Once with the drastic drop in temperature, winter makes us feel its presence through sleet, snow and last but not least through the ice and glaze frost that all drivers fear.
Maybe some drivers have learnt what their reaction should be in any unforeseen situation due to some past experiences or due to some information acquired with the time. But, unfortunately, not all drivers know what they have to do when the roadway is frozen or when there’s snow outside and they have to drive.
Let’s see some essential tricks in order to be able to drive when there’s a lot of snow or ice on the road:
Put on the winter tires on time
If you still wonder when it’s high time for the tires to be changed if it has not snowed yet, or if you do not got to the mountains, here’s the answer: when the thermometer indicates less than 7 degrees Celsius.
Tires manufacturers come with an explanation: every summer tire has in its composition a special material which hardens to low temperatures, this way losing grip. Moreover, winter tire it’s made of a softer material which can keep it’s elasticity even at very low temperatures.
More than that, it would be advisable to permanently keep in your car trunk, a set of chains so that you can put on if it’s needed.
Very important: once with the warm weather, the winter tires must be replaced with the summer ones as soon as possible. Since they are not made to withstand high temperature, they will soon get worn out. Also, being too elastic, they do not offer the necessary grip in corners or sudden braking.
Avoid driving if it’s not urgent
When the weather is very bad ( strong blizzard, freezy rain, heavy snowfall or frost it’s recommended to avoid travelling by car. If visibility is low and the roadway is covered with a thick layer of snow or if it’s icy, the chances to be able to avoid an accident can be considerably diminished.
Generally speaking, if you do not have a medical emergency or if you don’t have to got to work by car, it would be advisable to protect it by leaving it in the parking lot. The fewer cars on the street, the lower chances of unfortunate events to happen.
Drive slowly and cautiously
It is very important not to rough up the car in any way when the road is covered with snow, ice or frost. First of all, it would be useful to:
- Accelerate slightly in order to be able to leave the place.
- Do not quickly rotate the steering wheel left or right to avoid a possible skid. Brake progressively to avoid locking the wheels and slipping.
- Turn on the headlights during the day as an extra safety measure.
Take into account the fact that no matter how good the winter tires might be, they have no grip on icy snow or frost. Imagine that you have a glass of water on the board that you don’t have to spill, so you will be able to drive the car slowly and with a lot of caution.
This way, anticipation and concentration become very important. Watch whatever’s around you and think about what you have to do in every situation. Keep a double or even triple distance (especially on ice) from the car in front to have enough braking time and space.
Learn how to control the car when it skids.
Any driver will, at some point, experience a skid on snow or ice. This can easily happen when accelerating, taking a turn or braking suddenly. It is preferable to learn how to react when the tires have lost grip and the car gets into skid.
Here are some useful tips:
First of all, it is very important to try to keep calm when you feel that the car is starting to skid. If you panic, that will make the situation worse.
Take your foot off the throttle, gently and slowly turn the steering wheel in the direction you were going. Only when the car has recovered, try to accelerate again. If you want to swerve, but the car keeps moving forward, the best solution is to stop accelerating and brake slightly (only if necessary) while handling the steering wheel.
When the snow on the road begins to melt, the phenomenon of aquaplaning may occur.
In this situation, you have to slightly lift your leg from the throttle or even stop accelerating at all if necessary.
Avoid using autopilot
On the long distances, especially on the highway, the autopilot use, may be a very relaxing option. Unfortunately, however, in winter, this system blocks the driver from having complete control over the vehicle.
The autopilot may be disconnected but by the time this happens, it might already be a little too late.
Constantly assess tire grip
Normally, cars are equipped with traction control systems (TCS), stability (ESC) and anti-brake lock (ABS). Even if they exist and are perfectly functional, it is still good to find out what the condition of the road is and the grip of the tires when you set off.
When driving on a straight road, make sure there is no other car in the back and brake a little more sharply for two seconds.
In such a case there are two options:
If the brake pedal hardens and vibrates as you press the brake pedal, but the car does not decelerate, it means that on the road there is frost or ice and the tires have no grip. That would be a high risk of skidding.
When the car decelerates and the ABS goes harder into operation, the tires will have enough grip to be able to move smoothly on that stretch of the road.
Driving during winter, might be a real challenge for some drivers. That’s why it is very important to try to take care of the car to be perfectly functional and equipped with the best winter tires.
Moreover, you have to take into account the ways in which you should react to any unforeseen event that may occur along the way.