Don't want to be one of those asshats tiptoeing down a snowy highway at five miles an hour? Don't want to find yourself digging your car from a snowdrift?
Jalopnik readers can help you out.
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Winter has the potential to be the best season for driving. Traction is low and people stay off the roads when they don't have to be there. This gives you tons of chances to slide your car around parking lots like you're in Tokyo Drift.
The practical side of driving in the snow, though, is a bit of a pain in the ass. Idiots in SUVs think they can drive like it's summer and end up crashing all over the place, grannies pootle along at dangerously slow speeds, and it can all be a bit of a nightmare on the highway.
If you have the money and the time, you can always go to a winter driving school (and we recommend you do so if you have the chance), but there are ten simple things anyone can do to be a better driver in the most slushy, cold, dark miserable time of year.
Photo Credit: Kouks
‘All season' tires are actually just ‘three season' tires. If it's freezing and there's snow on the ground, you need winter tires, it's as simple as that.
If it's been snowing, stick to the path that other vehicles (especially trucks) have been taking. It's like coloring in the lines; just follow the two dark lines in the snow and you'll have more traction.
If you've got a truck, weigh the back end down with sandbags. If you don't, your back wheels will be spinning all over the place.
If the road is snow-covered enough and slippery enough that you think you might need to put on chains, you should put on chains.
Just bringing chains in your car isn't enough. Practice putting them on before you need to use them. Hey, you may not even have the right size chains.
Here's a checklist for small things you need to get for winter driving.
- Ice scraper — CLEAR YOUR WINDSHIELD
- Winter wiper blades — regular blades won't clear lots of snow, slush, or ice
- Child's shovel – in case you need to dig yourself out of a snowdrift, like Kimi Räikkönen up there
- Washer fluid – it makes your wipers work
- Antifreeze – it keeps your car warm and happy
- A blanket – the thought of cuddling with your passenger for warmth sounds like fun until you realize you're stuck in the car with your mother in law
- Food and water – you don't want to end up like a horror movie where you have to eat your friend
Don't saw at the wheel, especially when you're braking or accelerating. Basically, try to split up your actions into three different categories: braking, accelerating, or turning. Don't try to do more than one of these things at a time or you will end up sliding very, very sideways.
If you want to be safe in the winter, test the road for traction. Here's how to do a test.
When you're driving, slowly increase the pressure on the gas pedal until you hear the revs spike. This sound means you're spinning your wheels. Slowly release the pressure on the gas pedal until the wheels stop spinning. Go back and forth on the gas (not touching the brake) until you know just how much gas you can give the car before the wheels start spinning.
The same works for braking. Test just how much brake you can give your car before you start skidding or the ABS kicks in.
4WD and AWD are great for helping your accelerate in the snow, but they do nothing, nothing, to help you stop.
Suggested By: Hadaken, Photo Credit: Getty Images
You may have done everything right: you've bought an AWD SUV or Subaru and you've put snow tires on. THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU CAN SPEED IN THE SNOW. Drive with caution. Check your traction. Use smooth, small inputs at the wheel.
Suggested By: Victorious Secret, Photo Credit: Getty Images
Go out to a snowy parking lot. Try the traction tests we mentioned earlier. Do the same tests while turning slightly. The car will start to slide and learn how to restore traction with the smallest, gentlest corrections. When you have a sense of that, go play around and do some donuts/drifts/whatever. You've earned it.