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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 8:19 pm 
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TC wrote:
While we never used to get much snow here in the UK over winter, the last few have had decent amounts (although nothing compared to what you guys in the US and Canada get). This thread has some great tips and advice, especially for those of us in places where no one really seems to know how to deal with the snow!


The other problem with winter driving - even if you are experienced, know exactly what you're doing and take it slow, there is no guarantee that the oncoming driver is experienced or sensible in these matters. (Or isn't me, stupidly thinking I have to get someplace in a hurry at the beginning of a big storm when I should damn well know better :oops: ). This problem is even worse in places where it's likely that the oncoming driver has no experience. No matter how supreme your driving skills or how capable your vehicle is, part of supreme snow-driving-fu is knowing when to just give up and stay home.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:34 pm 
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duodecima wrote:
The other problem with winter driving - even if you are experienced, know exactly what you're doing and take it slow, there is no guarantee that the oncoming driver is experienced or sensible in these matters.


Snip QFT! The most dangerous part of Winter driving isn't really something you can control. you can control your vehicle. You can control yourself. you can plan and prep and plan and prep, but you can't do shit about the other drivers flailing about in their cars like pigs on ice. It takes some leet snow driving skillz to quickly get out of the way of another vehicle doing the auto ice-dance toward your car.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:05 pm 
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Mid October: Dealerships are starting their winter tire blitz. Now is the time to get a good set cheap while they are still plenty in stock. Set of 4 tires and rims for my cobalt is $200. (Not that I need it, I already have a set.)

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:50 pm 
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Every winter sure as shit you will see someone not from VT flying down a bad road, only to see them in a ditch maybe a mile or so further


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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 1:17 pm 
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Any thoughts about snow traction mats, such as the "Portable Tow Truck" brand? Amazon reviews seem promising. I saw them first in Sportsmans Guide but I can't seem to find them now.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 10:31 am 
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First thing first: I don't even bother with the 4x4, i'll lock my hubs so Its ready if I need it, and thats its. but as soon as my truck can't move forward with only two tires, I see no reason to ask it to stop. it adds 2 drive tires but it doesn't add 2 more to stop with. I have done so before, and yes its possible. but its not worth it. neither 4 wheel drive nor snow tires eliminate the fact that the road is slick.

onto some tips, cause storms can sneak up on you:

in just the toolbox of my pickup there is:
-set of tires chains for the drive tires.
-set of tire cables for the steer tires
-2 tool bags with hand tools
-hydraulic and hi-lift jack (in addition to regular tire gear)
-set of carhart coveralls and a small assortment of old hats, gloves, socks. there is also a rain jacket.
-blanket
-E-tool
-a bunch of other random crap that has accumilated

for automatics, if its slick out, shift into neutral when stopping. (lowjohn19 was right, but if it can be possible to lock up the back tires.)

them traction mats can be pretty useful, there not quit like having a portable tow truck, but I would say that they are worth it.

I will add some more later, for right now it is gym time.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:44 am 
Horatio_Tyllis wrote:
Mid October: Dealerships are starting their winter tire blitz. Now is the time to get a good set cheap while they are still plenty in stock. Set of 4 tires and rims for my cobalt is $200. (Not that I need it, I already have a set.)

Here in the area people don't know that there is a difference between summer and winter tires.
Last time we had one inch of snow, I saw 4 4WD trucks of the road, I don't know how they managed it, because the road was straight and visibility was 2 miles.

All weather tires are the only ones you can buy here.


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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:48 am 
LostDrifter wrote:
them traction mats can be pretty useful, there not quit like having a portable tow truck, but I would say that they are worth it.


When I was a child, they used the car floor mats with the Daimlers.
Daimlers always have back wheel drive and no weight in the back, so in the winter they always have problems.

Our neighbor used one of these in his trunk to get extra weight:

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:01 pm 
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LostDrifter wrote:
neither 4 wheel drive nor snow tires eliminate the fact that the road is slick.


This is something more people should understand. I wish they'd put this in all those ads showing people plowing through snow in slow-motion in their SUVs. But that wouldn't sell cars.

That said, there is nothing like 4WD to get moving on the rare occasion that we get 3' of snow here.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 7:52 pm 
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A little something I've noticed about driving in snow:

If you are the first person to drive over a snowy road (i.e. Snow starts falling when you are already on the road), you generally have better traction than driving over what others have already packed down into ice.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 1:32 pm 
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DarkAxel wrote:
A little something I've noticed about driving in snow:

If you are the first person to drive over a snowy road (i.e. Snow starts falling when you are already on the road), you generally have better traction than driving over what others have already packed down into ice.


Absolutely true. The microclimate I live in gets a lot of snow compared to the areas around me. My city only has 2 snow plows, and I live on a far-out-of-town side road so we only see the plow go by once every couple days, even during heavy snow times.

It's important to pay attention to the conditions not just in a 'hey, it's snowy' type fashion, but think about how long it's been snowing... If it's in the first couple hours of snow fall for the year, the ground is likely very wet under the snow, not icey. If that's the case, and I see fresh tracks going down the road, a lot of the time I'll stick to their tracks and just deal with a little slush. If the ground has iced over the night before, fresh powder = best bet for traction, I'll avoid their tracks to the best of my abilities.

Another thing people... Usually when the conditions are really bad, you don't see many people on the road. Staying aware of the micro-specifics of the conditions like I said a second ago, if the conditions are universally the same across the entire road, consider driving down the center when in a rural area. You'll be going really slow anyway, and if anyone shows up on the horizon, scoot back over to your side. But if no one is around, and the conditions are the same everywhere across the road, driving down the center gives you a little more 'wiggle' room if your vehicle starts sliding around.

Legallity disclaimer - I do not condone the illegal operation of any vehicle on a public road. Vehicles should always remain within their painted lanes... so long as they are visible. ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:48 pm 
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As someone who has been driving in Upstate New York and Colorado for the past several years, here's a tip for people who drive cars with manual transmissions:

Manual transmissions are, arguably, superior in snow in two ways.

1. It makes engine braking easier than with an automatic. You have less chance of slipping past 3 on your way down from D. It lets you select precisely what gear you want. (This can be done in an automatic too, however it is a little more likely to be more difficult to select the wrong gear on accident. I know this from experience). Staying in low gear going down hill is a great way to maintain control.

2. More specifically advantageous to the manual transmission is: High gears, low revs. When shifting up the hierarchy of gears while driving, shift up at a somewhat lower engine RPM than you do on dry roads in order to keep your wheel speed from causing you to fishtail or slip. When I had my little 2wd Hyundai in NY, I used this trick with great success. Once I got my Jeep, it wasn't as big a deal with the 4x4, but I still found this tip useful.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:23 pm 
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yes, and manually selecting a higher gear reduces power to the rear wheels, making it less likely to spin out. (however in most autos if you put the selector in "2" it will start in 2nd and stay in 2nd to help get moving, but it won't lessen power shock to the rear tires when it downshifts on a hill) and attempting to "rock" a vehicle with an automatic has burned up more than one transmission, but is possible to do in a manual through intelligent use.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 5:30 pm 
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Here's an easy, low cost method to winter driving...

SLOW THE F$%K DOWN.

Yesterday we had no fewer than 6 accidents on the 8 mile stretch of road between town and the Coast Guard base. The day before, 3 rollovers due to black ice.

It's pretty obvious that we get a lot of people that have never driven in snow / ice before, isn't it???

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:06 pm 
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oldsoldier wrote:
Living in New England, it always seems to take 2-3 good storms before people come to their senses, driving wise.


I seem to be quoting you frequently oldsoldier. If you just stop getting inside my head and stealing all my insightful comments I wouldn't have to keep doing this. But no one would believe that, so the next best thing I can do agree wholeheartedly with the things you say.

I cannot concur strongly enough with this statement. The first few storms are always the most dangerous because there's always that (sizable) percentage of drivers who somehow believe that the laws of physics don't apply for the first couple of storms. These same drivers are quite cautious and skilled by January or February, but I can't tell you how many vehicles I see littering the sides of the Maine Turnpike during/after the first few winter storms.

One other thing I can add to this excellent thread (fantastic job, Horatio, BTW): the very best advice I ever got from Mr. Dimiao, my high school driver's ed teacher (besides: if you see a ball rolling into the road, STOP) is this:

Pick an empty parking lot on a Sunday after a big storm and just go nuts. Floor it, jam on the brakes, crank the steering wheel, do everything you can do to get your car going sideways at speed. And then experiment with what gets the vehicle pointed back in the right orientation (feet off brakes and gas, steer into the skid). Do this and in 30 minutes you will be a far more skilled winter driver than 90% of the drivers on the road.

Before I did this, I really didn't understand what people meant when they said "steer into the skid". Even if you think you know, can you do it automatically, instinctively? Do this Sunday parking lot exercise and you will. I discovered it isn't a matter of practice, practice, practice to learn what to do this particular situation. Do it even once, actually feel what the car is doing and what happens when you get it right, and I swear, it just sticks.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:00 pm 
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Bump for goodness; even though quite a bit of the country has seen snow there are some areas that are still in the summer driving mindset. QFT on the above post, I second going to a big empty parking lot and trying out skidding, braking, ect. Even just to try out a straight line stopping distance in snow/rain/ect. Drive down the marked parking spots and count how many lines from when you hit the brakes till you stopped, and you can measure stopping distances to give yourself an idea of how fast/slow you should go in the winter, and what following distances you should allow for. For some people, 4 seconds might be fine in anything but the worst conditions, for others it might have to be 8 seconds for the same conditions, even in a similarly capable vehicle. For example, the brakes in my 99 Dakota SUCK BALLS, but I've driven similar 2 disc/2 drum vehicles that brake better. *

*As a side note, I think the rotors from NAPA that I got might just suck. I cant get the brakes to lock up when its dry unless I get them hot first by doing a few long hard stops. Pads have a reputation for being awesome, so I dont think that's it (EBC Green) but anyways, you guys get the point.

Even though I'm guilty of occasionally going faster than I should in the winter, I often find it's because I'm trying to get a space cushion around me on the roads; I suppose there's a fine line. But really guys, slow down; if you dont know how to drive in bad conditions, or your car isnt capable of handling them, stay the hell home.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:51 am 
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RE: Rocking

The way to do it is not just slamming the tranny back and forth between forward
and reverse.

Put it in reverse and back till it starts to spin. Apply and hold brakes until you shift
into forward. Go forward till you start to spin, brake and hold while shifting into reverse.

Rinse and repeat until you get lucky.

When you get good at it you can catch it before the wheels spin and stop on a nice
little upslope that the wheels made in the snow. Gives you a little ramp to roll down. Really helps.



RE: wipers

If you know its going to snow or ice, raise the wiper blades up and leave them up
until ready to clean windshield. Then they won't freeze to the glass.


I miss the old roomy engine compartments. When it gets really cold gas doesn't vaporize
well making for sometimes impossible start up. I used to pull the plugs, heat them with a
propane torch and stick them back in real quick. Worked like a charm. Nowdays you have
to unbolt the motor mounts and jack up the engine to get to the plugs on a lot of cars. :(

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 Post subject: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 8:27 pm 
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grennels wrote:
RE: Rocking

The way to do it is not just slamming the tranny back and forth between forward
and reverse.

Put it in reverse and back till it starts to spin. Apply and hold brakes until you shift
into forward. Go forward till you start to spin, brake and hold while shifting into reverse.

Rinse and repeat until you get lucky.

When you get good at it you can catch it before the wheels spin and stop on a nice
little upslope that the wheels made in the snow. Gives you a little ramp to roll down. Really helps.



RE: wipers

If you know its going to snow or ice, raise the wiper blades up and leave them up
until ready to clean windshield. Then they won't freeze to the glass.


I miss the old roomy engine compartments. When it gets really cold gas doesn't vaporize
well making for sometimes impossible start up. I used to pull the plugs, heat them with a
propane torch and stick them back in real quick. Worked like a charm. Nowdays you have
to unbolt the motor mounts and jack up the engine to get to the plugs on a lot of cars. :(


I've never had that problem with my truck, but starting fluid works well too. Honestly have never heard of heating plugs up with a torch for starting.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:21 pm 
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Heavy rain = slow down. Hydroplaning sucks and will sneak up on you, especially in the first half-hour to hour of the storm. Personally I enjoy driving in snow and hate driving in rain.

Flood = Don't drown, turn around. Seriously. Just don't do it.

Water and snow will hide stuff not just the line painted on the road but also debris if the storm has high enough winds.

Always drive slower than visibility permits. If you can only see 100' then you need to be able to stop in that distance.

It's the dog days of summer, so winter is just around the corner for higher elevations... Yup, time to start prepping for winter driving again.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2012 2:15 am 
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Also a great time to get a screaming deal on a pair of winter tires still in stock.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2012 2:40 am 
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We're actually already in the part of the year where prices are going UP not down. They're nowhere near as high as they'll be in November but nor are they as low as you get either grabbing last year's closeouts in March or the first of this year's shipments in June/July.


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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 11:35 am 
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I may have missed it and if so I apologize but it has been said that if you are in a skid you should stop accelerating. This is true in rear wheel drive vehicles but not front wheel drive. In a front wheel drive, steer in the direction of a skid and gently accelerate. This should pull the car back in line with your intended direction of travel. Also, you should know if you have a front or rear wheel drive vehicle. A buddy of mine and I watched a guy chain up the back end of his mini van only to discover that it was a front wheel drive when he tried to move.

When you roll toward an intersection plan to stop your vehicle twenty feet or so back from the stop sign or light then creep up to the inrersection rather than trying to stop *at* the sign. Typically there is a nicely glazed layer of ice in those areas from people jamming on their brakes or jumping on the gas so stopping in advance of them will help prevent you from sliding into the intersection.

I also want to add that *in my own experience* if there is an uphill section in your line of travel you should try to gain a little speed before attempting it. If you creep up to a hill and half way up find yourself pressing on the accelerator, your are far more likely to spin out and wind up stuck, or worse, sliding backward down the hill. Gaining enough momentum to coast to the top of the hill with minimal throttle will help prevent this.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:36 pm 
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If you go into a skid and you are driving a stick mash the clutch to the floor to allow the tires to match road speed quickly. True for any drive system.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2012 12:54 pm 
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Here's my addition to the thread, though Im sure a lot of it has been posted.

I grew up driving in the snow, and actually enjoy it if there arent other people in the way on the road. In high school when fresh snow would fall I would spend my lunch breaks and free periods drifting in the parking lot. I have done some ice racing on frozen lakes and I have driven to and from ski areas countless times(I used to be a ski instructor) in massive blizzards. This is kind of just a jumble of everything I can think of that is relevant, so sorry if some of it is somewhat out of order.

Learn Your Vehicle
The only way to learn how to control your vehicle when it is out of control, is to have practice doing so. It is especially important to know how to correct your vehicle in a slide, as over-correcting can be just as dangerous as the initial skid. So get out in a big empty parking lot when a few inches of fresh snow have fallen and do some donuts, j-turns, and power-braking. Push the car to the edge of control, and then beyond so you know how it feels. Practice hard acceleration and learn to control the fish tails. Practice hard braking to learn how the ABS feels and how to back off of it(read further below). An empty parking lot is a safe place to try this without risking damaging your car or other peoples lives. Just keep your distance from light poles and curbs.

Tires grip much better in fresh snow than on ice or slush. Though you might think its best to stay in everyone elses tracks, it is frequently better to drive on the virgin snow in between lanes or just on the outside of the road. Piles of slush in between lanes are also dangerous, they offset the stability of the vehicle when hitting them at speed, and can send you into a spin.

Some might call me a “hooligan” or something, but I know the limit of my car, and I will drive in the snow/ice as fast as I feel comfortable with it going because I know the limits. But give other drivers their space and dont tailgate. I always leave twice as much space between myself and the car in front of me. Not because I assume they can brake faster than I can, but because I assume the person behind me cant stop as fast as I can.

ABS(anti-lock brakes) engaging are not a bad thing, though if your not familiar it can be scary feeling the pedal shake. ABS senses the brakes locking, and traction/stopping distance is reduced in a skid. Maximum braking is achieved immediately before locking, so ABS is pulsing the brakes between locked and unlocked trying to find the pencil-thin line on the edge of them. If you let off the brakes slightly just so ABS is not engaging, traction will be higher, and stopping distance shorter.

Be extra careful doing down hills, as gravity is against you and the weight of your car. Learn to downshift if your car is automatic to use the engine speed to slow the vehicle down instead of the brakes.

Now a little story to put all these things together. Last winter we had our first real snowfall, and I was a bit stressed out from Finals, work, having just broken up with my girlfriend, so I decided to collect my thoughts over a midnight “Crest Run” to the top of Sandia Peak, a 13 mile long, twisty, hairpin filled, two lane, 3500' ascent past the local ski area to the top of Sandia Mountains. I wasnt the only one up there, there were a handful of trucks and suvs that had the same idea as me, to play in the fresh snow with their cars. On the way up I was having a great time drifting through the corners, watching the speedometer and tachometer spike as I punched it on the straights and all-four light up. On the way down I was being cautious and mellow since gravity was against me. When I would feel the ABS engage I would let off a bit, taking the corners nice and slow. On the 3rd hairpin down I didnt realize I was locking because ABS had not engaged. I began the turn the steering wheel into the corner while still slowing since it was a wide corner and the vehicle didn't respond. I instantly knew that I had been locking the whole time and the ABS had failed. Knowing the limits of the car, I knew I was going way too fast to make the corner, which was a gaurdrail to a cliff dropoff. As I approached the apex of the corner still going too fast, I dropped into second gear, cocked the wheel all the way towards the outside of the corner, and hammered the throttle. This put the car sideways facing the inside of the corner, and I continued to pulse the throttle. As the car began to straighten out at the end of the corner I felt the car kiss the gaurdrail with the back right corner, and then I was out of the corner. I pulled over, fairly shaken, and I saw the ABS light on the dashboard was lit up, indicating it wasnt working. I got out of the car, inspected the damage to the car(not bad considering I could have driven off the mountain), and cautiously drove the rest of the way down the mountain.

Moral of story: Don't place all your faith in the ABS system to work, and know how to control your car. Had I not known how to drift my car around the corner, I would have gone straight off the mountain and probably died or have been severely injured(and not found for a long time).

Have the right Equipment
Summer tires are truly junk in snow, and downright dangerous. Trust me, Ive done it. All-seasons are miles ahead of summer tires when the roads have snow and ice on them, but thats not saying much. Ive done thousands of miles in the snow with all-seasons, but they don't hold a candle to real snow tires. Honestly, I didn't believe the hype, until I tried them. A good set of snow tires is absolutely incredible in the snow.

Chains are Ok(I dont have any experience using them), but think of it this way: with chains you are only gripping when each chain is in contact with the snow. In between each chain row, you are still slipping. With good snow tires, you are constantly having grip, your contact patch of gripping is larger. If your car is FWD, put the chains on the front wheels. If your car is RWD, put it on the rear. If your car is AWD/4WD, and you are hellbent on running chains instead of winter tires, it is best to put them on all 4 wheels. But if you only have 1 pair, put them on the front wheels. This means you will still have drive wheels that have chains, but you will also have the steering wheels with extra traction.
Dont be this guy:
Image

Sand bags in the back of RWD cars and trucks increases the weight/force on the tires, which creates traction. They also come in handy to add traction if you are stuck by pouring sand under the tires. But something most people don't realize if you don't have sand with you, is to use the floormats in your car to get traction as well!

If you know it is going to snow and your car is parked outside, raise the wipers up. When you return to your car, your wipers wont be frozen to the windshield, and it will be easier to scrape snow and ice off them.

Clean all your windows of snow and ice before driving so you can see what is happening around you. And if you have a snow brush/scraper combo, wipe as much snow off the roof, hood, and trunk as you can to it doesnt blow off into cars behind you.

If your defroster can't keep up and your windows are fogging up, crack the window open. It might be cold, but it will help keep the fog down.

NEVER let your fuel tank drop below ¼ tank in the winter, if possible try to keep it at over ½. If you are ever stuck in traffic in a snow storm, it can often take hours to go a few miles, and idling does use fuel.

This is a good start to a “winter emergency gear box” to keep in your trunk. Im not going to include things you should carry in your car year-round such as jumper cables, spare tire, etc.
-Snow Scraper/Brush
-Chains/"Socks"
-Recovery/Tow Strap
-Gloves
-Winter Hat
-Blanket
-Flashlight
-Emergency Reflective Blanket
-Granola Bars
-Bottles of Water
-Entrenchment Tool(aka Fold Up Shovel)

Thats all I can think of for now, if I think of anything else, Ill add it.


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