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Thread: Handling Winter

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    The Gorge Area, Oregon
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    Handling Winter

    We just got home an hour or so ago right in front of some more freezing rain, feeling pretty good about ourselves we parked the car and started moving stuff into the house. About 4 minutes later the car starts heading down the hill towards the neighbors rig and the BIG hill, which would have ended poorly except it stopped on a small bump before it could get to far (about 15'). A post-mortem of the situation revealed that the tires, hot from having covered some 600+ miles straight, had melted the thin layer of snow on the driveway which refroze into ice under them which let the rig break free. Once it got going gravity and newtons first law kicked in until it was luckily stopped by the bump. A quick shoveling followed by some sand and ice melt got the parking area of the driveway into good shape (you know you live in the frozen north when you always have sand and ice melt in stock ).

    This got me thinking about some of the stuff I saw in areas where folks don't get to much snow/ice and how they (sometimes) failed to deal with it very well and thought I might make a short list of things I saw along the way (not that places where people should know better always deal with this stuff as maybe they ought to either). Please feel free to add your own or correct misstatements in mine
    • Shovel the snow before putting down ice melt. Otherwise you're just making water which will freeze into more ice which takes longer to thaw and is worse!
    • Shovel the snow before driving or walking on it. Once its packed down its a whole lot more annoying/work to deal with (and if it re-freezes to ice can be impossible to clear). Ice also takes 4-5 time longer to melt than snow and if you can expose the road/driveway sooner rather than later any sun will knock the rest off much quicker (even at below freezing temperatures blacktop heats up pretty fast).
    • If you can, wait until the sun has hit the road for an hour or so, it will soften up the ice/snow and make it less "glassy" so it won't be quite as slick.
    • Clear that layer of ice/snow off of the top of your car. Otherwise it will come off at the worst moment, either when you stop (obscuring your vision, possibly wreaking your wipers if lots of ice) or on the road when it can fly off into someone elses windshield. I saw several cars stopped at parking lot exits while the owner shoveled off the windshield from everything sliding forwards on this trip, lucky for them all I saw happened where it was easy to get out and clear it off...
    • Watch for the "truck droppings" (big chucks of ice/snow off of the bottom of cars/trucks), those are basically solid blocks of ice and can really wreck the underside of your rig
    • Be nice (and smart) and kick the truck droppings off of your truck/car when you stop every so often so you don't leave them for others.. or have them fall off and run over them yourself.
    • Stay back please! Tailgating is always a bad idea, but the folks who do it on ice are really get my goat. You ain't going to be able to stop if you need to and I don't need you running into me!
    • Don't gun it! Stomping on the gas ain't going to get you anywhere (except maybe the ditch) and is almost as bad as slamming on the brakes (maybe worse nowadays with all the magic braking systems). I can't count how many folks don't seem to get this one, easy on, easy off and you'll get there. If you can't go forward gunning it likely won't help, maybe backup a smidge then try easing forward.
    • Sharpen your ice scraper. 5 minutes with a file makes that ice peal off so much easier (doesn't have to be complicated, just get rid of the divots and don't make to thin of an edge). I sharpened ours before the trip and its well due for another round now (chipping ice out of the wheel wells didn't help - the Santa Fe holds the road well, but really seems to be bad for accumulating ice .. everywhere!).
    • Do NOT use cruise control in slick conditions. A co-worker flipped his car 4 times at ~80mph (and luckily wasn't hurt) a couple years back largely because he used cruise control (and was going to fast and stomped the brakes.. but it all adds up ).
    • Do NOT pass snow plows or sanding trucks!! Especially on the right but generally at all!! They can catch a bump in the road and twist sideways faster than you can blink and many have blades that stick way out further than you'd expect (not to mention they're throwing snow/ice chunks/rocks/gravel off the right side). That was one of the more cringe worthy moments we had on this trip when a car passed us and then the plow in front of us on the right and the plow caught and swung at them (barely missing by maybe a foot or so).
    • Finally SLOW DOWN! I've been in lots of bad weather and watched plenty of folks with more ambition than me fly by and spin off into the ditch (a particularly memorable occasion was during an ice storm in Portland a few years ago when I saw at least 5 cars spin off the road or into the divider in a ~6 mile stretch of road while we breezed on through at 1/4 the speed - literally everyone that passed us ended up in the ditch). And yes I've certainly seen a lot of 4x4s (and around here Subarus which so many people somehow think are invincible its a local running joke) upside down in the ditch as well.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Amen Brother!, I drive over 7000 miles a month and it never ceases to amaze me how stupid people can drive.
    Jesus was a Woodworker

  3. #3
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    Aug 2007
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    Reno NV
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    Great advice!
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  4. #4
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    Oct 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Mooney View Post
    ...

    • Clear that layer of ice/snow off of the top of your car. Otherwise it will come off at the worst moment, either when you stop (obscuring your vision, possibly wreaking your wipers if lots of ice) or on the road when it can fly off into someone elses windshield. ...
    I learned this one firsthand. About a week after I bought a new 1984 Bronco II, my dad and I were coming back from a jobsite about 150 miles from home, and I let Dad drive to see what he thought of my new vehicle. Not long after we got onto the highway, a Dodge van passed us, and as he pulled back into our lane in front of us, a sheet of ice flew off the van's roof and shattered my windshield. Fortunately, the windshield held together and we were still able to see out of it (marginally), so we limped it on home before getting it replaced. My dad felt horrible about the whole thing because the vehicle was brand new and he was driving, but there really was nothing he could have done to avoid the sheet of ice.

    And I concur with all of your other tips, too. I would also add if your vehicle has anti-lock brakes and/or traction control and you've not got a good feel of them under slick conditions, find an empty parking lot after the first snow or ice storm and intentionally do some skidding, spinning and stopping. Anti-lock brakes are great, but it's a good idea to know how they feel in an intentional forward or sideways skid before you need them in a panic situation. The same goes for traction control, or if you're new to a particular drive system. Rear wheel drive reacts much differently than front wheel drive; same with 4x4 and AWD. (I've done wet, dry, and icy panic stop/skid practice with every vehicle I've ever owned. Time and tire rubber well spent, IMO.)
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Bedford, NH
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    Great thread! Some additional thoughts.

    1. Do not expect or think that 4WD will help when on ice. 4WD is great when in snow or getting out of a "stuck" situation, but when on ice 4 wheels slide just as easily as 2 wheels do.
    2. Use a lawn seed/fertilizer spreader to spread a sand/salt mix, or ice melt. on the driveway. Beats doing it by hand, or with a shovel. Even better, use a plastic spreader as they don't rust out from the salt as metal spreaders do. Do not fill the bucket as this becomes too heavy, use half loads, or less, for a better spread
    3. Be selective if using an ice melt as some can damage concrete steps/walkways, especially concrete less than one year old.
    4. Open up parallel strips of driveway blacktop to expose the black to the sun. These areas heat up faster & spreads the warmth to adjacent areas to hasten the melting from underneath.
    5. If using a parka with a hood when snow blowing the driveway, be careful when approaching the end of the driveway to look for snow plows coming as the hood can prevent "sideways" visibility, plus with the snow blower running you won't hear them either. Snow Plows & Snow Blowers, i.e. you, don't mix well (speaking from experience).
    6. If anticipating a heavy wet snow storm, with significant accumulation, it's easier on the back, and elsewhere, to go out midway during the storm if possible, or during a let-up, to clear the snow rather than waiting for the storm to end & having to handle the deeper, much heavier snow.
    7. Bring your cell phone with you when shoveling the driveway, especially at night. Should you have an accident, or need medical help having the cell phone could be a life saver.
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  6. #6
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    One more: Keep a blanket, boots, (extra) gloves, and perhaps some drinking water in the car. That way, if you get stuck in a traffic jam (for five hours, like we did a few years back) you'll still be able to keep warm while running the engine minimally. When that traffic jam finally broke up, there were several cars in it that were now out of gas. Keeping the tank near full - and maybe never letting it get much below half - is always a good idea, too.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  7. #7
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    May 2007
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    Good advice Ryan.

    This morning we had a light rain and were right on the line between freezing and melting. There were 10 wrecks in the first mile on the highway (all on the opposite side where traffic had been moving faster) and at least 50 cars in the ditch on each side, cleared up after that mile.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  8. #8
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    When turning a corner in snow, slow down before the turn and go around the corner with your foot off the brakes. Turned wheels that are not rotating will slide forward and take you into the ditch or the sidewalk. You want your front wheels rotating to make the turn.

    It's helpful to have a big, strong son who owns a snowblower.
    Cheers,
    Roger


    The other member of Mensa, but not the NRA

    Everyone is a self-made person.

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  9. #9
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    When I went to set out the garbage at -12ºC last night, and buttoned up my parka to the chin and put on my wool hat and warm gloves, I thought to myself, "Self, there are people living in places all over the world who never have to get dressed like this just to go outside for ten minutes."
    Cheers,
    Roger


    The other member of Mensa, but not the NRA

    Everyone is a self-made person.

    "The thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their veracity" -Abraham Lincoln

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Tulk View Post
    When turning a corner in snow, slow down before the turn and go around the corner with your foot off the brakes. Turned wheels that are not rotating will slide forward and take you into the ditch or the sidewalk. You want your front wheels rotating to make the turn...
    In my experience, if you're in a FWD or 4x4, it's also a good idea to accelerate (lightly) as you go around the corner. Otherwise, you can get an engine braking effect on the front wheels, causing them to lose traction as you turn the wheel. First time I made a 90º right turn at an intersection on slick roads in my first 4x4, I backed off the accelerator just like I had always done in my RWD vehicles, turned the wheel, and proceeded to skid straight through the intersection instead of turning. I ended up making the turn a block later, then circled the block several times getting the hang of powering through the turns.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

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