Heading to the U.S. or Canada on a self-drive holiday? If you’re new to driving the big open roads of North America, you’re in for a real treat.
This is a country where you can find desert sand dunes and mountain snow – sometimes even within the same state boundaries. Oh, and you can ski down both too.
Still, while diverse landscapes and varied weather conditions can make for some unforgettable drives, a little preparation goes a long way to making sure your holiday goes hitch-free. Our climate-specific driving tips will help you travel safely wherever you go.
How Alamo Rent a Car Can Help You
First, a few things you can leave to us. Alamo Rent A Car offers numerous convenient rental locations and an extensive fleet of reliable, air-conditioned vehicles, which takes the hard work out of selecting the perfect car for your American road trip.
With every rental, you can choose from optional car hire extras to ensure you’re fully prepared for your driving adventure, but we include essentials as standard – all of our winterised vehicles come with all-weather tyres, for example, while winter tyres are equipped on all Quebec cars by law from 15 December – 15 March.
If you were preparing your own vehicle for a road trip, you’d have to check tyres for wear, brakes, oil, brake fluid and transmission fluid, air conditioning coolant, fans, battery and ignition system, and lights – and that’s all before you set off. Alamo Rent A Car will have all of these covered for you.
Check Your Gas Tank and Tyres
Following a few basic tips can make driving in different weather conditions safer and easier.
If you can estimate how far a full tank will take you before you need to fill up, you’ll be able to time fuel stops better. All of our cars come with a full tank of gas, and you have three options of how to pay for it. If you opt for the Alamo Gold package, the full tank fuel cost is included.
Nevertheless, it’s especially important to know when to refuel during desert drives or cruises in cold conditions, as running out in the middle of nowhere could leave you vulnerable. Map out the locations of gas stations before your road trip, and check the opening hours of gas stations you plan to stop at.
You should also be mindful of your tyres when driving in higher temperatures. High heat can affect the pressure inside of the tyres, especially if you’re driving through searing heat in a place like Death Valley, California. For this reason, if you’re heading out on a desert drive after already driving your rental car for some time, you may wish to double check the oil and coolant is full in your rental car, check the pressure on all tyres plus the spare, and the power steering and brakes.
Driving in the Desert
If you plan on spending your summer touring the American West, you’ll want to get clued up on driving in the desert.
Unlike driving in snow, many UK drivers have no experience in driving in extreme heat. Bring plenty of water, fill up with gas whenever possible and ensure your mobile phone is charged at all times.
Take Red Rock Country in Arizona, for example. The setting is extremely beautiful, but its gritty roads can test the skills of even the most experienced driver. Stay alert for debris and avoid driving over any compromising rubble to keep your tyres in top condition.
Although it rarely rains in the desert, when it does, the roads can become slippery from vehicle oil, so slow down and take it easy.
Follow the tyre tracks of the car ahead of you on a rainy road to prevent aquaplaning. Avoid any sudden wheel turns, acceleration or stops when on wet roads and never drive through large amounts of water.
In the unlikely event of a breakdown, remain with the vehicle and raise the hood to let passing motorists know you need help. Drink water and stay in the shade to keep cool.
Driving in the Snow
If you’re heading on a winter road trip to a snowy, icy destination such as Alberta in Canada or Alaska in the U.S., make sure you regularly check the weather forecast and road report for the area in which you are driving.
Try not to drive in heavy snowfall or limited visibility – Alamo Rent A Car vehicles may not have snow chains equipped.
Planning your road trip schedule when driving during winter is vitally important, and remember to leave yourself plenty of time to drive at a reasonable pace for the weather.
Arrange to drive around the times when other traffic will be on the road, and keep your hire car stocked up with things such as extra windshield washer fluid, an ice scraper, jumper cables and even a pack of sand to ease you out of any slippery spots.
If you're ready to start your next adventure, hire a car with Alamo today!