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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/
75 REPLIES 75
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
Instructor

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
Intermediate Driver

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

Yes but I think even your car or truck has 4wheel brakes and that's somewhat more important than 2 drive wheels , if that's all you have.
The new soft compound winter tires make a big difference . But you'd have to try them to find that out. Don't take my word for it.
Tsaxman
Advanced Driver

Tires have to match for optimal handling.

Michigan guy here. We old dudes learned to drive rear-wheel-drive vehicles with big V-8 powerplants in the front, with bias-ply tires. Nothing scares us after a few dozen practice donuts after hours in the Kmart parking lot.
DaveA
Instructor

Braking and cornering in slippery conditions are dramatically better with 4 proper snow tires.
BMD4800
Gearhead

Yeah, cuz this guy says so.
bblhed
Instructor

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?
BMD4800
Gearhead

Well said.
DaveA
Instructor

That’s fine that you see less and less of a need for snow tires, but the reality is that most drivers need every advantage they can get.
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.
BMD4800
Gearhead

Kyle,

Your unwillingness to participate in 100% group think has been noted.

Please don’t try to rationalize your departure from group think with an intellectually sound version of self-responsibility. Clearly, you’re a monster.
elldorado2000
Advanced Driver

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
Detailer

Keep saying your prayers, here in MI. it is 14 degrees and single digits at night.
DaveA
Instructor

True! And the glaciers are melting, which means more water for everyone, right? 🙂
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.
mpzz
Advanced Driver

We also stopped putting snow tires on the rear of those old cars when radials came out and had so much better traction than the old bias ply tires that we didn't need snow tires!
Tinkerah
Engineer

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
Pit Crew

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...?
BMD4800
Gearhead

Lighten-up Francis.

Ever pull an over confident Subie driver out of a ditch? I have.

OMG, your tires! It is rear wheel drive! You don’t have symmetrical all wheel drive or traction control, ABS, or tire chains!

Good thing we didn’t have snow and bad weather before modern “winter” tires.
Jenda
New Driver

No reason to get overly dramatic about it but I agree, even when there isn't much snow, if the average temperature doesn't climb above 45°F, you're much safer driving on winter tyres.
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
Engineer

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.
TransAm-forever
Intermediate Driver

You got that right. Even if you're in the middle of a city "like Toronto a week ago" and get caught in a blizzard and white-out conditions you can exhaust your fuel supply sitting in non-moving traffic quicker than you think. Also, keep your fuel tank as full as possible in the winter.
OldFordMan
Advanced Driver

7. DON'T DRIVE DRUNK!
denali94
Intermediate Driver

Years ago in the Sovereign State of Alaska it was legal to drive with an open container. When those darned goody-two-shoe types tried to curb this 'god-given right' a TV commercial popped up - a guy who was obviously impaired looked straight at the camera and made the statement; "I drive around drunk and am against changing the law." It was supposed to be sarcasm but quickly became a running joke. Oh, the law was changed.
BMD4800
Gearhead

Even with winter tires? Cuz I hear they fix everything.
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.
mpzz
Advanced Driver

Just rims? You don't get the entire wheel? How is that an easy swap? Don't you have to have someone weld the hub to the rim?
AG1962
Instructor

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.

BMD4800
Gearhead

LT rated?

Revisit his van.
BMD4800
Gearhead

I run a severe snow rated AT LT truck tire all year and it makes a difference. Winter tires for 3/4 ton trucks are a waste. For your SUV or F150 ego boost maybe, but heavy stuff not so much.
autowriter
Detailer

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.
mpzz
Advanced Driver

The thing is, you naturally steer into the skid. Trying to make it sound complicated just complicates it. Just tell people not to overdo it, and to anticipate the rear swinging around too far the other way. Slow and easy wins the race and corrects the skid.
CarlJensen
Intermediate Driver

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
Intermediate Driver

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
Instructor

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

mpzz
Advanced Driver

Me, too! But then I had a manual tranny pickup for nearly 30 years that I just had to push the clutch pedal down- until the brine they put on the road nowadays rusted it into red powder.
BMD4800
Gearhead

I learned to use throttle to correct understeer and steering to correct oversteer.
Tim
Technician

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
Intermediate Driver

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.