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Winter Driving - are you prepared?

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Comments

  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,627
    but you know this would have to be a pretty radical maneuver, like downshifting from 5 to 2 racing downhill

    Well that's just it, it's easier to avoid radical inputs to the drivetrain by being in the correct gear as opposed to coasting. A car in neutral will pick up speed
    going downhill, forcing input from the brakes to keep at a safe speed whereas it's possible by downshifting to "crawl" down at a steady speed slow enough to avoid having to brake which is the last thing you want to do. To get down the steep hill leading to my home I downshift to second or third (A/T or manual) to slow the car. I've done it everyday in all weather for 11 years without the least problem.

    If a person, vehicle animal or a tree limb were to force me to brake I'd be going slowly enough to smack it into a snowbank without any problems. I doubt that'd be the case if I were "freewheeling" down in neutral.

    I think our friend is confused because you're supposed to put a manual shift
    in neutral when braking on ice. That's something I've never done because I try to avoid braking on ice altogether.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,870
    Well your FOOT might be braking on ice but your car won't be.

    It's a nice gesture, but futile, as we have all seen from those YouTube videos...the pitiless, gradual slide downward to destruction...the frantic, useless flickering of brake lights, the spinning of the steering wheel to and fro, and the car just ignoring all that input and obeying the laws of gravity, thank you very much.

    MODERATOR

  • oldharryoldharry Posts: 413
    I have owned and driven FWD RWD 4WD, and engine braking is safe with all if your skills are up to the task. With FWD (or any other) on ice, I never slam into a lower gear going down hill. Touch the gas to synchronize during the shift if a down shift is necessary, then back off the pedal slowly. Keep your foot on the pedal, and increase wheel speed if slippage starts. With FWD, the rear wheels roll free when engine braking, and are LESS likely to skid than with a RWD.

    If you lack the experience, practice on a large, level parking lot from moderate speeds. It does not take many tries to learn what to expect.

    Braking in neutral, can get you into much trouble. The ABS may release the bakes, but there may not be enough friction to start the wheels turning to regain steering. Engine power with ABS restores steering.

    Telling an inexperienced driver to shift into neutral may get him killed, and is totally irresponsible.

    Harry
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "...Engine power with ABS restores stearing..."

    So, you're saying that if the surface is so very slippery that the tire will not rotate during the period of ABS brake release then a little power application from the engine will help get it, keep it rotating...??

    I would imagine should a person ever encounter a road surface THAT slippery then the primary option would be to bury the brake pedal into the floor and then hang on and pray.

    "I never slam into a lower gear going down hill.."

    Slam....??!!

    With an automatic transaxle just how do you "ease" into a lower gear...??

    Methinks you might be thinking back to the good old clutch pedal days when "easing" into a lower gear was entirely possible.

    Apply even the slightest level of gas pedal pressure along with moving the shifter to select a lower gear and with most modern day automatics, especially those "coupled" with DBW, you will get a sudden burst of "acceleration", in this case MORE wheelspin.

    DBW programming is typically such that it will hold off on engine RPM elevation until the downshift is completed. And unless I miss my guess the programming will be such that with this set of inputs an "expectation" of quick acceleration will be the norm.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "Telling an inexperienced driver to shift into neutral may get him killed, and is totally irresponsible.."

    Really...??

    http://209.85.173.132/search?q=cache:zz1l1OUp3ysJ:www.wcpo.com/news/local/story/- Winter-Driving-Tips/IljH1zT6fEeKeAmTXrTlBw.cspx+AAA+winter+driving+fwd+neutral&h- l=en&ct=clnk&cd=4&gl=us&lr=lang_en

    Follow the link and read the publication. Then use the very same search terms to see just how many government agencies plus the military are recommending just that procedure.

    Targeting specifically toward INEXPERIENCED drivers.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "Your manual will tell you how..."

    NOT...!!

    At least not for Toyota or Lexus and likely any passenger car equipped with an automatic climate control designed by NipponDenso or Denso US.

    These have a serious design flaw, not only serious but potentially DANGEROUS. These are designed to rely SOLELY on the operational functionality of the A/C for dehumidifying the incoming airstream in order to prevent and/or remove interior windshield condensation.

    Not on point, you say...

    Well, yes, but....

    The problem in this instance results from the fact that once the passenger cabin has been heated to within a few degrees of setpoint the airflow routed to the interior surface of the windshield will be as much as 20F BELOW the setpoint, but by Denso's desire, VERY DRY.

    Big deal.

    If you drive into and area wherein the outside of the windshield needs warming then you MUST not only switch to defrost/defog/demist mode but raise the target temperature setpoint. I would suggest raising the setpoint DRAMATICALLY, maybe even to MAX, until the icing trend has definitely been reversed.

    Good luck.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,870
    Just because AAA says it doesn't mean it's particularly useful advice. If you read the entire step by step procedure they are advocating, they apparently want you to:

    1. take foot off gas as front wheels skid
    2. put car in neutral
    3. do not immediately steer to correct--let the car stay out of control until traction returns
    4. THEN Steer in the direction you want to go
    5. Then put the car in drive.

    YEAH RIGHT---as if the person wouldn't be in a panic by then.

    I mean, some of this stuff is right out of 1948. "Hang a brightly colored cloth from your antenna?"

    SAY WHAT?!!!

    MODERATOR

  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Apparently you have never had to stear into a skid as the car slides toward the edge of the road on Rodgers Pass. MT200.

    Panic, yes, but knowing what to do beforehand often abates or at least lowers the panic level and thereby allows one to act rationally or at least moreso. When the stall warning goes off just as you depart the runway you can either panic, "freeze", and die or push the nose down just far enough to prevent a SUDDEN UNCONTROLLED return to the runway.

    Education, knowing what to do, TRUMPS panic responses each and every time.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Are you disagreeing that the procedure would work or is it just that you believe most would panic, freeze, and never get to step 2...??

    People are a lot less likely to panic if they recognize the situation as one for which that have some preparedness, plan.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,870
    Thanks for asking!

    I'm saying that the procedure is both unrealistic for the average driver and no more effective than not putting it in neutral.

    Having lived in New York and the mountains of Colorado and worked in the wilds of Alaska for a year, I've tried every damn procedure in the books for snow driving.

    I do not claim to be the expert snow driver, but I have driven 40 years in the nastiest weather and never had a mishap, and most of it with RWD machinery or, in Alaska, 4WD trucks.

    Anyway, that's my two cents. I don't think most American drivers should be told to put a car into neutral except to START IT and to TOW IT :P

    They simply do not have the skill level for this sort of thing.

    MODERATOR

  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,555
    With an automatic transaxle just how do you "ease" into a lower gear...??

    For my ski hill, I just stick the tranny in the appropriate gear before starting out. Usually 3rd. If conditions warrant, I'll notice in the first quarter mile and be able to gently slow down so I can downshift the automatic to 2nd without kissing the snowbank.

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    Need help navigating? stever@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,870
    I just find it rather unbelievable that some 65 year old guy (someone likely to be reading advice from AAA) starts skidding towards a tree or an embankment or another car....he does NOT instinctively turn the wheel, but just takes his foot off the gas and calmly shifts into neutral as the car heads for its target.....then, as he nears the target, he notices that his car seems to have more traction, and then he turns into the skid while simultaneously putting the car back into drive (not 1, not 2, not reverse, but Drive--presumably not looking at anything but the target).

    Well good luck and god bless but I don't have the presence of mind to do that.

    MODERATOR

  • oldharryoldharry Posts: 413
    Well, I admit I have never downshifted a TOYOTA drive by wire on ice, but I have with a Cadillac, and the engined 'blipped' up a few rpm on throttle tap, then settled right back down. Engine braking FWD slows the front without locking the rear. GM had to recall some FWD's because the rear brakes were too aggressive, and rear wheel lock cause the car to swap ends on slippery roads.

    A body shop guy told me, however, that he has a customer that rearended other cars twice with a new Nissan DBW because the driver in front started away from a stop light, then slowed, and the Nissan kept accelerating after he lifted his right foot.

    Perhaps Mr. West is recommending not to buy a Japanese label FWD?

    Harry
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Before Cadillac decided to discontinue the FWD models entirely, along with the highly esteemed V8, most of them had already been revised to prevent engine compression braking on the front wheels. If I remember correctly they said they had adopted an "over-running" clutch within the transaxle so that the wheels could NOT "drive" the engine.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    First, the only "FWD" you will find me out in adverse conditions with is an '01 F/AWD RX300. All year around there is ONE set of tire chains on board stowed in the center "well" of the spare tire. Come wintertime the second set goes onboard.

    About two weeks ago both sets were installed and not removed until a few days ago.

    But. Most of my early wintertime driving experience was in NH, Goose Bay, Alaska, and MT, not one FWD in all that time and experience and I don't remember driving anything but RWD.

    So, yes, many's the time I had to "hang on and pray". The rear end coming around to my "right", stear right, into the skid (against EVERY survival instinct, and often toward the road drop-off, if not an immoveable object) wait, wait, wait, until traction "catches", now gently, even so gently begin stearing back into the direction you wish to go....

    Sweat pouring off your brow.

    Maybe I was just one of the lucky ones, before the AF would allow me to drive on the flight line I had to practice, again and again, losing control of our SAC equipment "bread trucks" on glare ice, and then recovering to do it yet again. Until my instructor decided I wasn't a danger to our B47's or KC-97's.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,627
    With an automatic transaxle just how do you "ease" into a lower gear...??

    It's very difficult with the old-fashioned column-mounted PRNDL type shifters but it's a snap with modern "manumatic" setups that have either paddle shifters or console mounted levers. I do it every day with the Steptronic in my 5-Series.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    The question was not intended to ask how you "input" your desire for the transaxle to downshift, but how might the firmware complete the downshift softly, with "ease". Is there any automatic transaxle/transmission firmware that doesn't use a quick/FAST BANG-BANG procedure for DOWNSHIFTING, release one clutch set and engage the next...??

    And a 5-series implies a RWD or R/AWD vehicle which is not really a part of the subject matter here. And remember that these days the "shifter", regardless of type of implementation, floor console, column, or "paddle", is simply a set of electrical switches which are switched on or off, INSTANTLY insofar as the controlling ECU is concerned.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,555
    Well, I had a FWD Voyager in Anchorage for ten winters and I never had any problems downshifting with the PRNDL column shifter. My '99 Quest only spent one winter in Anchorage and I don't take it skiing too much here in Boise, but I haven't any issues cranking it down a gear on the column either. Maybe it's just what you get used to.

    I'd like to see some accident reports or studies saying that FWD vehicles are inherently unsafe on snowy winter roads.

    Now that I think of it, if you did an accident survey, you'd probably find that AWD/4WD vehicles are inherently unsafe on winter roads - it's always 4WD SUVs you see in the ditch or playing turtle. :P

    btw, I drove the Quest to Goose Bay NFLD/Labrador, but don't remember a Goose Bay in Alaska.

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  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "..it's always 4WD SUVs..."

    Yes, too few "true" 4WD/4X4 SUV driver/owners know to take the system out of LOCKED mode once underway. Like FWD, that makes them more likely to get up and going initially, but just downright HAZARDOUS(***) in those conditions if you leave the center diff'l locked.

    And then there is the SUV group that think the AWD system allows them to go out and play in the snow with impunity.

    NOT...!!

    *** Most modern day 4WD/4X4 vehicles will entirely disable ABS/VSC/TC with the center diff'l locked since those features cannot be functional.
  • bigfurbigfur Posts: 649
    Talk about winter driving at its worst. Thursday and friday both saw over ten rollovers alone in the morning rush hour because of black ice. The temp was about negative 30 with a wind chill of about negative 50. I wonder what is worse, the feeling of the car as its rolling over or standing outside the car waiting for the state patrol to show up???
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,870
    30 below is pretty punishing if you're standing outside. I remember Alaska at 50 below and it was painful to breath. It was very dangerous at those temps to be out for very long and no, you don't want to grab your door handle with your bare hands.

    MODERATOR

  • bigfurbigfur Posts: 649
    I dont get it, these are the same idiots that drive across a frozen lake with no problems. Yet when it comes to just a little bit of black ice on a curve in a road they end up on their roof.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,627
    Driving across a flat surface with few obstacles is a whole different thing from driving on an icy road with traffic, curves, dips rises and blind spots.

    Black ice sneaks up on you, surprise can create panic.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,870
    There you go.....PANIC....brain freezes, pedal mashed to floor, wheel locked or arms flailing....and probably too late to do anything even if you came to your senses.

    MODERATOR

  • bigfurbigfur Posts: 649
    Gotta love black ice. Nothing better then it being so cold your exhaust freezes.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    In the mid-nineties there was a series of devasting ice storms on the east coast. I was driving a manual and after yet another ice storm went to work the next day. I came off a clear road speed limit 55, onto an exit ramp, doing about 30, which clar for the first 10 feet then was black ice the rest of the length. As I rounded the curve scared out of my head, a car had previously spun out in front of me and was perpendicular to the road...no chance of me stopping. The driver saw me coming and not suprisingly had a look of panic.

    In a split second I mashed the clutch keeping the car in neutral, prayed, steered slightly to left to avoid the cars front, hoped I wouldn't hit the guardrail on the left. Managed to get around the car without hitting anything, then the exit ramp turned into a downgrade straight to the stop sign at the bottom.

    I kept the car in neutral, the plan was to mash the brakes when I was even with the stop sign and hope I didn't hit an innocent car who happened to be in the intersection at the wrong time. The almighty must have been looking after me, as when I hit the brakes at the stop sign there were no cars in the intersection and I stopped in the middle of the road.

    It could have ended much, much worse. Lesson to be learned is one can't panic.
  • tj6968tj6968 Posts: 23
    I use Tripledge wiper blades. They've worked well for me... they are silicone so it will last longer than rubber. I bought them from www.buytripledge.com but I think you can find them other places.
  • ray80ray80 Posts: 1,257
    Also, although I don't know its weather related, its a good time to check lights. I found I have a headlamp, and have seen 3 others on each of the last 2 nights with headlamps out..
  • I had a 97 sentra as my first car in high school. I suggest you drove it into a wall and use the insurance money as a down payment. Those cars are garbage, I hated it, terrible in snow, no power. Luckily for me, my girlfriend wrecked it for me and I got a used Cherokee. Night and day difference, more power actually works in snow which made the sentra seem like a go-kart with a/c.

    There is something to be said about a V8 and 4WD. Its worth the difference in fuel consumption if you ever have to deal with snow. Also if you ever get in an accident, chances are, you win. Keep in mind that an SUV with a poor crash test rating will still demolish a smaller car with even the best crash test rating, a little know fact.
  • Do they actually get rid of the nasty dirt and snow from the tires of other cars or do you still have to squirt the washer fluid to remove it? I would love to find a blade that kept me from constantly using the washer fluid. I'm always afraid I'm going to run out.
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