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Old 31st December 2010, 12:08   #1
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Default Driving on Snow - What's the secret?

Searched a bit, but didnt find appropriate thread.
We all love driving and that too on different terrains. And I really hate taking a taxi to Khajjiar after driving all the way to Dalhousie.
So what is the real thing you should know while driving on snow. Is it just the skill you acquire with experience? Are snow chains must or is there any alternative(jugaad) exists for it? Is 4x4 really necessary? Pls all you experienced members put your tips and experience here and tell what is just eventual while driving on snow to remove the anxiety out of it.
Mods-if such a thread exists, pls merge or move to appropriate thread.

Last edited by Dr.Abhi : 31st December 2010 at 12:11. Reason: missed some point
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Old 31st December 2010, 12:30   #2
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Default Re: Driving on Snow-Whats the Secret?

Well, I have driven extensively on snow. A 4*4 or snow chains are not needed provided the snow is not very deep. If it is deep, snow chains and a 4*4 will come in handy.
In my 4 years near Boston, where it snows often, I have never found the need for snow chains. However, traction control and ABS are VERY useful.
Some tips to keep in mind:
- Snow means low traction. Lots of fun to drift around in, but in empty grounds only! And before you try and such stunts, please get a developed feel of how the car behaves on the roads on a regular day, as well as in snow.
- Never accelerate or brake harshly. Try to be as smooth and gradual as possible. There have been times when our car with ABS would come close to meeting with an accident as the brakes would be ineffective due to low traction. Brake slowly! Same with accelerating to avoid your car going all over the road.
- Keep A LOT of distance from the car in front and on the sides. Much more so than what one would keep when it rains. Brakes (esp. without ABS) are almost useless under hard braking.
- A manual car would be useful in snow, as you can always use engine braking. In fact, engine braking is recommended at higher speeds.
- Never take turns at high speeds, or accelerate briskly when taking turns. There have been occasions when our car with TCS would still continue going in a straight line, as opposed to turning, due to the fact that I was accelerating briskly.
- In fact, turn in speeds should be significantly lower than what you would on a rainy day.

All weather or Winter tyres would help as well.

Also, do carry the following in your car:
- Snow Chains (in case you ever need them)
- Anti-Freeze windshield washer (as well as top up your windshield washer with the same)
- a small snowplough (suppose your car is stuck in snow)
- a windshield scraper with a brush attached to remove the snow when it collects after the car has been parked
- an extra pair of gloves
- water bottles (don't leave them in the car or they will freeze)
- first aid kit

Tips for the car:
- Idle for a couple of minutes before and after the drive to warm up the engine. Do not revv it though.
- Don't accelerate briskly until the engine is warmed - and the roads are safe
- Make sure your engine oil can handle the temperature
- Get a good car wash and under body wash once you are out. Some times the roads might have salt/sand for added traction, which may not help the metal last long.

Last edited by lamborghini : 31st December 2010 at 12:40.
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Old 31st December 2010, 12:37   #3
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Default Re: Driving on Snow-Whats the Secret?

Its all about traction mate. Snow as we know, is very slippery. Anyone who has sat on it will agree. While driving through snow, the key is momentum. A 4X2 can drive through snow (a little, not like the one currently in US east coast), provided you maintain the required momentum. When one stops on snow covered road, there are chances that the tires may sink in if the snow is deep. If the snow is frozen hard, it becomes very difficult to get the traction while moving and tires start slipping. On road with plenty of traffic plying (I guess that will be the case of road to Khajjiar), a dry line emerges. Try sticking to it as it provides more grip.

Don't worry too much, give it a shot and you'll experience (and learn from) the real thing. But don't venture into deep snow.

EDIT: Woah, two replies while I was writing! There is real sound advice by lamborghini, stick to it.

Last edited by lordofgondor : 31st December 2010 at 12:40.
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Old 31st December 2010, 12:38   #4
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Default Re: Driving on Snow-Whats the Secret?

Well, I am no expert but did drive from Solan to Shimla while it was snowing heavily. The steps I took

1. Driving slow and braking slow.
2. Keep safe distance and never play with the steering (keep it steady as mush as possible)
3. Strictly follow the tyre mark left by the previous vehicles

I was driving a Santro and we reached in good time and safely.
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Old 31st December 2010, 18:17   #5
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Default Re: Driving on Snow-Whats the Secret?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr.Abhi View Post
Searched a bit, but didnt find appropriate thread.
We all love driving and that too on different terrains. And I really hate taking a taxi to Khajjiar after driving all the way to Dalhousie.
So what is the real thing you should know while driving on snow. Is it just the skill you acquire with experience? Are snow chains must or is there any alternative(jugaad) exists for it? Is 4x4 really necessary? Pls all you experienced members put your tips and experience here and tell what is just eventual while driving on snow to remove the anxiety out of it.
Mods-if such a thread exists, pls merge or move to appropriate thread.
Well. I too wants guidance keeping in mind the terrain which one usually encounter on hilly driving. On the net most of the snow-driving-tips hold true when driving on level roads.
- How is it difficult to drive on snowy/ slushy roads when going uphill? And how is it different going downhill?
- Does it ACTUALLY matter MUCH whether one is driving a front wheel drive car (almost all Indian cars south of Rs. 20L) or rear wheel drive one (e.g. Xylo, Scorpio, etc.)?
Real world experience sharing will help a lot.
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Old 31st December 2010, 23:44   #6
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Default Re: Driving on Snow - Whats the Secret?

No issues for fresh snow if you are going uphill or downhill. Stick to the advices given above.

If snow is hard, the traction is very limited. There are lot of accidents where cars slide down a slope (it is more difficult to stop if going downhill).

The real problem is to stop the car. A 4x4 or traction control or ABS will not help you to stop the car. I have first hand experience where my ABS fitted car with traction control simply skidded through a signal when I applied hard braking. My friend's Acura also had a bad accident even though it had all kinds of advanced controls.
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Old 1st January 2011, 10:06   #7
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Default Re: Driving on Snow - Whats the Secret?

In India, you get snowy roads only on the Himalayan mountain roads and therefore, all snow road drives are on steep and narrow roads.

I drive on the tracks left behind by vehicles who have gone by earlier.

I don't go faster than first gear. And unless it is a steep ascent which involves higher revs, I let the engine idle along.

I don't brake, never drive the car straight since the slight turning of steering may help break the pace, and aid gentle braking.

I never brake.

I stick to the non-cliff side of the road, better to fall into the pit by the road-side than into the deep valley below.

Never stop on snowy or icy roads, you will not be able to get traction to move off again, which means you have to slide back (if on a slope) or push the car to a broken surface to get traction to move again.

I carry rock salt - it is apparently useful to thaw black ice on the road.

I always have someone off the car, ready with chocks to put under the tyres if the car careens out of control or does not stop. Helps brake it or breaks the pace.

I have had some experience driving in snowy roads in Ladakh region, Manali and Dalhousie area, but have never used chains.
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Old 1st January 2011, 10:09   #8
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Default Re: Driving on Snow - Whats the Secret?

yeah, fresh fluffy snow is not of that problem. The main problem starts with hard had, that too on twisty roads with gradients also put in.
IMO some sort of snow chain is necessary to increase confidence to start with and later on also.
I am trying a jugaadu snow chain at home but the only thing dettering me is that it shouldnt foul with the brake disc and should be strong enough. If I succeed in my jugaad, I will post pics. Other than that, lowering tyre pressure is a great and easy trick everybody should know whos driving on snow. Till than keep coming
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Old 1st January 2011, 10:16   #9
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Default Re: Driving on Snow - Whats the Secret?

I have had some experience driving in the snow in Europe, this is how I did it:
1. Tyres - fit winter tyres. They are better than summer or all weather (M+S) tyres if temperature drops below 7 degrees C
2. Drive steadily, anticipate changes in road conditions & traffic.
3. Small inputs - light foot on accelerator & brake, turn in slowly
4. Choice of Car - small, light, FWD car with winter tyres beats big heavy 4X4 with the wrong choice of tyres any day

Remember that there are several types of snow. Fresh powder behaves very differently from packed day-old snow.

Carry chains, a shovel and some planks of wood to pull you out of trouble.
As far as personal supplies are concerned - carry water, a blanket, a torch, mobile charger ... sensible stuff, just in case you get stuck somewhere.

Your car also should be in good shape - antifreeze coolant, correct grade of oil, heater in working condition etc
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Old 9th January 2011, 17:01   #10
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Default Re: Driving on Snow - Whats the Secret?

with reference to weather.com - Driving Safety Tips - Winterize Your Car
Driving in Snow and Ice The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it. Don't go out until the snow plows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work, and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination. If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure your car is prepared ( TIPS), and that you know how to handle road conditions. It's helpful to practice winter driving techniques in a snowy, open parking lot, so you're familiar with how your car handles. Consult your owner's manual for tips specific to your vehicle. Driving safely on icy roads 1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more
space than usual between you and the car in front of you. 2. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake. 3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists. 4. Keep your lights and windshield clean. 5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills. 6. Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads. 7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges. 8. Don't pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind. 9. Don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads. If your rear wheels skid... 1. Take your foot off the accelerator. 2. Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they're sliding right, steer right. 3. If your rear wheels start sliding the
other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control. 4. If you have standard brakes, pump them gently. 5. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse this is normal. If your front wheels skid... 1. Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don't try to steer immediately. 2. As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in "drive" or release the clutch, and accelerate gently. If you get stuck... 1. Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper. 2. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way. 3. Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out. 4. Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car. 5. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction. 6. Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner's manual first it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you're in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going. Winterize Your Car Driving in the winter means snow, sleet and ice that can lead to slower traffic, hazardous road conditions, hot tempers and unforeseen dangers. To help you make it safely through winter, here are some suggestions from the National Safety Council to make sure that you and your vehicle are prepared. Weather At any temperature -- 20 Fahrenheit below zero or 90 Fahrenheit above -- weather affects road and driving conditions and can pose serious problems. It is important to monitor forecasts on the Web, radio, TV, cable weather channel, or in the daily papers. Your Car Prepare your car for winter. Start with a checkup that includes: Checking the ignition, brakes, wiring, hoses and fan belts. Changing and adjusting the spark plugs. Checking the air, fuel and emission filters, and the PCV valve. Inspecting the distributor. Checking the battery. Checking the tires for air, sidewall wear and tread depth. Checking antifreeze levels and the freeze line. Your car should have a tune-up (check the owner's manual for the recommended interval) to ensure better gas mileage, quicker starts and faster response on pick-up and passing power. Necessary Equipment An emergency situation on the road can arise at any time and you must be prepared. In addition to making sure you have the tune-up, a full tank of gas, and fresh anti- freeze, you should carry the following items in your trunk: Properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod-type jack Shovel Jumper cables Tow and tire chains Bag of salt or cat litter Tool kit Essential Supplies Be prepared with a "survival kit" that should always remain in the car. Replenish after use. Essential supplies include: Working flashlight and extra batteries Reflective triangles and brightly-colored cloth Compass First aid kit Exterior windshield cleaner Ice scraper and snow brush Wooden stick matches in a waterproof container Scissors and string/cord Non-perishable, high-energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits, and hard candy. In addition, if you are driving long distances under cold, snowy, and icy conditions, you should also carry supplies to keep you warm such as heavy woolen mittens, socks, a cap and blankets. If You Become Stranded... Do not leave your car unless you know exactly where you are, how far it is to possible help, and are certain you will improve your situation. To attract attention, light two flares and place one at each end of the car a safe distance away. Hang a brightly colored cloth from your antenna. If you are sure the car's exhaust pipe is
not blocked, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour or so depending upon the amount of gas in the tank. To protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia use the woolen items and blankets to keep warm. Keep at least one window open slightly. Heavy snow and ice can seal a car shut. Eat a hard candy to keep your mouth moist.
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Old 9th January 2011, 17:56   #11
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Default Re: Driving on Snow - Whats the Secret?

"No sudden movements". Those are the golden words for driving in snow.
No sudden braking, acceleration or turning. Going downhill on an icy bridge is challenging. I have seen a couple of Dodge 4X4 snake trailing uphill in snow. When that happens other road users wait with bated breath for it to pass.
New/good set of tyres. I also 'heard' rear wheel drives (Mustangs etc) are a strict no no for icy/snowy conditions. Driving a not so light vehicle also helps sticking to the road. If there is black ice on the road, there is no way one can brake as a skid in any direction is inevitable.
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Old 11th January 2011, 18:39   #12
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Default Automatic car on Snow

Hi T-BHP,

I live in Denmark and am contemplating buying an automatic car for my wife.
We have never driven an automatic car before and would thus like to know how does an automatic car perform (compared to "manual") on roads with snow (upto a few feet or more) or ice.

I need to know in terms of:
- driving control (start + stop)
- wheel spinning
- and uphill/downhill driving.

Would it be better to stick with a "manual" rather than "automatic"?

-Rahul
P.S: Mods I couldn't find a thread related to my question. If there is one then please point me to it.
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Old 11th January 2011, 19:30   #13
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Default Re: Automatic car on Snow

Hi Rahul,

I dont think you need to worry much on the AT for snow covered roads. I have used ATs on snow covered and slippery roads, but need to be cautious - this is applicable for both MT and AT cars. If you are still concerned on the grip factor, choose a car with Traction Control and EBD(Electronic Brakeforce Distribution) apart from ABS. Extreme snow filled roads - then you can choose for Chain belts that are fixed to tyres for additional grip.

Have a safe and happy motoring.
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Old 11th January 2011, 21:18   #14
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Default Re: Automatic car on Snow

Hi Rahul,
I think it is okay to get your wife an AT. For light to moderate snow MT/AT will not make a huge difference. Heavy snow/ level 1- 2 warnings then 4X4, chains etc etc matter.

However, no sudden movements in snowy conditions is still the perfect mantra to be safe on the road.
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Old 11th January 2011, 21:24   #15
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Default Re: Automatic car on Snow

Changing tyres to Snow tires will improve handling a lot. You could change back to original tyres after the winter season.

Your driving style, snow cleaning of your neighbourhood and routes you take etc are more important than the transmission type in this case.


//hkp
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