After a VT winter driving a rear wheel drive Mustang with bald summer tires, snow doesn't bother me. The people who don't know how to drive in the snow... I want to pull my hair out.
Don't ride your breaks down a hill, get comfortable using the gears (or whatever they are called) most auto cars have a feature that lets you 'shift' them so you can use your engine to slow you down and keep you slow on the hills. If you don't have that feature, tap your breaks. Like a half halt. Slowly take, then give, then take, then give. No slamming!
Slow down before the corner, not in the middle of.
And please, please for the love of dog, pull over when it's safe. Nothing I hate worse than following somebody who can't or is too afraid to drive in the snow. It'll make you more nervous having a long line of cars behind you anyways.
I second going out to an empty parking lot, with somebody who knows what they are doing and doing on purpose slides and skids and breaking, so you know what it feels like and know how to handle it.
If you drive at a reasonable speed (unlike DH, who is a yahoo and I refuse to let him drive in the winter), even if you DO ditch it, it's shouldn't hurt. Snow is rather fluffly.
This is very good advice. If buying new tires is not in your budget, get a set of chains and learn how to put them on your car.
Aren't chains illegal in most places? We're allowed to have studded tires from November to sometime in spring in my region, but the only place I've seen tire chains was out west in the mountains.
I am OK about winter driving. We get enough nasty weather up here that I'm fairly used to it. I found that I was a very nervous winter driver until I'd actually experienced a skid. I felt much more confident once I learned to drive though it and of course to slow down and brake more cautiously!
The other drivers are also what scare me most. I actually enjoy driving on snowy backroads when I'm the only one on the road.
the only thing I worry about is the other drivers- lots of SUV drivers seem to think their 4WD gives them magical powers.
This is why I don't like driving in the snow around here. My car isn't very good in snow and I am very careful. Most of the cars / trucks I see in ditches around here are SUVs and AWD vehicles. They drive like the roads are dry, then they hit a patch of black ice...
Try to plan your route to minimize lane changes. Slush swales build up between lanes. The swale grabs at your tires when you change lanes, decreasing your control.
Not that it will help today, but the right vehicle really makes a difference in winter driving. A combination of high ground clearance, AWD, good rubber, and good weight distribution makes a vehicle a lot more stable. People don't realize the difference ground clearance makes. The snow being pushed aside by your tires has to go somewhere. If your vehicle hugs the ground, it's gonna be body surfing when the road gets messy.
Here are some of my impressions from vehicles I've driven over the years:
-1977 FWD VW Rabbit: this car was great in snow. It had high ground clearance, so it would handle poorly plowed roads and snow swales with no trouble. Plowed into my space in a parking lot? No problem; up and over and on my way. The only time I was really nervous was when I got off a highway exit ramp in the snow belt near Erie PA. The plows hadn't hit the ramp yet, and I whoomped into six inches of untouched powder at 45 mph. Luckily I was able to keep up my momentum enough to get to the end of the ramp.
-1987 FWD Toyota Corolla: a real disappointment after the Rabbit. It had lower ground clearance, so it would get stuck on poorly plowed roads.
-1990's era RWD Nissan pickup: high ground clearance, but very light and poorly balanced. It was hopeless in snow unless I put a couple hundred pounds of sand over the rear axle. Then it would go through anything as long as I didn't stop. Like most RWD cars, it would do a 180 if I gunned it in snow.
-1990's era AWD Subaru Outback station wagon: best snow car I've driven. It had high enough ground clearance to handle poorly plowed roads, and it was balanced enough not to be inclined to throw me into a spin.
1990's era AWD Subaru Forester: ok, but not as nice as the Outback. It had enough clearance to handle snow, but its light weight and shorter wheelbase made it more prone to spinning out. Counter-intuitively, I found I was better off keeping my foot on the gas when I went into a slide. Eventually the tires would grab again and I could steer out.
-2000 era AWD Outback Sport: too low to the ground. It's not much better in snow than my Corolla. It is a heck of a lot of fun in summer though.
Don't ride your breaks down a hill, get comfortable using the gears (or whatever they are called) most auto cars have a feature that lets you 'shift' them so you can use your engine to slow you down and keep you slow on the hills.
Very good advice. I use my lower gears all.the.time... now that I found where they hid them
People are crazy and times are strange.
I used to care but, things have changed.
I don't love it, but if I was afraid to drive in snow & ice I wouldn't leave my house from November to March. So you learn to deal with it.
Go slowly, be careful, leave lots of room to stop, AWD is fantastic (but not so helpful to stop), and winter tires do make a difference (I don't have them, though). If it's really coming down, turning your lights on can help other cars see you.
Besides driving in the snow... I hate getting out in the snow. I'm not really dreading the drive home in this crap... I just wish I didn't need to stop and top off my tank, pick up a movie, and buy cat food. Sure it can all wait, but how do I know how many days this yuckiness will persist? Will it be worse tomorrow? **sigh**
beorn over on the udbb teaches a winter driving school course in new hampshire. i sent my kids there and they said it was fabulous.
Originally Posted by Snowflake
I have a serious phobia about driving in the snow. I'm better when I'm actually driving but I have had all out panic attacks being in the car during a snow storm. And I too have never had a bad accident. I try to be logical and remind myself that the person driving doesn't want to crash and wouldn't want to hurt themselves or me but it's not always successful. There are times that I'm left clawing at the door and sobbing to be let out of the car. It is by far one of the worst feelings ever.
I found one of the best ways to help me through was to get a good, safe vehicle and do the appropriate winter prep. I drive a truck with on demand 4-wheel-drive. I can lock it into 4wd - no need to depend on some computer thingy to determine when and if I need to have traction. I put it on when I want it and when I feel I need it. I also invest in good all season tires and if necessary - really good winter tires. Spending $1200 is worth it if it keeps you safe.
Also, don't be afraid to drive like a grandma. You will get there safely and the yahoos that pass you at 60mph and curse you as they do will be the ones in a ditch somewhere. You can laugh when you catch up to them. I wish there were more schools that teach winter driving techniques. I know that there is one in Colorado that actually puts you in cars on a course made up of snow and ice and teach you how to handle white outs and loss of control. We could use something like that in the Northeast for sure!
Driving in snow isn't an option here...it's a requirement, LOL!
nah, doesn't bother me one bit. As a matter of fact, often during a hard snowfall Mr Blue and I will hit the road to go get a cup of joe at the local convenience store hangout and visit for a bit. We like driving in snow, either one of us. And while it's still coming down hard is the best time to drive...before the other morons get on the roads.
Like others have said, it's the other drivers that worry me. And 4wd/awd doesn't do bupkis on ice.
If you live in an area that gets regular snow...just stay prepared and you'll do fine. Don't try to squeak out extra years on tires and don't get performance tires unless you plan on swapping them annually for snow tires. Get aggressive all weathers for year round driving...or serious snow tires for winters only. CT no longer allows chains or studs, AFAIK. I used to have studded winter tires years ago, but while they rock in snow and ice, they suck on dry roads, LOL! Turns a dry, clear road slippery. But if I lived in a place that had a definite snow cover all winter, I'd prefer studs.
Downshift and use your lower gears. Keep a *steady* pace on flat and up and down hills. Slow for curves, downshift. (can be done in an auto too) Don't slow down or panic coming up or down a hill. Especially if you have people behind you.
Drive an AWD, 4WD or FWD vehicle. Rear wheel drive sucks in snow. Weight your trunk or truck bed. In AWD, 4WD or FWD...weight in the trunk over your rear tires makes an enormous difference in traction.I prefer minimum of 100 lbs over each tire...you can buy free weights in a sporting store affordably. Or even head to a Home Depot type store and buy either 2 80 lb bags of quik-crete ($5 a bag) or sand tubes and fill those. (you can use sand if you get stuck)
Usually those most nervous in snow are that way because their vehicles aren't ready/right for those conditions. You can also sign up for and take a lesson for bad driving conditions, which helps. Teaches you how to navigate bad roads, handle a slide or spin, etc. Helps with confidence.
You jump in the saddle,
Hold onto the bridle!
Jump in the line!
I don't mind driving in the snow. I hate ice though or the greasy mess that snow becomes after the roads are salted and it starts freezing again.
We have good winter tires and my husband has drilled into me and the kids what to do and not to do. I also wish I had a stick shift!! My husband and both kids drive Volvos with a manual transmission. I have the one with the automatic transmission but I can still adjust it for winter driving...I have never not gone to the barn because it was snowing. Freezing rain, blowing winds, that' s another matter! Plus, I hate how any snow fall now is a snow STORM. Come on people, this is Canada and we are supposed to have snow!
In my area, studded tires are not allowed. Winter tires are not mandatory either...In Quebec, winter tires are mandatory from Dec (not sure the exact date) to April and studs are allowed as I have 'heard' them on the streets of Montreal. We are supposed to get some snow tonight. Wishful thinking!!
Well I made it home, thankfully! Work early dismissed us and the roads sucked, so I great-grandma-drove myself to this little place on the way home to get new tires. I was just going to replace the fronts, but then I got the news my back ones really should go, too (tread two thirty-seconds of an inch). So way too many dollars later (how do I get a job making tires?! those things aren't cheap and only seem to be getting more expensive!!) I moved up to grandma driving the rest of the way home. I was still white-knuckled the whole time, but I made it.
I grew up and live in a place with hills and snow every winter so this isn't new at all, but I am just such a wuss about it anymore! Thanks for the tips and well wishes All of you others out in this mess stay safe as well.
Another tidbit of winter driving info. Mr. Lovey drives a serial killer van (SKV) - a huge 20 foot long silver beast with windows on the passenger side and back only (Dexter fans will recognize it as the Trinity Killer's van). Rear WD and awful in the lightest snow. He tried chains and weighting the rear axle but nothing worked until he got SNOW TIRES. He's almost invincible now
When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE THEM.
Glad you made it home! Living here in Montana, we do drive in snow frequently. And I agree about good tires, we sipe ours (I guess they don't do that back east), and weighting the axles if you drive a truck (and don't have a topper) - I use a couple of bags of tube sand. I do have a 4WD and I love it, but I used do drive a camry and with snow tires, that thing went through several colorado and montana winters, no problems!
Also though, don't forget if coming into a stop on slick roads or starting into a skid, pop it into neutral, a good way to get traction back. you can feel it coming down a hill if you put it in neutral, how much better your stopping is. Saved my a$$ several times in intersections. Funny about the van-we drove an Astro van every single weekend from Nov-April from Fort Collins to Steamboat either up poudre canyon or up to laramie and over. Lots of narly drives but we made it! that thing actually did really well in snow, better than I would have thought.
I'm afraid of bad weather driving. It makes me so tense. I also drive 45 minutes to work in GOOD weather so it really worries me when the roads start getting bad. I stay up all night worrying myself about it, actually. So yes, I feel your pain! We had blizzard warnings here a week or so ago, and it literally took me an hour and a half driving home. I am very cautious and afraid of others on the road as well.
It was greasy but not horrible. I stopped and topped off my tank (don't let it get too low in the winter). Stopped at Redbox and got a movie my husband has been wanting. Swung by the feed store to get cat food (don't want to get snowed in and runout of THAT). No big deal. Car was a little spinny but if you go easy it picks up momentum fine.
On my usual route home less than a mile from home there is a stop sign then almost immediately an uphill grade paved with brick with an S curve. Cars get stuck midway all the time. I've been almost stuck a time or two but if you sort of roll the stop sign and gather momentum you can make it up.
Well. I didn't.
Got about half way and the "slippery conditions" warning light came on and the car gave up. I worked on it for maybe 5 minutes (seemed longer) with my flashers on, waving cars around me if the going was clear and didn't cause anyone else a problem. I was making NO headway.
Out of frustration (and because I was now late getting home) I called my husband and said "this freakin car won't make it up E. Virginia Blvd!"
Well, what do you want me to do?
"Come help me! bring kitty litter, a tow chain... I don't care, just come push!"
Fine, I'll be right there.
Well, I'm not going to just sit there and cause an accident so I continue to creep up the hill. My car will roll maybe 6" cut loose, and give up. I brake. Straighten the wheels and inch forward again. I continue this way for another 12 minutes (seemed longer).
"where the f--- is my husband?" (reminder I am less than a mile from home)
I finally get to the top of the first hill. Now. Do I sit here on the shoulder? I decided that wasn't wise with conditions so I continue to creep home up the longer hill but now I have momentum. There are only two ways to get here... the way I am going, and the round about way. Surely I will pass him and be able to signal him. Nope. Just my luck. I can't phone him because he does not have a cell.
I make it home and realise he must have looped around me to come up so he was headed the same way I was. Makes sense. I get home. Pour a glass of wine. Preheat the oven. 10 minutes later he comes in and he.is.pissed.
"why didn't you sit there and wait for me?"
Yeah, good idea. I would have stuck or wrecked someone else. Why can't you just be glad I made it home? Then I get a lecture on driving despite the fact that this is only the second time I've had any difficulty in the 14 years we have known each other. (and I did make it home afterall...)
Two hours later he is still in a pretty growly mood which is just fine because I'm not too happy myself.
Last edited by SmartAlex; Dec. 26, 2012 at 08:25 PM.
Holy cow, SmartAlex! You did MUCH better than I would have, I probably would have just sat there and cried in frustration/fear. I am glad you made it home safe! Hopefully your husband comes around soon, the important thing is you both made it home safely. Take it easy this evening, enjoy some wine or something to relax!
Siping is where they actually cut more little slits into the tire to create more edges. some people don't like it (could impact manufacturer's warranty) but I o like it, much more traction, better grip. They do it quite a bit out here at the tire shops, but I couldnt' find anyone to do it in Vermont. So, its a matter of preference but I prefer it!