ice –

Winter Driving

In the first and second part of the article we talked about considering alternative transportation and how to prepare your ride for the snowy season. Also, we shared a few tips about how to drive on snowy and icy roads. In this third and final part of the article we are going to talk about emergency measures and what to do when you get stuck in the snow.

If your vehicle begins to slide, first you need to take your foot off the accelerator without hitting your brakes. For those of you driving a stick you should take your foot of the acceleration pedal, don’t hit the brakes and fully depress the clutch pedal. You should steer into the direction that you want to go which in most cases is the same one with the direction of the skid. So, if the tail end of the car starts skidding to the right, you should turn the steering wheel to the right. The vehicle should start to self-correct if everything goes smooth. You need to accelerate in a gentle matter in order to get the wheels of the vehicle moving again and increase their traction. If you want to make a stop it is highly advisable to brake gently. It is best to avoid hitting the brakes hard because by doing so it will stop your wheels and will eliminate any traction that you have had.

For the cars equipped with antilock brakes, the brake pedal should be pressed gentle. There are very good chances that you will feel the brakes pulse, don’t get scared as this is a very normal thing. For traditional brakes, you need to pump the brakes gently.

If you have the misfortune of ending up stuck on the side of the road or in a snowbank, it is advisable to press the acceleration pedal in a gentle matter in order to see if you can get free. Don’t overdo it because if you hit the pedal very hard the wheels will most likely start spinning and you will remain in the exact same position as before.

If that doesn’t work, now you can try rocking your way out. If the vehicle moved just a little bit, you should gently drive forward up to that point and after that release the acceleration pedal and hit the clutch (for those of you that have a manual gearbox), letting the vehicle slide back. With the risk of repeating ourselves, the idea behind this move is to nudge the vehicle back and forth by using a gentle touch of the acceleration pedal. Think of it like pushing on a swing. If you are lucky enough and you weren’t badly stuck, in most cases you will make sufficient room in order to get enough speed to break out of the annoying snowbank. Whatever you do, it is best to avoid spinning the wheels of the car because by doing so, it will polish the packed snow under the car’s wheels into ice. While rocking, you could very well steer by turning the vehicle to an angle opposite the snowbank.

If you haven’t resolved the problem yet, you should put the vehicle in park, set the handbrake and get out of it in order to start digging the snow away from the vehicle’s wheels and also under it if you think this is what stops you from going forward or backwards. In the first part of the article we mentioned the shovel, now would be a good time to use it as this is the only one that is able to get under the car and clear the snow. Don’t try removing the snow with your hands, arms or any other body part, it is useless. The sand you hopefully packed should be placed under each wheel, especially on the drive wheels of the vehicle. For those of you that drive all-wheel drive cars or four-wheel drive, sand should be placed on each of the four wheels of the vehicle.

If all of the above don’t work for your situation, try flagging down an incoming motorist or call a friend/member of the family who could arrange for a tow truck. Most likely they will try to help you by pushing your vehicle, but remember the following: In the front, by turning your wheels while spinning, the tires will throw stuff in the direction of the helper and in the back, a spun tire will throw stuff back, which again isn’t a fortunate situation for the helper.

If you have the extra money to spare, you could increase your car insurance by adding towing coverage. Another idea would be to get an automobile club membership; the decision is up to you.

If you decide to stay close to your immobilized vehicle, avoid sitting in the front of it and try sitting in the back in order to let other motorists see you better and who knows, they might stop and give you a hand. In addition, if another motorist plows into the back end of your vehicle, we are certain that the last place where you would want to be is in the front of it.

As you can see, driving a car on snowy roads can get a little bit tricky if you don’t take the necessary precaution measures. If something really happens when driving, like getting stuck in a snowbank, you should be aware of the fact that there are a couple of ways to get out, without having to call for a towing truck. With the risk of repeating the same thing all over again, do your best and don’t press the acceleration pedal too much. It is highly advisable to drive slow and be very attentive at what is going on around you as the risk of getting in an accident is high in these difficult weather conditions. As they say, better safe than sorry. Good luck and safe driving, especially during the winter months of the year.

Post tags: Tags: ice, snow, winter driving


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Winter Driving

If you haven’t read the first part of our article now would be a good time to do it. If you are planning to take out the car during winter and you obviously will otherwise you wouldn’t read this article, top off the windshield-wiper fluid and replace it with de-icing fluid which will protect your windshield even at temperatures below -30 degrees Celsius.  Some people recommend that the gas tank of the car should be filled as this extra weight will offer additional traction especially on slippery roads. The full tank gas will also come in handy if you get stuck somewhere and you will definitely want to keep the car running to provide the necessary heat. Check the tires before taking the car and fill them to the recommended PSI level. If the pressure is low, it will lower the car’s reaction to steering.

If you happen to live in an area where you rarely need studded snow tires, you might as well mount normal tires with chains in advance of the snow storm. Try to get some cheap steel rims from a salvage yard or any other place where you can get them and purchase also two used tires to match, make sure they fit the wheel! Once you got the tires, chain them up. Go to a tire shop so that the guys over there will remove the excess chain links. After that, inflate the tires you’ve got to the recommended PSI level. Drive slowly and carefully on these chained tires in order to minimize the risk of broken cross-links.

The vast majority of the new chain models can be fitted on the car even if you are already stuck in a pile of snow as you won’t need to remove the wheel or drive on them. It is advisable to practice mounting them on a dry environment and warm weather to get the hang of it. For people living outside the US, with other words, people that use a manual gearbox, it is highly recommended to park the vehicle in reverse of first gear, not on the handbrake as the brake has the tendency to freeze up and on brined roads it tends to rust stuck. If the brake of your car gets stuck because of frost or rust, gently tap it by using a hammer, don’t overdo it! If this won’t work, try to find the car’s parking brake cable housing and give it a yank or two, this should do it.

Once you get down the road make sure that you wear your seatbelt at all times and take it easy. When driving on difficult snowy roads, it is crucial to move slowly and be very attentive at what is going on around you. One of the most important causes of accidents during winter is high speed. For this reason, it is recommended to accelerate and brake in a gentle manner and evenly. Try to look ahead of obstacles, intersections and turns before you encounter them. Avoid making sudden movements which will most likely cause your vehicle to lose traction and fishtail or slide.

The lights of the car should be on at all times. Most of the new models (2009 and forward) are equipped as standard with DRL – day-time running lights, which are very useful during the day, improving the driver’s visibility. The high beam lights should be used only during the night for extended vision when necessary. Once a vehicle approaches, dim them immediately.

Especially on downhills, it is advisable to downshift if you want to decelerate, instead of using the car’s brakes. When climbing up a hill, use a low gear to have more power. When you are downshifting be very attentive because if you have too much speed and shift into an inferior gear, the transmission will force the wheels to skid some while the wheel-speed will reduce in order to match the gear ratio. In order to avoid this situation it is advisable to release the clutch in a slowly and gentle matter.

Be very attentive on those roads that are more apt to be icy, like on lightly-traveled roads and especially when you are crossing bridges. While you are driving and you happen to notice a truck that is dumping salt on the road, it is best to not overtake it and stay well back from the equipment. It is best to use a higher gear if possible and shift in a smooth matter with low rpms. If possible, set your automatic transmission in the winter-setting mode. Some people say that the best gear to drive off the car is the second one, give it a try.

If you have a front-wheel drive car and you use chains make sure that you are very careful when decelerating. The vehicle will have the tendency to break out from the back due to the fact that the braking force on the front wheels is considerably bigger in comparison to the one for the back wheels. A standard modern car is most likely equipped with ABS – anti-lock braking system and drive stability systems like ESP – electronic stability program, which work like a charm during these harsh conditions. This anti-spin control system should be turned off in special occasions when it detects wheel spin and will refuse to give power to the car’s drive wheels.

If the car starts to slide it is advisable to avoid hitting the brake. You should however take the foot off the accelerator pedal and if you are driving a car with a manual gearbox, fully depress the clutch pedal, without hitting the brakes. You should steer the vehicle in the direction you plan on going. In most cases, this is the direction of the skid so if the tail end of your car is skidding left, steer left.

Join us tomorrow for the third and final part of our article where we will be offering useful info for when you get stuck on the road.

Post tags: Tags: ice, snow, winter driving

Winter Traffic

For drivers, winter is by far the hardest season of the year and the rate of accidents during these months goes sky high. For this reason, we have come up with a couple of tips to make your life easier during these months.

First of all, consider alternative transportation for getting from point A to point B. Before starting to search for your car through the pile of snow, think of the advantages and disadvantages of driving today. Of course, you might want to say: Why the hell did a bought a car from my hard-earned money if I’m going to take the bus? Of course, driving a car is far more convenient than taking the bus but during the winter months, a bus is considered by many to be more suitable and faster. If you choose to take the car, you will be spending at least 20-30 minutes getting rid of all that annoying snow. A bus nowadays is safer than any type of car and provides the necessary warmth and in many cases (more than you might think) it could get you to the destination faster.

However, if you still want to take the car (and we fully understand that) you should prepare it ahead of time (a little bit too late now, but bookmark this article for the next winter). The first thing to do is take out your wallet and spend a couple of hundreds of dollars for snow tires. In addition, you could also get a set of tire chains and deposit them in the trunk of your car. If you haven’t used them before, you will be shocked to find out how much traction they offer to the automobile. More than that, in some mountain passes it is obligatory to use chains. On the flip side, in some states in the US the use of chains is prohibited due to the fact that they cause damage to the road so make sure you check the current laws.

You should pack a sleeping bag or a blanket if you plan on going far away from home on long rides. Don’t forget to take the old shovel with you, along with flares, matches, candle and a small bag of sand; you don’t know when you might need it. The blanket will help you keep warm if get stuck somewhere. You will be using the flare in order to alert incoming motorists. No point on explaining what you should do with the shovel.

If you plan on travelling longer distances don’t forget to pack some food and water supplies. Speaking of water, it is useless once it’s frozen and for this reason it is highly advisable to keep it in the passenger compartment with you, otherwise the container might burst and no point of explaining the mess it will create. Once you arrive at the hotel, take the water with you.

A flare is very useful if you have had an accident but the downside is that it lasts only a few minutes. For this reason, it is highly recommended to get a battery-powered strobe which will last you a few hours. You might as well tie or tape it to the antenna of your car so that the wind won’t take it away.

Here is something that not many people know, if you take a roll of toilet tissue and remove the cardboard inner tube and stuff it in your coffee can, you will now have a stove that will help you survive the harsh cold inside the vehicle. Don’t forget to pack 3-4 12 oz. bottles of isopropyl alcohol which you will use to light the toilet tissue. Also, remember to take with you disposable aluminum pie plates. In order to set the stove on as a heat shield, take one of those plates and turn upside down and use it. The heat can be controlled with the other plate by simply covering the part of the can opening. Although this type of alcohol does not emit carbon monoxide it is advisable to open the window of your car just a little bit in order to allow fresh air to come in. You will be surprised of how useful this so-called stove can prove to be when you are stuck.

Just as well you could pack a bar or a towing rope in your car so that if you are stuck somebody could help you or vice versa. If this situation occurs, remember to carefully read the owner’s manual to find out the suitable attachment points for tow ropes because if you are not attentive, the car’s plastic bumper could become history.

It is highly advisable to remove all of the snow from your car before driving away. For this reason, you must scrape the ice/snow located on the windows, headlights, taillights and side mirrors. NEVER start driving if the windows are still fogged. Let the vehicle warm up at least until the windows are not fogged anymore. Before heading out, check all the doors of the car to see if they open and close properly. You never know when a door will open during driving due to frozen latch hardware.

By removing all the snow from your car, you will probably get some of it on your clothes. Most likely, this snow will spill into the edges of your shoes/boots too. Remove all of the snow from your clothing and shoes before getting inside the vehicle because if you don’t do so, the snow will melt and soak all of your clothing as well as the seat of the car which means that you will have a very unpleasant drive.

With the risk of repeating the same thing, warm up the car before leaving home and also remove your coat and hat before driving the car. It is advisable to take off your boots and use sneakers for better paddle handling.

Join us tomorrow for the second part of our guide. Stay tuned.

Post tags: Tags: ice, snow, winter driving


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