There is nothing quite like living and working in Squamish BC. With million dollar views nearly everywhere you look it’s like living in paradise. While mountain living is truly a gift, it comes with challenges, specifically when trying to navigate our snowy mountain terrain with their hair-point turns, and steep grades.
So today we wanted to share our top tips for driving our rugged Northwest terrain.
Save Those Brakes!
Mountain driving can be tough on your brakes, as you’re constantly using them to slow down and stop on steep inclines and sharp turns. But fear not, there are a few simple things you can do to help save your brakes and keep them in top condition while driving in the mountains:
- Use your engine to help slow down: When driving downhill, try to use your engine to help slow down instead of relying solely on your brakes. You can do this by shifting into a lower gear and letting your engine do some of the work (and don’t worry – modern transmissions are designed to take the load!)
- Avoid heavy braking: If you find yourself having to brake frequently while driving in the mountains, try to anticipate stops and slow down gradually instead of braking heavily at the last minute. This will help to reduce the strain on your brakes and make them last longer.
- Pay attention to your brake pedal: If your brake pedal starts to feel soft or spongy, it could be a sign that your brakes are overheating. If this happens, take a break and let your brakes cool down before continuing your drive.
- Get your brakes checked regularly: Make sure to have your brakes checked by a professional on a regular basis, especially if you’re doing a lot of mountain driving. This will help to catch any potential issues before they become major problems.
Those with RVs need to take this advice to a wholly new level, with the added weight of an RV, brake failure is a real danger downhill. Here’s a great article on driving tips for you RVers.
Driving In Mountain Snow
VW SUV with Mini Camper RV coming down a wintery road
The coastal mountains in British Columbia can be a winter wonderland, but they can also be treacherous if you’re not prepared. Here are a few tips to help you stay safe while driving in the coastal mountains during snow season:
- Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter: Check your tires, brakes, and windshield wipers to make sure they’re in good condition. Consider using winter tires, which are specifically designed to provide better traction in cold and snowy conditions.
- Slow down: Snow and ice can make roads slippery, so it’s important to reduce your speed and leave extra room between you and other vehicles.
- Use caution on bridges and overpasses: These areas tend to freeze faster than the rest of the road, so be extra careful when driving on them.
- Keep a winter emergency kit in your car: This should include items like a blanket, extra warm clothing, a flashlight, and a shovel.
- Know how to handle a skid: If you start to skid, take your foot off the accelerator and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go.
Also if you’re planning on driving in the mountains during the winter months, it’s a good idea to consider using tire chains. Tire chains provide extra traction on snow and ice, which can be especially helpful when driving on steep and slippery mountain roads. If you’ve never used chains before, practice putting them on your vehicle before you head out. Trust us, nothing is worse than trying to put on tire chains in the cold and snow, so it’s a good idea to practice at home before you hit the road.
A Note About Salt Spray
Most municipalities north of Vancouver, including our township near Nusalya use salt or salt spray on the roads to keep them safe for drivers during the winter months. This spray helps to lower the freezing point of water, which means that it takes longer for the water on the roads to turn into ice. This helps to keep the roads from getting too slippery and makes them safer for everyone.
Unfortunately these salt compounds are highly corrosive to the metal frames and undercarriages of modern cars and can weaken the metal and cause rust, which can lead to costly repairs. To prevent the effects of salt corrosion, you should wash your car regularly with soap and water paying special attention to the undercarriage, and use a water resilient car wax the paint it to create a protective barrier. For extra protection you may want to consider a rust-inhibiting primer or paint, or like us, you can also apply a rust-inhibiting spray or a rust converter to help protect your paint.
Beware of Falling Rocks
Driving in the mountains around here is a beautiful and enjoyable experience, but it also comes with some unique challenges, including the risk of falling rocks. To protect yourself and your vehicle against falling rocks, there are a few steps you can take:
- Stay alert and pay attention to your surroundings. Keep an eye out for warning signs or rock nets, and pay attention to any announcements, or alerts from local authorities.
- Avoid driving under overhangs or cliffs, as these areas are more prone to rock falls.
- Use your headlights and drive at a safe speed. This will help you see any potential hazards in the road ahead and give you more time to react.
- If you see a rock fall in the road ahead, reduce your speed and proceed with caution. Avoid driving directly under cliffs or overhangs whenever possible.
Have a Towing Service on Call
Tow Truck inland near Nusalya Vancouver BC
Having a roadside assistance service on call is always a good idea in general, but it’s especially important in the mountains near Vancouver during the winter months. The mountain roads in this area can be treacherous in the best of conditions, with sharp turns, steep inclines, and occasional wildlife crossings. Add in some winter weather, and those roads can become downright dangerous. If you have a roadside assistance service on call, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you have someone you can call if you have a flat tire, need a jump start, or get stuck in a snowbank.
Additionally, if you do happen to break down in the mountains during the winter, a roadside assistance service can help you get the assistance you need quickly and safely, which is especially important if you’re stranded in a remote location where the weather can be extreme. As an example of a good towing service, we enlist the towing expertise of All Set Towing Company for our 2nd home in Schaumburg, Illinois. In addition to being super nice guys, they also commit to always being on call and have deep expertise on transporting cars and trucks, especially during the infamous winter months near Chicago.
We’ve used them a couple times in the past for our family and they’ve always come through with quick turnaround times and an affordable price.
Driving in Squamish BC can present its own set of challenges, from wet and slippery roads to winding mountain passes. However, by following these tips and staying alert, you can safely navigate the region’s roads and enjoy all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Although we didn’t specifically mention it earlier – remember to always buckle up, keep a safe distance from other vehicles, and watch out for wildlife. Additionally, make sure to maintain your vehicle and check the forecast before embarking on a long drive.
With a little preparation and caution, you can have a smooth and enjoyable driving experience in the Pacific Northwest!