Understanding the 5 Crucial Components of Handling Your Vehicle in Winter Weather
Lifestyle Don’t get stuck spinning your wheels. Read up on these ways to use the features of your car to your advantage this winter.
Winter driving can be a matter of life or death. Do it right, and you’ll reach your destination safely. Get it wrong and you could find yourself diverting to a different destination — in the back of an ambulance. These techniques for navigating through dangerous driving conditions are the same no matter what vehicle or tires you have.
Be super gentle when stepping on the gas pedal. Too much throttle and your wheels will start to spin. If you find yourself stuck in snow or slush, apply the throttle gradually, and ease off if you feel the wheels spinning.
Start off in second gear if you can. Automatic transmissions often have a winter setting, so make use of it. Change up early, and keep the revs low. The lower the better.
Stomping too hard on the brakes can cause them to lock up, so ease off before reapplying them more gently. It’s important to have anti-lock brakes, but since this is a reactive system it’s much better not to trigger it in the first place. Don’t get in the habit of relying on your anti-lock brakes to prevent an accident, but do use them as an indicator that you are approaching the limits of your vehicle’s grip on the road. In winter, leave more space than you normally do between your vehicle and the driver ahead of you to ensure you have enough time to stop on icy roads.
Turn the wheel slowly. If you find the car is sliding out of your control, don’t wind on the lock further, but momentarily straighten out to regain control then turn again in the direction you want to go. Slow down and remember: less is more.
5. Traction control systems
Keep electronic traction aids on — their reaction time is faster than yours. The only occasion you might try turning off traction control is if you’re stuck in deep snow and its intervention is hindering progress.
In short, be sensible, slow down and take it easy. Consider taking a low traction driving course. They’re great fun and you’ll learn a lot. Good luck this winter, and if this all makes you nervous, better stay at home!