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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

6 winter driving reminders (even if you don't get snow)

Compared to the sweetness of summer, winter driving and its icy, slow-going is not everyone's idea of fun. Slippery and fast-changing conditions make the cold season the most dangerous for motorists. Luckily, with a measured degree of care and attention, you can beat the odds and arrive for spring ready to cruise.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/driving/6-winter-driving-reminders-even-if-you-dont-get-snow/
50 REPLIES 50
Dond
Intermediate Driver

Have you seriously driven that rear wheel drive van without winter tires this winter, in Michigan? You should have your driver's license revoked. There is no excuse. You endanger yourself and others with your thoughtless behavior.
Kyle
Moderator

Whoa there. Yes, I do drive this van year round. No, I do not currently have winter tires, but because of that I behave accordingly. There have been days where I've put off errands or trips due to weather or conditions but to say driving this is endangering the public is nothing more than hyperbole. Driving is a privilege, not a right and thus requires a person to behave responsibly.

Compared to some of the claptraps I see on the 55mph road out front of my property on a daily basis, this van and its tires are the least of your problems.
PRScott
Detailer

You did get one thing right. Driving is a privilege. So be responsible and put 4(four) winter tires on that van and stop trying to justify not doing it!
FartinMartin
Pit Crew

What good is 4 winter tires? There's only 2 drive wheels.
OldCarMan
Instructor

Are you a progressive nanny?
STHU! We don't care about your opinion- belly buttons, opinions, and ...
This is a gentle reminder is all, not your woke soapbox1
bblhed
Advanced Driver

I have to disagree with expert from the Internet, I have lived in New England most of my life and I see less and less need for snow tires as I age and get more secure in my employment. The Town and State do a wonderful job of clearing the snow and I don't do that bad of a job myself. I will assume that Kyle is a grown adult capable of planning ahead so that there is enough food and fuel at his home for at last three days all the time during winter. I will also assume that the weather service can forecast major storms days if not a week in advance. I will also assume that Kyle like myself can figure out how to say there is nothing that I need to travel to in a snow storm that can't wait for the roads to be clear.

Dear expert from from the internet, you would do well to remember that people only need given pieces of equipment if they actually will need them. You should have your winter walking rights revoked if you don't wear crampons 24/7 from November to April. See how that feels?
Silvermane
Intermediate Driver

"Driving is a privilege, not a right and thus requires a person to behave responsibly."

Silly statement. Our rights also require us to behave responsibly in how we use them.
elldorado2000
Detailer

I'm in NE Ohio. It's the middle of January and there isn't a single snow flake on the ground. Not everything about global warming is bad. 🙂
Waterboy1KHY80
Intermediate Driver

Keep saying your prayers, here in MI. it is 14 degrees and single digits at night.
Srmert
Intermediate Driver

You are endangered yourself for believing that winter tires are some magical fix for reduced traction and icy conditions! I have lived and safely driven in the Midwest before there were the current level of winter tires, and when there have been higher average snowfalls than currently. We only had rear wheel drive on American made autos and vans for most of the 60s, 70s, 80s. No traction control or ABS. Never got stuck, or caused an accident because I have driven in control of my vehicle and with mindful behavior for the conditions at hand.
Tinkerah
Technician

Probably not. I worked field service all over New England for a company with a small fleet of Express vans and they were surprisingly sure footed in snow and ice with all-seasons. Loaded with tools and gear (or stored projects) they were better than a lot of front drive vehicles.
freeplay
New Driver

A great way to make friends there, Dondi...did you forget who your audience is here...at Hagerty...? You better stay home for the next 50 years or one of us in our "classic" RWD vehicles with vastly inferior braking, handling and traction control will drive right over the top of your Subaru...horrible to think what a school bus, Amazon delivery van or 53' truck could do to you...is the sky falling...?
Spider
New Driver

You forgot the most important thing - slow down.
Practice with your ABS brakes in a parking lot. Unlike the old days, you DO want to hit your brakes hard and let the ABS do the pedal pumping.
Tinkerah
Technician

Having spent all my adult life driving in New England I consider myself a master pedal pumper (which is not pumping so much as oscillating between rolling and locking as narrowly as possible) so this has been the hardest thing for me to adapt to. I know in my head the ABS is better than me but retraining reflexes built up over 40+ years has not been going well.
OldCarMan
Instructor

The trouble with most Americans that drive the SUV dujours, is that they are NOT sports cars, even with 4wd! Great traction and running fast is only good IF you can also stop. See far too many that miss that physics concept!
930Flachbau
Intermediate Driver

You forgot the most important tip....
Carry extra gear. Winter boots, blanket, flashlight, battery pack (to extend cell phone battery), gloves and head gear.
OldFordMan
Advanced Driver

7. DON'T DRIVE DRUNK!
tcchuck2005
Intermediate Driver

I get winter tires on separate rims, then it's an easy swap each fall and spring. Invest once and you are good for a few years.
AG1962
Advanced Driver

Thanks for the explanation of why it is not just polite but safety-critical to clear snow off vehicle roofs! Excellent point!

 

I agree that actual snow tires are an absolute necessity in snow-country winters, even with that extra weight above the rear axle in your van. Kyle, buy four steel rims, get snows mounted on them, and swap them yourself each fall and spring. Your other tires will last longer (if stored properly) and your overall cost long-term will hardly be any higher.

FigueroB
Pit Crew

The're probably not available yet for full size vans, but a new class of tire is becoming popular called "All Weather" tires.Two examples are the MIchelin CrossClimate2 and the CrossClimate SUV.
I have them on my BMW and they perform very well. Probably not as good as a set of Blizzaks on glare ice, but probably 90% as good.
In the majority of winter driving conditions in areas like Traverse City, I'd wager they are every bit good as dedicated most dedicated winter tires. In some areas, maybe better.

autowriter
Intermediate Driver

It used to be that when the first substantial snowfall hit, we would head for a large parking lot -- generally at night -- and practice simple maneuvers just to get the feel of them again. How to accelerate on snow and ice (meaning don't press the accelerator hard because it just polishes the road). How to stop. (The technique is different with ABS brakes.) How to handle a skid. (Which can be great fun but turning the wheel in the direction of the skid feels counter-intuitive.) How long it takes to get things corrected and regain control at different speeds. How to regain directional control by letting up on the gas. Things like that. It took 30-45 minutes to get the feel of the skills again, but made things lots easier later. It is also important if one does that to do it with each car that one is likely to drive in the winter. Different vehicles handle differently.
FigueroB
Pit Crew

Although technically correct advice, "Turn in the direction of the skid" is at best counter intuitive.
A simpler and more straight forward way of saying the same thing is to "Turn in the direction you want the car to go".
If you are heading into oncoming traffic, turn to the right. If you are heading into the ditch, turn to the left.
GC
Intermediate Driver

What you are saying is only correct if you are skidding in the desired direction of travel, so you would be steering into the skid. If you were skidding in other direction and simply steered in the direction you want to go, you would spin. The original poster is correct -- steer into the skid.
CarlJensen
Pit Crew

Consider taking your teenagers to a winter performance driving school like the one offered at Road America. It will be fun, and they will be far more prepared, and less likely to panic, if they spin on a slippery road.
Tim2
Pit Crew

This is in response to DOND, kinda harsh there dude. I grew up and still live in northern Michigan in the 70,s and all we had was real wheel drive. Nobody would have had a lisçense according to your criteria.i drive a ram and have it in rear wheel drive only 99% of the time. Can I keep my lisçense? Never been the cause of an accident and I'm 62 years old.
JimEvans
New Driver

I learned to drive in the mid '60's in Chicago before the advent of local plowing and salting, in cars with RWD and bias tires (usually half bald!). One trick I learned then and still use for slippery pavement is to shift (automatic trans) into neutral while slowing down to stop and/or before entering a turn...shift back into drive when leaving the stop or as you come out of the turn. Also works at the first sense of slipping while in a straight line. Gives a noticeable improvement to vehicle control.
AG1962
Advanced Driver

Oh yes, I had forgotten about shifting into neutral on a slushbox while slowing or turning! That’s a blast from the past…

Tim
Instructor

The title says "even if you don’t get snow," but most of these items are snow-specific. I can't think of one of them that would apply to people driving in places like Southern California or Hawaii. 😄
JAG
Detailer

For the windshield washer fluid, if you have a full reservoir in the vehicle make sure to use as much of it as you can if you expect normal winter temps to drop into or below single digits. The alcohol in the washer fluid can evaporate due to exposure to hot under hood temps. That is why sometimes it just freezes when it hits the glass.
goldwolfnhn
Pit Crew

Dond and PRScott from your responses to driving a rear wheel drive vehicle in the winter without winter tires, that tells me that neaither of you have skill driving without using modern "Safety features to help keep your vehicle on the streets.

I live in Wisconsin and pretty much every vehicle I've driven or own has been a rear wheel drive, heck I've even driven my 1986 GMC Crew Cab Dually with a HIPO 454 in a snowstorm, no cap no extra weight and never had any issues, BECAUSE I KNOW HOW TO DRIVE, your responses tell me that neither of you know how to drive. Heck I liked driving that monster during the winter as it was the only time I could easily drift the truck around corners without major wear and tear on the drivetrain. even freaked out a former co-worker when I drifted the truck around a corner after picking her up to take her to work.

there's only one vehicle I have that I've ever considered winter tires for and that's my 1994 Buick Roadmaster Estate wagon with factory iron head LT1.
Maestro1
Technician

Kyle, many Blessings for this. I was born and raised on the Atlantic Coast and I learned all this from my Father. I am now on the Left Coast in the Mountains and although I'm low enough in altitude so we don't get snow it does get cold and your advice is still meaningful here.
Stay well.
DanC
Intermediate Driver

I am surprised you did not mention the “oh s&@t” bag. A properly equipped bag with a blanket,candle, candy bar, jump box and/or cables, accessible from the vehicle interior is imperative. My bag has a tow strap, flares and more. My bag is just one cubic foot and even includes a small fire extinguisher that I once used to assist a trucker with a burning brake. Like the scout motto says, be prepared.
KeninFL
Pit Crew

All these are useful. I'd add a warning to be alert for black ice. Winter roads, like the one in the pic for "Extra Stopping Distance" can look easy to handle until you come upon the usually invisible ice and then you go for an unpleasant ride. Drivers new to winter driving especially need to learn about black ice. (Yes, I'm in FL but spent many years dealing with Northeast winter roads.)
TominToronto
New Driver

7, keep your distance

One car length for each 10 Miles per hour.

 

8. Watch your speed, winter tires are not miracle devices, they work best best with lots of space and reduced velocity.

 

 

RJMatt
Intermediate Driver

The battery you show has the SOLD ON DATE, NOT the build date! It may have sat for six months before being installed. There is usually a month/year stamp someplace on the battery for the build date.
Winter tires DO make a difference if you drive in snow for part of the year. The second set of rims is a good way to do it. Other than that, good advise for people who need to drive in winter/icy conditions.
79centurytc
New Driver

I've been driving for almost 54 years and know all these reminders by heart, but it's a great idea to bring them up every year. Unless the snow tires are studded, they're not worth the additional cost. I haven't run snow tires in decades. Another tip I might add for those that have a front wheel drive daily driver. Having worked in tire sales for 7 years before I retired in 2020, I can't tell you how many times I tried to explain to someone that wanted to install 2 snow tires on the front for their car that it was extremely dangerous to do so. Regardless of the type of drive system you have, you want the tires with the best traction on the rear.
79centurytc
New Driver

Unless your wiper blades are damaged, try this trick to help prevent streaking. Dampen a rag with washer fluid and gentle run it up and down the blade. You will be surprised by the results. Regarding washer fluid, I use winter grade all year long. That makes it simple and you can purchase it at a discount at the end of the season.
Gary_Bechtold
Gearhead

Why people don't bother to clear the roof I never know. Always fun to see some ice chunk of snow heading your way.

Winter tires plus AWD turbo Subaru led to way too much fun in the snow. The only joy of Chicago winters was driving in unplowed lanes and never feeling ABS kicking in.
RG440
Advanced Driver

Until you have the six inches of snow with a sheet of ice attached to it coming off the top of a semi trailer on the expressway engulf your entire vehicle before creating “mayhem” (we all know him) the general public doesn’t get it. Safety needs to be a mindset that first responders give you a welcome smile when seeing your habits!

Winter tires (the best) on an all wheel drive Challenger or Charger (pick your drivetrain combo) makes snow painting a new winter sport no longer limited to airplanes writing messages in the sky….the toasty warm seats, steering wheel, mirrors and driver make it a joy that only Mopar Muscle can provide ….
Waterboy1KHY80
Intermediate Driver

I run the same rig 12 months a year delivering bulk e-commerce (2017 3500 Express). and prior to now, I ran a 2004 95K per year (put 770K on it) across northern MI. regardless of weather. Snow tires are a MUST and I would add, good break pads are also important, due to poor traction this is more important than some mite realize. Also, not watching far enough ahead, causes more accidents than anything, watching for "other drivers" about to share the same space your already in. I am able to store mine inside, and believe this adds substantial life to all components. Lastly, keep your windshield washer reservoir full. God I hate winter.
mrbill428
New Driver

The date calendar shown is not the mfg date. That is the installation date. And your lucky if it's punched out. Mfg dates are a letter and a number indicating the month and year built. Usually a circle on the side of the battery.
In some states, not clearing the roof is illegal, and in others, if the snow hits another car or pedestrian from flying off the car, you could end up paying a fine.
Uniquecoaches03
Intermediate Driver

A warm blanket,some dried foods or mre's and some water kept in the trunk is a good thing as well. Yes the bottled water may freeze but it will thaw once its in the passenger compartment of the vehicle if you happen to get stranded in the winter.
MAXTHEAX
Intermediate Driver

All tire comments aside, take the case of beer out of the trunk before it freezes. Whiskey has an alcohol content that is much higher so it's fine.
PCL
Pit Crew

Re: Winter tires and wheel swap...
I live in the Portland OR area, where snow is relatively rare, but subject to occasional freezing rain and icing, and I have to deal with both hilly areas and a rather steep driveway. I have an older AWD Subaru Outback, and purchased a set of steel takeoff rims on which I mounted a set of winter Michelins. These are very useful in dealing with wet roads (We get a lot of that) and any ice that may form. My standard all-season tires cannot cope with that.
It like to swap off my factory alloys in the fall and mount the winter wheels and tires. The factory alloys are equipped with a TPM system and the dashboard recognizes those. However, the steel takeoffs did not have them, and the dash warning light stays on - I cover it with a bit of electrical tape.
I have been told that dealers and tire shops are no longer allowed by Federal law to install any wheels without these special TPM valves that "talk" to the car? They are rather costly and need to be replaced periodically. Nearly every car is now fitted with this kind of system. What does anyone know about this rule?
Bunka
Intermediate Driver

Rather costly is a bit of an understatement. Several of the batteries went dead in my TPM system shortly after I bought my car. The quoted price to replace them was $ 1,500.00. That did not include tires. The tires were hardly worn. I lived with the dead batteries and the dash warning light until I had to replace the tires.
PCL
Pit Crew

Bunka - Your tires are not the issue here unless they have aged out, worn or not. When you replace the tires, that's the time to address the TPM valves, so tape over the little warning light and carefully monitor your tire pressures with an accurate hand or in-line gauge.
I have seen some on-line references that suggest that since the TPM system is a Federally mandated safety requirement, like seat belts and airbags, the manufacturer bears the responsibility of making sure it works properly over the long term. Does that mean the manufacturer should bear the cost of either new TPM sensors or their batteries should they fail (never knew they had integral batteries until I ran into this issue, and I'll wager your owners' manual never mentions that fact) or it falls on the owner's shoulders? That might all be wishful thinking, and in the end it's on us. That being said, the price you mentioned (by a dealer?) seems excessive, even with installation - which should be easily done at new-tire and valve stem replacement time. Changing out valve stems is a normal part of a new tire sale, and is usually included in the tire price. Shop around, including independent tire shops. However, I am also told that some aftermarket sensors do not "talk" to the car's monitoring system, and that would leave you in the lurch. They need to be guaranteed to function correctly. For now, I will ignore the system. Perhaps next fall I will address it if we face the threat of a harsh winter up here. Good luck!
Casey
Intermediate Driver

Thanks for these tips, Kyle.
Don't let the curmudgeons get you down!
hyperv6
Engineer

Here is the reality of winter driving. Some folks grow up driving in snow and you learn to adapt well. Also in traditional snow areas the road conditions are often better than winter road conditions in Dallas as we have the equipment to deal with it.

I live in Akron Ohio and here you either work for a tire company, have family that work for the tire company, have friends that work for the tire companies, or all the above.

I have all the above including tire engineers and few if any use winter tires here in the snow belt of Lake Erie where it can dump 10” over night.

Most good all seasons today are so very advanced that they have 3 types of compounds now on the tread face. They work more than adequate for good safe driving. Race slicks are better on dry roads too but you don’t bolt them on for a sunny day either.

Then some feel you have to have AWD or FWD. No RWD gets around just fine with just learning some basic driving skills on steering into a turn. Limited slip riffs are also helpful.

Don’t assume FWD is perfect as if you spin the tires you lose your steering. Also don’t live on stability control or anti locks as they can fail you at times as they can only help so much.

The greatest dangers in snow driving are #1 people with worn out tires. Many people just need tread and just don’t have it.

#2 learn how your car reacts to different conditions. Go in a parking lot and do donuts or slides to get a feel for the vehicle.

#3 Don’t get a death grip and fear snow. Some actually can be overly cautious and become a road. Lock when conditions are not that bad.

I have always viewed snow driving as a yearly test of my skills and I like the challenge.

Now Ice is a different beast. If you get lots of ice or freezing temps below what salt will take care of winter tires can help.

Finally put the dang cell phone down and just pay attention.

I drove for most of my life on two wheel drive vehicles with RWD on all season tires. I never had issues. I often even travel back roads to avoid traffic created by people with worn out tires and no driving skills.

Now if you are Simeon that needs winter tires that is fine. But every driver is not alike. Skill sets vary, where you live or grew up vary how they deal with roads where you live vary.

I had a co worker that moved to Dallas and they had a winter blast but the roads were much what we see al, the time in Ohio. He got pulled over going yo work and they thought he was crazy for being out. Once the learned he was from Ohio they sent him on his way.
RG440
Advanced Driver

100% agree with this article and yours!, also LIKED Geok86 Tip#6 Just move south…..best thing I’ve ever done reply! I have always had the rule of thumb thought process that; “If you can not safely drive at forty miles per hour on whatever surface, you do not belong out there!” Given the speed limit of course. It’s the forty and below, that whatever the excuses are, (mostly bald tires or I need eggs) make winter driving hazardous for everyone involved. Thanks for the article…