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  1. #1

    Default My Minivan and I from Boston to Sacramento in February

    Hello! I have been reading a lot of the posts on winter driving and routes and will try not to repeat questions that have been asked and answered.
    I have a 2001 Dodge caravan which, hopefully with the blessings of the mechanic will be fit. I have driven it up and down the east coast and it went to Mississippi once, but those were all spring/summer trips. I have pretty much decided on I 80 all the way across, as I also want to stop and visit in Iowa City and Denver. ( each for a half a day or a day.) I am a 50 something woman doing this solo and so have mapped out no more than 6 hours of driving a day. I think for me that gives me mostly daylight, a little time to stop and see something if I want, and if I can do it faster, fine.
    My big concerns are the minivan in the snow. I plan on buying a set of chains, but am a little clueless on the varieties I have seen, so any advice on that would be appreciated. (My stupid questions: on a front wheel drive do you only put chains on the front wheels? Do chains come with instructions on how to put them on? and can I just pull off the road and do that? or is it a garage stop? or raising it up on the jack required?)
    I am also planning on buying a new set of all weather tires. It is time for tires anyway and so any advice on that purchase would also be appreciated. Also, I guess I am looking for encouragement, and any helpful tips. I am concerned about the wind on the minivan, etc. Will try weigh down the back with suitcases etc.
    Anything at all, all comments welcome! Thanks. (re-reading, and i sound nervous even to myself)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    Welcome!

    I would get a set of "cable chains" and put them on the front if needed. They can be installed with the tires on the ground, but I'd advise you to find a friend who is experienced to show you how. They do come with instructions, but you need to practice before you leave! You essentially have to lay them out on the ground and drive over them centering the wheels on them, then bring both ends up over the top of the tire and buckle them.

    If you are going to Denver - check the weather and road conditions, and if they are favorable consider taking I-70 and US-50 the rest of the way instead of going back up to I-80.

    The last time we bought tires for my stepdaughter's 1999 Grand Caravan, we got a set of BF Goodrich Touring T/A all season tires at Sam's Club. I prefer to stick with the major name brands such as BFG, Goodyear, Firestone, Bridgestone, General, or Michelin. Those particular BFG's are a good value for what they are.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Thoughts.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Mapping programs are well known for their over optimistic drive times and if that is what you have been using to plot your drive you might need to 'tweak' things a little. Driving for no more than 6 hours a day will take 8.5 to 9 day's to complete your journey and on average around 350 miles per day.

    It would be wise when feeling fresh and 'enjoying' settled weather to consider going a little further so that in the event of a storm you can pull off the road and let it pass while road crews do their job. Interstates are a priority to keep clear and the traffic moving and if the weather moves in bad enough to need chains on the Interstate then it really is time to pull off the road anyway. They are a good thing to carry as a 'get out of jail card' but with forward thinking you should be able to avoid having to use them and instead of having to try and fit them in a blizzard by the side of the road, instead be enjoying a coffee in a service area or Motel. Trial fit them as suggested before you leave as you never know.

    Remember that Interstates are built with gradual curves and grades with the biggest of rigs in mind. It is high sided lightweight and unladen trucks that are most at risk from high wind and you shouldn't experience anything other than a bit of buffeting for all but the strongest of gales.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    I can certainly relate to "50 something" - I no longer like driving after dark and avoid it whenever possible. I just can't see as well as I used to. When I'm trying to make time and pile up the miles, I try to get on the road at the crack of dawn and I try to get off the road by dinnertime. I can get a lot farther in the summer than the winter.

  5. #5

    Default

    Thanks for the replies. I know that 6 to 7 hours a day doesn't seem like much, but like glc says, I try and avoid driving in the dark whenever I can. I am lucky in that I can take the 8 to 10 days of doing it more slowly. I have to get down to business when I reach Sacramento, but till then I am sort of on vacation.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Absolutely.

    It's great to be able to do it a leisurely pace and no point in rushing when there is no need. With up to 10 days to complete the trip your plans fit very nicely.

  7. #7

    Default "The View"

    Hello sda,

    Concerning I-80 in WY and UT, see my Field Report (to be posted later tonight).

    Concerning your vehicle prep, invest in a 2-gallon supply of de-icing windshield fluid and put part of one gallon in a spray bottle for use on your side windows and external mirrors. Dump the rest of the first gallon into your washer fluid tank and carry the second for backup. That, and a roll of high-quality paper towels and a good squeegee and your good visibility is assured for the whole trip. I'd start with brand-new wiper refills, too. The large-volume auto parts stores (Advance, AutoZone) down here in NC will install them for you.

    Foy

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    If you need new wiper blades, I absolutely love my Bosch Icons. They are solid rubber with an airfoil, and there's no open framework anywhere to clog up with ice.

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