Four Tips for Driving the Hills of Cincinnati
If you’ve ever driven through Cincinnati, we’re sure that your car has struggled to get up and down all of the hills. Furthermore, you may have found yourself traveling up the 1,549-foot Campbell Hill, or perhaps you traveled a couple hours to Mount Mitchell.
Either way, there are many ways your can prepare for a trip through a hilly or mountainous area. Whether it’s by checking your vehicle’s mechanics or stocking up on provisions, there are several ways to improve your overall experience. Before you head out to King’s Auto Mall for a new car, learn how you can adapt your current (or future) ride for Cincinnati’s terrain…
Assure That Every Aspect of Your Vehicle is Working
There are are no specific tires that are designed specifically for driving on hills, although they can certainly play an essential role in how your vehicle operates while driving up or down a slope. Whether you realize it or not, you’ll be relying on your tires for increased traction, which will play an important role in naturally slowing down your vehicle. Regardless of the weather, it’s important to make sure your tires are in top-top shape before you travel through a hilly or mountainous area.
The same goes for your brakes, as you’ll probably be using them more than usual to get down the steep decline. While replacing the brake pads (or any corresponding part) can certainly be pricey, you can still protect yourself by assuring that the brake and transmission fluids are filled adequately. If you haven’t changed the oil in a while, the fluid may take on significant moisture and contaminants, which will greatly reduce the boiling level. The fluid is already going to be hot as you frequently operate the brakes, and you’ll see the negative effects (like reduced braking efficiency) earlier if the boiling point is low.
There are several other parts of your vehicle that you want to make sure are working properly prior to your trip. When you get to a high elevation, you’re going to be relying on your defroster and heater, so assure that the corresponding fluids are topped off. Furthermore, you’ll need your windshield wipers, so don’t want until AFTER the trip to get them repaired. We promise you, you’ll regret not having the wipers while traveling on mountains.
Be Vigilant of Your Speed
This piece of advice is more complex than just making sure you’re not rushing down a hill, although we’d certainly suggest that you’re overly cautious with your speed. A general rule of thumb is to travel the same pace up the hill or mountain as you would down, which will assure that you’ll be traveling at a safe speed.
Furthermore, you don’t want to manipulate your downhill speed with the brakes. Shift to either ‘S’ or ‘L,’ which should automatically reduce your vehicle’s speed. The only time you should be applying the brakes while traveling downwards is to shift to a lower gear. Otherwise, you should rely on the natural traction to slow down your vehicle… unless, of course, the corresponding parts aren’t operating properly. In this situation, you’ll probably need the brakes.
Furthermore, it’s perfectly acceptable to reduce your speed to take in and appreciate the surrounding landscape. However, you’ll want to be vigilant of your surroundings. You don’t want to hold up traffic, even if it’s a single vehicle, as this could ultimately result in a collision. If vehicles are beginning to stack up behind you, pull over and allow the cars to pass.
Finally, an unwritten rule of mountain and hill climbing is to let the car going uphill have the right of way. Especially when your higher up, you’ll want to allow extra time for these fellow drivers to pass, as your horsepower and braking ability will be reduced the higher up you are.
Believe it or not, there are several ways you can manipulate your vehicle to get the ultimate driving experience. For example, when you’re traveling on a steep incline, you’ll want to downshift to a lower gear. This may result in the engine heating up, so make sure you keep your eye on the temperature gauge. If you notice an increase, the air-conditioning should help the unit from overheating. However, if this doesn’t work, pull over and allow your engine to cool down (while keeping the car at a fast idle).
You also don’t want to “hug” the center line considering that most mountain and hill roads are generally more narrow than usual roads. If two center-hugging vehicles are traveling in opposite directions, a crash would likely occur. If not, both vehicles may be forced to readjust, which could just result in another accident. When traveling up or down hills (especially around corners), it’s best to stick towards the side of the road.
Finally, if you’re going to do some off-road exploring, keep in mind that unpaved roads provide significantly less traction, meaning you’re more susceptible to losing control. If you are going to ride these lesser-traveled paths, make sure you take it slow, especially on curves.
This isn’t as important if you’re traveling through a hilly area, but if you’re taking a trek up a mountain, you’ll want to make sure that you’re stocked up on extra drinking water. A lack of hydration can lead to altitude sickness, so it’s important to drink throughout the day. Furthermore, you never know when your car will decide to call it quits and leave you stranded. There’s no telling how long you may be on the side of the road, so food and water is important to keep around. You should also let someone know where you’re traveling, assuring that another persons knows where you are.
You fuel tank should be completely full, and you may want to bring along some winter tools (like chains, ice scrapers, brooms… even a flashlight). You never know when disaster may strike, so it’s best to be prepared.
You’ll also want to check the weather reports, especially if you’re planning on traveling off the beaten path. If you happen to get caught in a random storm, you’ll want to increase your observing powers. You don’t want to compromise your safety, so pull over if it seems necessary. You’ll want to keep your engine on during these delays, assuring that the mechanics don’t freeze or stall. Finally, remember to be courteous to your fellow drivers. Competing with another vehicle to get down the hill fastest will likely result in an accident, especially in inclement weather. If someone behind you seems to be in a particular rush, pull over and let them go.
Overall, the best rule of thumb when driving in a hilly or mountainous area is to keep it slow and play it safe. There’s an increased chance of an accident when traveling on these steep inclines or declines, and you’ll want to make sure that your vehicle is under control. While you may be inclined to treat the road like any other, remember that it’s not. These hills and mountains require significant focus and attention. If you follow our steps above, you should have an enjoyable and safe trip.