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Tips for Driving on Ice/Snow


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I’m planning on taking the wagon for one last big trip before she gets stripped in prep for the build I have planned and since it is the season I’m off to Ruapehu. I’ve never driven in icy or snowy conditions before and was wondering if anyone had some tips for doing so? I know it’s not too different from normal driving but it’s still different enough

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3 hours ago, McMatty said:

 

I’m planning on taking the wagon for one last big trip before she gets stripped in prep for the build I have planned and since it is the season I’m off to Ruapehu. I’ve never driven in icy or snowy conditions before and was wondering if anyone had some tips for doing so? I know it’s not too different from normal driving but it’s still different enough

 

I'm definitely far from a perfect driver but I've done a fair bit of low traction grit/gravel/snow driving as I go up the skifields in Otago most weekends each winter. Not rally or anything serious.

 

Good tyres with good tread depth 4+mm make a huge difference, people hate on all seasons but they are a step above summer tyres when the temperature drops significantly. Knowing the condition/type of tyre you have will give you a better idea of the traction that you may have available.

 

Slower and smoother on the inputs are the most important ones. Keep a keen eye on time of day, air temperature, and shaded areas. There is often a massive difference between the traction in an area that gets sun and one that doesn't. Did it rain the night before then clear up overnight? This is a recipe for black ice around dawn/morning. Knowing the road really helps with this as you know the areas that don't see sun, if you don't know the road you have to be extra vigilant/cautious.

 

Allow a much greater following distance to the car in front. Maintaining speed is pretty easy even with very low traction, but when you have to stop suddenly will realise how little traction there is available. If someone is following you too closely just let them past, the last thing you want is them running up the back of you when you come to a stop.

 

Try to do all significant braking in straight lines, you can trail brake during corners if necessary to stop the car from 'running away' but no significant braking. You should always select the correct gear and scrub off all the speed you need to before entering a corner (especially if the corner tightens). It is important to keep all the wheels rotating to maintain traction and steering, don't depress the clutch for no reason or roll in neutral.

 

If the car begins to lose traction do not stand on the brake as you will likely spin, it is usually best to just maintain balance of the car and try to control the direction of the slide with smooth steering inputs. This one is really hard to learn until you experience it, as the initial instinct is usually to brake.

 

During hill climb try to maintain momentum (I don't mean go fast). If it is really low traction (snow/grit) and you lose your momentum (on a steep hairpin for example) it can be really hard to regain traction and move in the direction you want. It happened to me this previous weekend on the way up to the skifield driving on snow. I was in a train of vehicles behind a fwd that had fitted chains, I was following too close to compensate for the changes in the speed of the vehicle in front of me. The car in front of me went around a tight left hand turn that was quite steep on the inside and slowed down significantly. I wasn't ready for this and had to downshift from second to first on the steepest part of the corner, this caused me to lose most of my momentum and I was spinning all the wheels while moving more sideways than than upwards. Luckily Subarus are awd and I have decent tires so I was able to keep going but I should have had a longer following distance then I would have been able to keep my momentum.

 

During hill descent use your gears to control the speed of the car. You really don't want to pick up much speed as it is really hard to scrub it off going downhill with limited traction. Most of the people I see that have gone off the road have let the car pick up to much speed then either don't make it around the corner or spin from braking too hard and losing control.

 

Subarus make the hill climb part fairly easy if you have good tyres as they have an excellent amount of forward traction. Going downhill you are no more equipped than grandma's Corolla. If you are coming downhill carrying too much speed as you enter a corner there is very little that can be done to save you. Best to slow down beforehand ;)

 

Someone please correct me if they think I said something wrong.

Hope that made sense and helped somewhat, sorry if it was too long winded and basic. I kind of got a little carried away.

 

 

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Edited by IZichard
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RAL are running their shuttles @$6 per head return, we cannot compete with that so we are not running our shuttles ( we are instead contracting to RAL as they dont have the capacity so win win) 
pretty much IZichard said it all, take it slow and easy dont do anything quickly, especially coming back down, carry chains know how to fit them, biggest issue I see is tyre choice, wide 18's are next to useless ( or 20's/22's ) best are narrow ( under 195) 15's you need more ground pressure on snow and ice. 

this comes from 30 years driving shuttles on the Turoa Mountain road ( in excess of 1.5 million km's on that road) 

 

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Clutch kicks.

 

But seriously. Drive like all of the controls are made of glass. Softly softly on the brake and the accelerator. Prepare for anything (stopping, turning) way, way in advance so you don't have to do anything sudden. It is very hard to get control back once you've lost it.

 

It's fairly hard to come acropper on the way up; worst case is you just don't go up. Coming down is where it all goes pear-shaped for people. Use your engine+transmission to keep your speed down; this way you won't cook your brakes and it's smoother than braking. Leave a HUGE following distance and watch the car ahead of you; if it starts turning to S*** for them there's a good chance it will for you too at the same spot, also be prepared to stop in case the person in front wants/needs to.

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