Snow and ice

Can anyone tell me the best way to drive on snow and ice? Thank you. abxxx

The best way is to avoid driving in bad weather if you can help it.

As other posters here have explained to me, if you need to drive on snow and ice, it’s wise to invest in four quality winter tires. Don’t let them give you a false sense of security, though. Drive slowly, maintain a large following distance from the vehicle in front of you, and press the brake and gas pedal very gently. No quick movements or direction changes.

It also is going to depend on the kind of car you drive. If you have front wheel drive or all wheel drive, get some good tires and you should be fine in most cases, as long as you drive conservatively. If you have a rear wheel drive vehicle with little to no weight over the drive wheels, you should consider adding some extra weight over the rear end (sandbags worked well in my truck).

A well prepared car and practice in a deserted parking lot to get a feel for how your car reacts. Include hills in your practice sessions. There is nothing like experience, a light foot and slowing down.

The first thing is to clear ALL snow from the windows and all of the lights on the car.

The best way to drive is to imagine that there is a raw egg between your foot and the brake and gas pedals. The object is to NOT break the egg. That means very slow and gentle applications of both the gas and the brake.

You should drive slowly, and leave VERY large distances between your car and the car in front of you.

If you have ABS, DO NOT pump the brake pedal. Even if the pedal is vibrating fiercely underneath your foot, maintain a steady application of the brake pedal so that the ABS can do its job.

In order to have a greatly increased margin of safety, get a set of 4 winter tires mounted on the car. In addition to helping you to get going, winter tires will also help to keep the car on track when making a turn, and most important of all–winter tires will allow you to stop the car in a shorter distance. However, no tire can allow you to defy the laws of physics, so you still need to drive slowly and cautiously.

If your car is an automatic use second gear “2”. When starting in drive the transmission starts off in first gear that allows for the lowest gearing and the most torque. Starting off is second gear will allow for a smother transition of power to the wheels. It also lets the engine use compression braking. When you let off the gas the engine will slow you down unlike when in drive reaching third gear. In third gear an overrunning clutch provides a coasting feature that increases gas mileage. Oh and when in doubt, gas it. It sounds scary but too much braking causes sliding, and loss of directional control.

Great advice. The only thing I’d add is that 2 on the selector for many makes "Second (2 or S)
This mode limits the transmission to the first two gear ratios, or locks the transmission in second gear on Ford, Kia, and Honda models.
So for some cars, car will still start off in first gear. If would be worth it to practice, read the manual and then follow this advice.

Snow - practice, have winter tires, leave lots of room, no abrupt movements.
Ice - avoid if at all possible, take a different route or stay home. Lots of ‘funny’ videos with cars sliding out of control on ice-covered hills. Winter tires a must, but still may not be enough.

And don’t drive in the fast lane unless you actually are going to drive fast.
Stick to the right, and let the nut cases fly by you in the left lane.

Why people can’t seem to remember the rules of the road when water falls from the sky in one of its many forms, I’ll never understand.


Don’t Follow Closely And Don’t Go Too Fast. Make No Sudden Movements And Learn To Relax.

Allow five times the normal distance between your vehicle and the one in front. The posted speed limit is allowed “when conditions permit”. It is not only prudent to travel at below posted speed in adverse conditions, buts it’s the law.

Sometimes limited access highways or heavy traffic don’t allow you to to use these precautions, but I sometimes avoid both these situations if possible by adjusting my route or time of travel. Limited access roads are generally much safer (cars go in one direction), but because of ice and / or reduced visibility, speeding careless drivers, etcetera, I sometimes leave them in favor of much slower travel on surface streets.

Resign yourself to the fact that you have to allow a lot of time (leave early) or that you will be running later than usual so that you can relax and not rush. Us gradual control inputs for gas, brakes, and steering, accelerating slowly, doing more coasting, and anticipate, lightly braking sooner than usual. Try and put yourself in a position so that you won’t need any sudden panic movements. Focus on driving, have no distractions, and don’t take your eyes off the road, even for one second.

Maintain an even strain. Relax, listen to calming music, and get there when you get there.


To that list, you can add Subaru as one of the makes that allows you to get going in second gear.

Sometimes the passing lane gets plowed before the slow lane, and in order to drive in the slow lane, you have to drive on a sheet of ice. When that happens, it is okay to let the idiots pass you on the right.

[i]World War II Hero Cursed Out For Driving Speed Limit[/i]

Expect the unexpected. Sooner or later it will happen. :slight_smile:

In addition to already mentioned:

  1. When braking to a stop, put it in neutral below ~10MPH (or at whatever point idle throttle starts pushing you forward vs. providing engine braking). The reason being, when in gear, you have to bring the car to a stop, PLUS overcome the drive wheels trying to push you forward: this can be an important difference in slick conditions.

  2. Go very, very slowly downhill. On snow and ice, you can get going fast enough that you simply cannot stop the car! (Related: consider routes, choosing one where you can descend on a straight road over one where you must negotiate turns while descending: try to handle the windy bits, if necessary, on flat or uphills.)

  3. If capable of being done safely, carry some momentum on uphills. This might earn some ire, but the plain fact is there will be hills you simply cannot climb by starting from a standstill at the bottom. Realize that your situation is not as precarious as when going downhill, as simply letting off the gas will reliably bring you to a (considering conditions) prompt stop. You’ll be glad you did this…as will the cars behind you, that also would have gotten stuck, but for your foresight.

Yup, meanjoe’s item #3 is very important to remember.

At my former job, there was a hill on a road very close to my place of employment.
Even though it was not a particularly steep hill, you could always count on a woman to get stuck on that hill in her Monte Carlo or Camaro, and the cause was always the same.

She would develop a case of “the timids” at the bottom of the hill and for some totally illogical reason would decide to slam on the brakes before ascending the hill. The result was predictable–within a few hundred feet, she would be stuck and all traffic would come to a halt. Even though I sometimes thought it was the same dumb woman, it really was a different one each time who severely impeded traffic.

New folks in our area all seem to arrive with the “timids” in the winter when they first move into our side of the mountain. One or two sessions of trying to back down a 1/2 mile hill on ice and/or pulling them out of the ditch later cures them of that, quickly.

I’d like to know what kind of car OP has. Does it have traction control ? Though TC is really a game changer starting off, these tips should still be practice. It doesn’t create any more traction, just manages it better. There’s no free lunch and the system is very hard on the brake pads. For safety and economy sake, let traction control work with you, not for you.