Winter Driving - are you prepared?

SylviaSylvia Member Posts: 1,636
The snow and ice is here! Roads are slick. Snow plows are making snow banks at the end of your driveway faster than you can clear it out.

What are you doing to (or putting in) your car to prepare?


  • whahappanwhahappan Member Posts: 69
    I just put my snow tires on the car a few days ago. Most important thing for winter driving. Even all-wheel drive vehicles benefit tremendously from them.

    The reason why you see so many SUV's in the ditch is because 4 wheel drive doesn't help you turn or stop, it only gets you going faster before you crash ;)
  • altair4altair4 Member Posts: 1,469
    We had our first signifcant snow overnight. I find that I have to get a whole different mindset for winter driving. My mental goal is not to have either the ABS or the ASR kick in during the whole winter. When the roads are bad, I allow myself more time to get places so I remove the temptation to step on it.

    Of course, this is on top of having the car fully prepared for the winter. Fluids changed and up to snuff, proper emergency gear stowed in the trunk, tires in good shape and properly inflated. It works for me.
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Member Posts: 1,757
    1) Filled up the gas tank and checked fluids.
    2) Sleeping bag in the trunk with some food.
    3) Extra gloves and fur hat in the back seat.
    4) Little pre-season practice in the local parks parking lot so that i could practice braking in the snow.
    5) Antifreeze replaced next week.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Member Posts: 5,751
    For the last few years I've made it through with RWD and all-seasons. Just got to try out AWD and all-seasons. Found an empty parking lot with some now, and gave the AWD a workout. Gotta say it's great. The key is to drive within the limits of your vehicle and the conditions. So whether you drive a Civic or SUV, you stay out of the snow banks. Remember it's just as easy to crash a Civic as it is a SUV.

    Preparations: Put a shovel, towels, electric ice scraper, jumper cables, salt, hat and spare gloves in the trunk.
  • ustazzafustazzaf Member Posts: 311
    I don't usually do a whole lot to prerpare. I carry my tow strap year round and make sure there are some warm gloves in the truck. I always keep good tires on the truck, so that is never an issue. I will comment on the people that say 4 wheel drive does not help turn or stop. If you have front wheel drive, you will not gain much with 4X4 when turning, but you would gain over rear wheel drive. It is better to be pulled through the corner than pushed. As for stopping, or atleast holding your speed, 4X4 will definately help, especially with stick shift. You can manage the braking by adjusting the engine speed. Much better than the sudden braking. If you start to slip, you can add a tad of fuel to get the tires turning which gives better traction and control. Of course if you think you can drive faster than the conditions warrant because you have 4 wheel drive, then you are crazy. I have only pulled one 4X4 out of the ditch, but several 2 wheel drives. I don't think there are more 4X4s in the ditch than 2s unless the conditions cause everyone with 2s to stay home.
  • just4fun2just4fun2 Member Posts: 461
    Jumper cables are ok if you have someone around that is willing to give you a jump. I have found that a portable jumper power pack is the better answer. Every two months you take it into the house and plug it in to recharge it. I had a completely dead battery (not a noise or a light while turning the key) and the portable jumper started my car right up. Only about $30.00 and comes with a 3 or 4 year warranty for mine if I remember correctly.
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    1. Make sure I carry my cell phone
    2. Make sure my wife carries her cell phone

    That's pretty much it. I live in the south, so there's not much to prepare for.
  • carlisimocarlisimo Member Posts: 1,280
    It can be tough. I put on a sweater as I leave my house, and sometimes I pack an umbrella too.
  • kernickkernick Member Posts: 4,072
    My wife managed to get up our unplowed driveway yesterday with no problem with her Silverado 4x4 yesterday. I tried following her in my AWD X-Type and made it only about 20' because the front bumper was just "snowplowing". So I backed up, walked up the driveway and got the snowblower going. About an hour later I could finally go inside and eat.

    So needless to say I'm considering getting an SUV. I'll just wait until gas hits $3/gal again, and go buy a nice used one. A Grand Cherokee Limited with Quadra-Drive might do. :)
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,019
    the snow brush and the ice scraper. Top off your windsheild washer fluid too.

    I can't imagine how just4fun got a power pack for $30, mine cost $100 or so. :cry:

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    it can be rather tough in Tennessee too. I make sure I've got a big bulky jacket in the back seat and on rainy days I make sure my jacket has a hood and that my wife parks closer to the mall entrance.
  • explorer05explorer05 Member Posts: 14
    installed my blizzak dmz3 on the explorer and dmz2 on the way up in snow country in michigans upper penninsula...these tires from bridgestone have been fantastic..always carry gloves and hat..cell phone too..however cell phone signal not always available throughout area....
  • nobody3nobody3 Member Posts: 27
    I agree. Normally people think AWD helps in acceleration but not in other areas like stopping or steering.

    In AWD, Engine Braking is applied to all 4 wheels rather than just 2 drive wheels. This enhances engine braking and reduces the chances of skidding/ understeering / oversteering. It is not just better than RWD but also FWD. Actually, AWD reduces understering when compared to FWD and oversteeirng when compared to RWD. (based on Car & Driver magazine test results)

    Beware, these benefits are for full time AWDs only but not for the so called real-time-AWD or modifcations of that.
  • ustazzafustazzaf Member Posts: 311
    A couple comments. First of all, power packs. You can get the cheap ones for $20 to the top of the line for $125 or more. The little ones will work for a small car in warm conditions if the battery on the vehicle is not completely dead. Anything more, and you will just have 2 dead batteries. If you go up to the $65 range you can probably find something that will do a pretty good job on most cars. I got a better one, for one so it will also have an air compressor and light incorporated in it, and 2, because it has a good battery. I need to add my toes to count the number of times I have used the compressor. One of the big benefits of a jumper box is saving your electrical system in your car. The worst thing you can do to your car is jump start someone else. It causes spikes when you hook and unhook the cables. It is not bad enough that it burns out alternators and batteries quicker, but it ends up leaving you stranded at the worst time. Even if I spend $150 on a box to save a $60 alternator (try finding one for under $300 anymore), the convenience of not breaking down is worth it. I have an X-Power 400 power pack that I got from Sears for about $89 (on sale) that has the compressor, light, 110V converter, jumper capability and 12 volt cig lighter plug. Had it for over a year and love it. It also has the adapters for blowing up the air mattresses, a pin for basketballs and the adapter to plug in the unit stored in the rear compartment. The only disadvantage is that the cables are not stored on the unit. They plug in the side when needed. No big deal. If you get a box, no matter which one, plug a light or something into it once a month to drain it. Then recharge. It will prolong the life. Also, using the compressor to drain the battery regularly keeps the battery stronger. A jumper box that just sits between charges will die a slow death and be less efficient when needed.
  • just4fun2just4fun2 Member Posts: 461
    I agree, you only get what you pay for. Buying a power pack is like buying a battery for your vehicle. How many cranking amps, amp hrs are important. The more doo-dads i.e. air compressor, lights, power inverters ect. will add to the cost, but those extra's won't help start your car.

    Make sure that when comparing jumper packs that you compare the power of each unit and not the price.

    I bought mine from Home Depot 2 years ago. I looked at a power jumper with a compressor and a few extra, but decided that it was too bulky and very heavy if my wife needed to use it.

    My battery technology must be different. My instructions states that ... frequent discharges between recharges will reduce battery life. So, draining mine each month is not recommended.
  • nobody3nobody3 Member Posts: 27
    I think Lead-Acid type batteries need to be kept fully charged all the time. If the battery is fully discharged/drained the lead becomes spongy and reduces the battery life.
  • pluto5pluto5 Member Posts: 618
    Leave two hours later than normal to miss most of the accidents especially those caused by suicidal utility vehicles. Switch to winter tires on all four wheels on FWD.
  • ustazzafustazzaf Member Posts: 311
    I am certainly not a battery expert, so I may be wrong about the discharging. I will say that I have always used mine until they get discharged, and then recharge them and they have lasted about 2 years so far. They design them with compressors and show them being used to operate lights and stuff at camp sites when 110 is not available. Seems to me that they are endorsing running them down. I would say that if all I ever do is charge and store the box, I have no way of knowing if the box will work when I want it too. I don't have worry about discharging mine just to do it cause they are used almost daily.
  • just4fun2just4fun2 Member Posts: 461
    My jumper pack has a work light which I believe would come in handy if you need to change a tire or do an emergency repair in the dark on the side of the road. I also have LED lights to indicate the state of the battery charge. Only once in the last 2 years did I need to jump my car and it was a life saver.

    I have no idea what the life of this unit is, but I will probably replace it every 5-6 years just to be on the safe side. That works out to around $5.00 dollars a year, cheap insurance. Then I will keep the old one in the garage just in case the power goes out in the house, use it first then use the new unit second. Some light is better than no light sometimes.
  • mthexumamthexuma Member Posts: 43
    In my area most of the accident involve SUV's since people believe that they are god when driving in winter conditions in an SUV. It doesn't make sense especially since a 2500 lb car WILL stop much quicker than a 6000 lb SUV. I would never be able to drive one since safety is always first for me when getting a car and 4-door sedans always have the highest safety ratings. If you drive an SUV you are greatly more likely to kill a pedestrian walking than if you were to hit them with a car since the higher grille of the SUV will more likely hit vital organs. A car striking a pedestrian mostly just breaks their legs. That is why SUV's must drive much slower in the winter than you would be able to do in a car. And then there is rollover factor on icy roads....

    All in all be cautious no matter what vehicle you drive but be especailly cautious when driving an suicidal utility vehicle.
  • explorer05explorer05 Member Posts: 14
    i dont believe that you can draw a direct correlation between accidents and the higher incident of an suv being winter driving it is speed that is the enemy...almost all accidents in winter are due to driving too fast for the conditions..that said, sure maybe some suv drivers accelerate faster, but i wouldnt say that they are the ones in the ditch. rollover accidents only account for 3% of all accidents and there is a trigger...something that makes the vehicle overturn.

    just slow down and watch out for the other guy..
  • mthexumamthexuma Member Posts: 43
    The death rate for occupants in SUVs is 6% higher than in cars.

    The death rate for occupants in large SUVs is 8% higher than in cars.

    62% of SUV occupant deaths were related to rollovers, and 80% of those killed were not wearing their seat belts.

    For every one million "Chevy Tahoe" sized SUVs on the road, 122 people will die; for every one million Honda Accords, 21 people will die.

    For every one life "saved" inside a SUV, five more will be lost in other collisions with SUVs (ie the occupants of the other vehicles).

    2001 marked the first time in ten years that the absolute number of people killed on US roads and highways rose over the year before.

    This is the reason I pointed out that SUV's need to be especially cautious in the winter. They are the most unsafe vehicles on the road and will continue to cause many more accidents each winter.
  • SylviaSylvia Member Posts: 1,636
    Let's not make this a re-hash of "I hate SUV's"
  • ezshift5ezshift5 Member Posts: 858
    .......interesting statistics: I seemed to have missed any sort of hate wording. Conclusions/inferences/accident models are a whole different universe...........

    ..must be a message there somewhere. Nice work, dude.

    seasons best, ez
  • explorer05explorer05 Member Posts: 14
    i will refrain from response as per request by sylvia...
  • extremebigdogextremebigdog Member Posts: 10
    I bought chains from They are a really cool flexible plastic design. And are supposed to work in sand, mud, and snow. It only takes about 2 minutes per tire to put them on. Now we just need some snow...darn 70 degree days. I guess I can go try them at the beach.
  • whahappanwhahappan Member Posts: 69
    These are a new wiper design, they use spring steel instead of hinged arms. Doesn't get clogged with ice like conventional wipers, plus lower profile doesn't lift at high speeds like booted winter blades.

    I got mine in Canada where they are sold by Canadian Tire under the Reflex brand name. They work really well. Here in the States they are available at Pep Boys as Trico Innovision. Give them a try.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    Is ALMOST enough to get me to move back to So. California!
  • splatsterhoundsplatsterhound Member Posts: 149
    Your statistics are incorrect. I suggest you do better homework. Please try backing up your claims with reputable sources when saying the following:

    For every one million "Chevy Tahoe" sized SUVs on the road, 122 people will die; for every one million Honda Accords, 21 people will die.

    As the old saying about groups like this and 'information' on the internet in general: "good plumbing, dirty water." :sick:
  • bobny11580bobny11580 Member Posts: 31
    Thanks for the chuckle Carlos.
  • covah23covah23 Member Posts: 14
    I have several different modes and types of transportation, and all are different in SNOW. My Silverado has climbed over three foot snow piles without even looking twice. My Grand Am doesn't even like the rain. But it doesn't matter if you have a small car, 4x4, front or rear wheel drive, SUV, or pick-up, you can still crash. AWD and 4x4 people do think nothing can happen to them, just watch a lot of them. These vehicles ARE better in snow, no real argument. But, NO MATTER what you drive, ice WILL get you. we are talking about rubber on top of ice and physics take over. Please, everyone, no matter what you drive, respect the road conditions.
  • explorer05explorer05 Member Posts: 14
    excellent point on the ice..and agian slow down and take your time....i have both awd and 4x4 and i do believe that i can be involved in an accident just as likely as anyone..i have equipped both of our vehicles with blizzaks to help achieve all advantages....
  • vibsrvibsr Member Posts: 47
    Well put! Many of the slide-offs that I've seen involved 4WD vehicles. 4WD, AWD, and FWD have a distinct advantage over RWD on takeoff, but stopping is another matter. I often look at it this way: Inability to move the vehicle is an inconvenience, but the inability to stop the vehicle can be deadly. Give the road crews time to clean the roads. Patience is a virtue.
  • lifestarlifestar Member Posts: 44
    I live in Boston and we just had our first real significant storm this past weekend. All I can say is after living on my own for a few years, I've come to realize how important it is to think and plan ahead for the winter. With my new FWD car, I did the following:

    1. Bought a seperate set of wheels and winter tires jsut for this season. Will change back to the OEMs when spring arrives. The wheels are 1 in smaller than my OEM wheels to help increase traction and control.

    2. Got myself a new portable shovel that I can stick in the back of the car.

    3. Keep my battery jump-start juiced up.

    4. Top all my fluids. Pumped more air into my tires to keep them properly inflated.

    5. Give my car at least 2-5 min. of warmup time as the morning temps have been as low as 5 degrees the last two days.

    Besides that, the only thing that is concerning me is actually my GF's car. Has anyone every heard of Sternling tires???
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Member Posts: 5,751
    "I often look at it this way: Inability to move the vehicle is an inconvenience, but the inability to stop the vehicle can be deadly."

    Actually the inability to move can be deadly as well. The inability to stop in any condition shows poor driving skill. I often wonder why both Civics and SUVs alike and everything in-between are involved in car crashes after the first storm.
  • falcononefalconone Member Posts: 1,726
    I don't think that any car/truck has an advantage over one another in snow/ice. What really matters is:

    driver skill
    good tires (dedicated snows)
    stability control

    The reason someone brought up SUVs is that some owners may feel a bit of over confident when they're driving one. When I used to own an Audi the tow truck driver's saying when it snowed was "it's Audi duty time". Why? Lots of Audi drivers thought their quattro systems were invincible. Surprise!! Quattro doesn't stop you.

    Back in 1998 I was driving my A4 down route 17 in Orange County NY. Snow turned to freezing rain and I was going down what's known as Wurtsboro hill. The car lost control and I was in a spin. I hit the brakes as hard as I could and landed rear first in a snow bank. NO DAMAGE. I learned my lesson, though I certainly wasn't driving wrecklessly.

    Bottom line.... BE CAREFUL. Take it slow and keep your distance. Drive extra defensively and you should be fine regardless of what you're driving.
  • fljoslinfljoslin Member Posts: 237
    I (sadly) just sold my 1995 Suburban. I live in E WA where we have had about 1 1/2' of snow and a high temp less that 32F for the last 15 days. I had Michelin X radials (all season) on the Suburban and only put it into four wheel drive for severe traction conditions, mainly up and down the steep hill that I live on, although often that was also in two wheel drive. Most of the time I drove this vehicle in two wheel drive mode and it was great in the snow and ice. I could park this in parking lots that were ploughed snow banks where even most smaller SUVs dare not go and get in and out in two wheel drive. I drove through Snoqualmi pass on I 90 outside Seattle two years ago immediately before the pass was closed for snow. I used four wheel drive more for legal reasons that because of traction.
    For driving in winter, the most important consideration is driving skills: slow down, look ahead, be aware of the road conditions.
    The vehicle is next. Depending on what the conditions are, you need tires with good tread, weight, ground clearance and 4x4.
    So many people forget the driving skills and focus on the vehicle.
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    back when I used to live in chilly North Dakota, I (and my wife) drove slower, more cautiously, and for me, I had a 4WD Mazda MPV that helped.

    But now since I live in the South, all I worry about is rain and how close I can get to that mall entrance. :)
  • godot1066godot1066 Member Posts: 4
    I've been offered a "heck" of a deal on a Honda S 2000. The stock tires are Bridgestone Potenzas. I've heard horror stories. Comments welcom
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    Get the car. If the tires are terrible, ditch em.

    Make sure the car doesn't have a salvage title.
  • saabgirlsaabgirl Member Posts: 184
    Thigs to carry in your trunk: flares, a container with a mix of sand and salt, a shovel.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Bridgestone currently offer 15 different tires with the Potenza name. Which of those 15 Potenza types are you referring to? - uct
  • explorer05explorer05 Member Posts: 14
    i have noticed within the last few weeks that on the edmunds page they have a top 10 tip list one of which is for SUMMER DRIVING? interesting i thought...
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Member Posts: 26,743

    Edmunds works to be everything for everyone. Those tips are for the users in the Southern Hemisphere!

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • xrunner2xrunner2 Member Posts: 3,062
    Numerous excellent tips already given by previous posters.

    When driving in snow or ice, I would add that "defensive" driving steps and concentration need to be ratchetted up to highest level. Leave sufficient space in front of you and watch mirror in case you have to give some extra space to someone following/braking too closely behind. On
    2-lane roads, I view every oncoming vehicle. Avoid conversations with your passenger(s) and cell phone usage is verbotten.
  • explorer05explorer05 Member Posts: 14
    we received around 12 inches of snow last night and today. this am i took the explorer out at around 5 was just me and the snow plows..i hit a few roads that had not been traversed yet and the drifts were up to 2 feet high i have the blizzak DMZ3's and they performed very well. it was a great opportunity to practice emergency manuevers and stopping. however at lunchtime i was fiinshing off the walk and right in front of me my neighbor with his grand cherokee pulled out in front of an escape...he skiided into the intersection and just missed hitting the escape....just goes to show...PAY ATTENTION....
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Member Posts: 5,751
    "just goes to show...PAY ATTENTION.... "

    Just further reinforces how much you are at the mercy of someone else.

    A few years ago was heading home from work. A major snowstorm started mid-afternoon. By 5pm it was very bad. On the highway there was a tremendously bad traffic jam going up a hill. When I finally got to the top I saw the issue...a Lexus 430 who was going nowhere fast and whose tires couldn't handle the snow. I felt bad for this poor unprepared person. With my 4 heavy duty R/T tires and AWD I had no issue whatsoever.

    One needs to be at least slightly prepared.
  • explorer05explorer05 Member Posts: 14
    my father in law had the ls 430 sport pack...traded it in for the GX...he has to come and visit us for the holidays...too bad his ls was beautiful...but he almost was stuck in my driveway last winter..
  • coldfootcoldfoot Member Posts: 49
    Also carry some cat litter and a gallon of bleach.
  • explorer05explorer05 Member Posts: 14
    whats the bleach for?
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