- Courtesy of caranddriver.com.
Unless you live in Australia — or another beautiful country on the Southern Hemisphere — you’ve likely realized that winter weather has set in with a bang. Snow is falling, ice is forming, and driving has become that much tougher. Yet the challenge of our automobile experiences shrinks when compared to the rigors of driving in Antarctica. Car and Driver recently delved into how vehicles get around the mysterious land of ice. But although Antarctic automobiles may seem alien to you, learning about their whys and wherefores can offer you surprising advice. Here are five ways that the seventh continent can enlighten and improve how you maintain your own car.
1. Tires can save the day.
Only two percent of Antarctica’s physical land is exposed to catch the chilly sunlight. Thick snow or ice densely drapes every other square inch. In order to successfully maneuver over such a rigorous surface, drivers in Antarctica rely on some of the world’s toughest tires. Passenger vans might be fitted with 10 psi bead-lock tires that span 40 inches, while all other vehicles take tundra-specific wheels more often spotted on roads for oilfield rigs. The take-home for motorists in less dangerous territory: treat your tires with the utmost respect, and frequently check them for tread quality and the proper inflation. TireSafety.com is a first-rate resource for perfecting your tires before they hit the road.
2. Read your car’s manual like religious scripture.
Antarctica is an uncommon environment. As a result, the continent demands uncommon rules, as specific as the temperatures are cold. The United States Antarctic program has crafted a uniquely comprehensive Field Manual that proves easy to navigate and understand. It covers virtually every situation that an Antarctic motorist could encounter on the ice, from acclimatizing to the altitude to handling sea ice as nimbly (and safely) as possible.
For drivers away from Antarctica, their own auto’s manual serves as an equally crucial and thorough resource. Reading through that manual on a regular basis may seem monotonous and unnecessary. Yet doing so will equip you with the savvy needed to either preempt car problems, or deftly manage a crisis should one arise.
3. The first mechanic to evaluate your car should be you.
All U.S. Antarctic driving staff shares one common skill that they all flaunt: self-sufficiency. The continent’s tough terrain has resulted in an array of vehicles designed to cover specific Antarctic formations, from light-power trucks to manage relatively smooth land to heavy-duty automobiles structured to power through daunting treks.
Drivers down there know how to make water for their diesel engines and generators, get by on a snowmobile, and cut ice with a chainsaw (in some cases). Drivers everywhere would be wise to emulate this reliance on multitasking.
You may not have the skills to create a brand-new engine for your car, but you should be fairly adept in managing basic auto affairs — from changing the oil to the ins and outs of piston installation. The better you know your car, the better you’ll maintain its quality and preserve its value.
4. Cleanliness and seasonal use can extend your auto’s lifespan.
Eerily, automobiles in Antarctica frequently outlast their counterparts in less chilly environments. Trucks and other large vehicles designed to last 15 years maximum frequently keep running for up to 25. Two factors help to sustain Antarctic cars for the long haul: tidiness and a rest period on use.
The weather in the continent prevents any vehicle use from April through November, Antarctica’s austral summer. The lack of smog and other airborne chemicals also helps to keep these cars in fighting shape.
If possible, drivers should strive to limit their car’s exposure to toxic compounds in the sky — not an easy feat in many areas. However, regular smog checks can be helpful in this regard. In addition, opt for public transportation or carpooling when you can, to lessen how often you drive. Reduced motoring can equal auto longevity.
5. Communication is key to surviving the elements.
Every automobile in Antarctica is outfitted with a radio. And that radio is double- or triple-checked to guarantee its working condition. For vehicle accidents in this icy continent can often spell death or serious injury without a reliable stream of communication.
The same spirit of keeping in touch should influence how you manage your car. The obvious way to accomplish this is toting a cellphone alongside you whenever you travel. But savvy drivers extend this communication to their auto’s care as well. Consistently contact a regular mechanic for your car, and bring it in for regular checkups.
Going on a long excursion? Scout trustworthy garages in advance along your route. This helps to ensure that no matter what happens on the road, you have an auto professional to reach out to, helping to keep your car at its best.