Driving in the Snow? (Tips for a Floridian)

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buzz
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Driving in the Snow? (Tips for a Floridian)

Postby buzz on Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:05 am

Here's one for you Northerners.. I'll soon be taking my first long road trip from Miami to Tennessee for Christmas with the family. Having lived in Miami my whole life, I've never had to deal with driving in icy/snowy conditions.

I drive a 2003 Toyota Highlander - the base model. It's a good car, it's lasted me a while but it's 2WD (FWD) and 4cyl. For what it's worth, I have some ECT Snow button (Electronically Controlled Transmission?)...

Will I survive? I got the car checked out today and new tires put in (I was due anyway) but was talking to my brother who also has a 2WD car and also got worried since the snow is coming down pretty hard up there. I hear chains for the tires is relatively cheap so i'll grab some of those as I get closer (you can't find anything with the name snow here in Miami) ..

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Re: Driving in the Snow? (Tips for a Floridian)

Postby zel on Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:38 am

you sure it's not an ETC button? Electronic Traction Control? usually denoted by a figure of a vehicle with wavey lines representing skid marks?

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Well tip number one is do not nail the gas trying to get traction if you need it, I've seen a lot of people do that and I have no idea why, all it does is make things worse. Take it easy on the brakes as well, you just have to think about the lack of friction, which is what gives you control in the first place. I've used chains before myself, but really that's only for extreme circumstances (blizzard), usually highways will be fairly clear and salted anyway so make a point to avoid back roads and stay on main interstates and such, you will find driving is relatively normal that way, often back roads may not be as well cleared or salted so conditions can be vastly worse.

As for the snow here in Tennessee, I dunno where you are going to, nut I am in Western Tennessee and we had sow for 1 day, it stayed on the ground throughout the next day, but was gone after that, haven't seen a flake since, but it is surprisingly colder here than I had expected. (I live in Jackson, pretty much midway between Nashville and Memphis, slightly closer to Memphis).

On a side note, completely unrelated, people here have said they consider me a northerner since I am from North Carolina......idiots....
I was further south..... it was warmer....how their logic works...I dunno...

Anyway, basically as long as it is just snow, it's not really bad until it gets really deep or something, it's ice that is the bigger problem and for that there really isn't a whole lot you can do other than take it real slow and be real gentle with anything you do.

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Driving in snow/ice is all about inertia. Most people think you can hit the brakes and steer. In snow if you hit the brakes (even with antilock, although it helps a bit) you simply continue in your current direction, and steering does nothing.

With front wheel drive (you have the weight of the engine over your front wheels which helps with traction) you can "aim" and drive out of most snowy situations, but as Ty says don't gun it.

Best advice is slow down, always look ahead for what is coming up, and where you can take your car if you need to. Don't panic. You'll end up in the ditch.

Sidenote: I always carry a toque (winter hat), a pair of gloves, an old long sleeve shirt, cell phone charger, candle, small box of granola bars, big bottle of water, and a pair of winter boots in my truck just in case I get stuck and need to walk somewhere.

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Re: Driving in the Snow? (Tips for a Floridian)

Postby buzz on Thu Dec 16, 2010 10:20 am

Thanks for the info guys. Between this and what I read elseware, I think i'll be alright. Seems like it's just a matter of keeping is slow, easy, and break early and soft. We're headed up to Gatlinburg this Saturday for the week. Hopefully once i'm there, there won't be much driving around to do.

@zel - Yep, its definately ECT.. You had me double checking :)

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Re: Driving in the Snow? (Tips for a Floridian)

Postby zel on Thu Dec 16, 2010 1:39 pm

hehe, ya, i read up about ECT on toyotas and apparently its basically like the overdrive button on most other vehicles. when you put it in power it will shift later and let you wind out the RPMs and in the snow setting t shifts sooner and tries to minimize chances of spinning your wheels.

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you dont need chains. you do need a shovel in the trunk (but if its just for christmas there really wont be enough snow yet to get stuck im 99% sure. So yeah, bring a shovel and keep the cell ready, dont follow the car in front too closely and just leave more time for everything. even if your breaks and tires grip, the guy behind you might not and you still end up being hit, so break gradually. dont oversteer or try and make 'snappy' lane changes etc, you can end up spinning out.

probably the most dangerous stuff is after a day of driving in the sun you get the hang of it and all the snow on the road has melted into slush and water, then as the sun goes down it starts freezing up but the road looks clear since its all melted. now your driving on ice. be aware if your in one of those transitions. (car have an external thermometer?)

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Re: Driving in the Snow? (Tips for a Floridian)

Postby buzz on Sun Dec 19, 2010 8:00 pm

I forgot to ask about steep climbs on my little 4cyl! Car struggled a bit going up the smokeys but when I took o/d off, it kept up like a [slow] champ. No snow/ice on the roads today .. If you don't hear from me in a week, i went over a cliff lol

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Despite the nerves of driving in the snow, I recommend you take a trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a bit. It's beautiful especially with some snow cover.

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Re: Driving in the Snow? (Tips for a Floridian)

Postby buzz on Sun Dec 26, 2010 10:28 am

So who was saying not to expect snow? lol we're snowed in and can't get out. It started snowing early morning yesterday and hasn't stopped. I don't know how scientific it is but the accumulation on the table outside is at least 7" ... We were supposed to leave today but the rental office called and said 'they don't foresee that happening.' This is beautiful though, i'll give you that. How are you doing up there, Ty?

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buzz wrote:So who was saying not to expect snow? lol we're snowed in and can't get out. It started snowing early morning yesterday and hasn't stopped. I don't know how scientific it is but the accumulation on the table outside is at least 7" ... We were supposed to leave today but the rental office called and said 'they don't foresee that happening.' This is beautiful though, i'll give you that. How are you doing up there, Ty?


Pics or it didn't happen...

buzz
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Re: Driving in the Snow? (Tips for a Floridian)

Postby buzz on Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:18 am

There's a couple tables and chairs there somewhere.. Then, this since this is a car forum, my car is somewhere under the white stuff
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buzz
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Re: Driving in the Snow? (Tips for a Floridian)

Postby buzz on Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:36 am

behind the cars and to the right is a steep hill, that doesn't get plowed, to the mountain road. My brother tried to go down yesterday and slid all the way. So far, we're on vacation +1 day, let's see if we can go to +2

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heh im sure thats pretty exciting if you've never seen it snow like that before. looks like the light fluffy stuff, no good for snow ball fights unfortunately :P

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