Driving In Snow In The South
Don’t let our particularly warm weather fool you! It’s still winter and it’s usually around this time of year that we receive our brief annual snow dusting along the Grand Strand. In a perfect (North) world, all roads are usually prepped, cleared and well maintained. But down here in the real (South) world, we don’t have the same wintery resources making the likeliness of automotive disaster increase exponentially. In case the snow does make an appearance in 2019, we’ve assembled a few crucial points to remember while braving snow-covered roads.
Limit Your Speed
Excessive speed is the single biggest reason people lose control in the snow, and slowing down will give you enough wiggle room to correct your course in case your vehicle loses control. It takes about 4-10x longer to stop in snow and ice than in regular conditions so it’s important to compensate for that delay, but at the same time going too slow can be just as problematic as going too fast so using your 4-ways in that case becomes critical too.
Take Turns Easy
Dynamically speaking, a car can only do three things: accelerate, turn and brake. While it’s possible to combine those commands from behind the wheel, vehicles are far easier to control when those actions are performed separately. Let’s say you’re approaching a sharp bend on a snowy road: first, gently apply the brakes in advance of the turn. After taking your foot off the brake, coast through the corner while turning the wheel. Only after you’ve exited the turn and straightened the steering wheel, gently accelerate.
Know What To Do If Your Car Slides
If your car starts to slide, don’t panic! A proper response will ensure that car control is regained. If the vehicle oversteers (back end swings out), accelerate lightly in order to transfer weight to the rear and increase traction. Oppositely, if the car understeers (slides forward without turning), straightening the steering and gently touching the brakes will shift more weight over the front wheels and enable the tires to “bite” again. As with all winter driving maneuvers, using a gentle hand and not stabbing the gas, brake or steering wheel is the most effective way to recover from a slide.
Know Your Limits and Your Car’s Limits
Becoming familiar with your car’s handling dynamics will prepare you for the unexpected. When the going gets slippery, does your car understeer (plow forward), oversteer (fishtail) or drift sideways? Weight distribution, suspension and drivetrain setups (like front, rear or all-wheel drive) all affect how your car reacts to adverse conditions so being familiar with each feature will help boost your trust and confidence on the road – in all weather conditions!
As we always stress, a reliably running car can help avoid a world of complications in inclement weather. Make sure your tire pressure doesn’t dip as our winter temperatures fluctuate, and your vehicle will be easier to control as a result. Install new wiper blades in order to maximize visibility, and test your battery to make sure it can handle the challenges of cold weather. Take care of your car, and it will take care of you.