Winter Driving Tips. From Mars.

Staff Blog

Staff Blog | Nov 26, 2013

Think you have a hard time getting your car ready for winter? Get a load of this.

In the interest of schadenfreude (look it up!), we’re sharing this classic call to Car Talk. It’s from John in California. He’s preparing his car for winter. He had some special circumstances, though. His vehicle is an electric kit car, with all-wheel drive, and four-wheel steering. He plans to spend winter up in the hills, where the nighttime temperatures are projected to dip below -100°C.

Oh, and his ride is worth about 400 million dollars, and is currently parked . . . on Mars.

Take a listen-- it’s a staff favorite!

If we do find any water on this planet, we'll be ready. (Artist's rendering.)Yup. It’s the Mars Rover.
John says the Rover already has built-in heaters, and he and his buddies at the Jet Propulsion Lab plan to only drive it during the day when it’s warmer and keep it parked out in the sun. Tom and Ray thought that John’s winterizing plan sounded pretty solid. Not only that, but a lot of what the JPL winterizing crew planned to do, is applicable to those of us with less interstellar ambitions.

Here’s what Tom and Ray had to say:

1. Prepare Early
Follow John’s example and prepare for winter in advance. If your car needs any general maintenance or repair, do it now. It’s no big deal to get stranded on a brisk fall day, but getting stuck in the middle of nowhere on a cold day puts you at risk to all kinds of things. Like ingestion by an abominable snowman. We rest our case.

2. Park on the Sunny Side of the Planet. Or Street.
It’s always a good idea to park in the sun, especially if you don’t have seat warmers. Your tuchus will thank you.

3. Power On!
Keep it powered up. Even if you don’t have solar panels to recharge, at least check your battery and keep your gas tank close to full. (See above re: getting stranded and devoured.)

4. Know Your Rover.
Know your vehicle. If you’ve got all-wheel drive like the Rover, good for you! But don’t get carried away--you’re not invincible. Remember that your car can’t actually do any of the things the car commercial said it would. It’s a good idea to do a little practice in an empty, snowy parking lot, just to get a feel for how your car handles in adverse conditions.

5. Bring an Interplanetary Radio. Or a Cell Phone.
If you don’t have a radio with a broadcast range of hundreds of thousands of miles, at least make sure your phone is charged up before you head out. We normally shun the use of phones in cars, but if you’re broken down by the side of the road, they can be a life saver. And yet another reason not to use them while driving--save the battery for emergencies!

For more winter driving tips from Tom and Ray, check out our Winter Driving Section. Got a winter driving tip of your own? Share it in the comments below.

Oh, and if you’re wondering how the Mars Rover fared after all that winterization? Well, let’s put it this way: AAA didn’t have to send a tow Rover.

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