are too harsh, don’t take your chances and simply wait for them to pass. Your engine should also stay on while waiting.

If your vehicle stalls, it’s best to stay inside than to abandon it. Vehicles are much more visible than pedestrians under low-visibility conditions, so there’s a higher chance of being rescued.

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Automotive Features Reviewer at

Lisa Conant grew up in Canada around a solid contingency of gear heads and DIY motor enthusiasts. She is an eclectic writer with a varied repertoire in the automotive industry, including research pieces with a focus on daily drivers and recreational vehicles. Lisa has written for Car Bibles and The Drive.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

write a review sweepstakes
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

View all Questions & Answers

expand_more Answers BE PART OF OUR COMMUNITY: Share your knowledge & help fellow drivers Join Now
Copyright ©2023, Inc. All Rights Reserved.