How to drive your car safely in snow and ice this winter

In a manual transmission car, set off slowly by slipping the clutch as gently as possible, keeping the engine revs low, and making sure to shift gears early on acceleration and late on deceleration to keep revs to a minimum. Lower RPMs mean the engine revs slower, reducing the risk of wheel spin.

If you drive an automatic or four-wheel drive car, check if it has a low-gear mode. This can be indicated by a snowflake icon or an “L” on a switch near the shifter. If it has one of these, you should use it. You should avoid using the “Sport” mode in an automatic car so equipped. Some automatic cars have a shift setting optimized for ice and snow, usually denoted by a snowflake icon. Choose this on ice and packed snow.

At the same time, avoid using special settings for low-traction environments when driving on gritted or cleared asphalt. Certain mechanisms in the car could be unduly stressed when used in high traction situations.

You should also try to avoid sudden maneuvers that could throw the car off balance, such as sharp steering or braking. This increases the likelihood that your car will skid.

How to deal with skids

It’s a good idea to gently test your brakes and steering every now and then to get an idea of ​​how slippery the road is. Of course, you should choose a straight, clear stretch of road away from intersections and make sure no one follows you when you do so.

It is also advisable to turn down the volume on your radio when driving on snow. Your ears can often give you the first warning that you’ve stumbled onto a slippery spot. Driving through snow fields causes more tire noise than usual as it crunches and snow whirls into the wheel wells. If the tire noise suddenly decreases, it may mean that you are driving on an ice surface.

If you find yourself on a slippery road and feel like the car is about to skid, take your foot off the accelerator and let the speed slow down on its own until you regain control. Avoid using the brakes as this will prolong the slide. If the car starts to skid while skidding, steer in the direction of the skid and allow the car to right itself. How to drive your car safely in snow and ice this winter

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