5 winter driving tips from the tune-up to the tunes

(BPT) – “From Atlantic to Pacific, gee, the traffic is terrific” … because it’s time to head home for the holidays! No matter their destination, Americans are more than twice as likely to drive as fly this year (76 percent vs. 24 percent), according to Hankook Tire’s newest Gauge Index Survey.

Where is everyone going? That depends. More than one-third of Americans (36 percent) want to travel somewhere involving sand and palm trees, choosing the beach as their ideal winter getaway. Other top destinations include a trip to the mountains (22 percent) or a family reunion (21 percent).

Wherever you are headed, bank on busy roads. Check out these five tips to ensure everything for your trip is well-oiled, well-maintained and, well, worry-free this winter:

1) Check the tires

Before settling in behind the wheel, don’t forget to look at your tires. The Gauge found 27 percent of Americans hope to stay on top of their car’s maintenance schedule better in the new year, but it’s never too early to kick-start those resolutions! Instead of kicking the tires, try the penny test to see if yours are ready for the road. Insert the penny into the tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down – if you can see all of his head, it’s time to replace your tires. Check out the i*Pike RW11 tire with an integrated studdable tread design to help you stop on a dime when winter roads get really rough.

2) Stay tuned

Beyond your four tires, it’s also a good idea to give your entire car a quick checkup before taking any road trip. Look under the hood to ensure adequate fluid levels, including antifreeze and wiper fluid; check the headlights, taillights and brake lights to be sure no bulbs are burned out; inspect windshield wipers for signs of wear; and make sure there is air in your spare tire.

3) Pack prepared

Keeping an emergency kit in the car is always a good idea, especially if you’re driving toward inclement weather. A roadside emergency kit should include first-aid materials like bandages and antiseptic, as well as tools that can help in the event of an unexpected breakdown. Be sure you have jumper cables, flashlights (with extra batteries) and roadside flares, as well as drinking water and non-perishable snacks to get you through any delay. For added peace of mind, double-check that your roadside assistance subscription is current.

4) Map your route

While nearly a quarter (24 percent) of Americans have built-in navigation in their vehicles, it’s still a good idea to scout your route before putting the car in drive. At the very least, make sure your passenger has a good sense of direction.

5) Get in the groove

A solid road trip soundtrack still wins as the top road trip entertainment for nearly half (46 percent) of Americans, according to the Gauge. Set your playlist before getting in the car, and make sure it can last the length of your road trip … and then some, in case you do end up in a traffic jam.

Keep your winter travels worry-free with these tips, and here’s to smooth sailing – or rather, driving – all season long!