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Stalled... But Safe

Winter Driving Techniques

When your car is tuned up and prepared for winter travel, knowing a few driving techniques can help keep you out of many stalled situations.

Winter driving always requires allowing extra time and SMOOTH AND GENTLE DRIVING. Your driving habits must change with the seasons if you are to stay out of trouble. Turns cannot be taken as fast as in the summer. Starts must be slower and stops must be planned much more in advance. Even tire chains on ice take as much as four times the distance as regular tires on dry pavement!

When the car does go into a skid, you should turn the steering wheel to steer in the direction of the skid and remove all pressure from the gas pedal. As the car starts to straighten out, steer accordingly so that it continues straight and in control. Apply pressure to the gas pedal only when you have obtained directional control of the vehicle. If you need to stop in order to regain your composure and calm down, then do so as soon as it is safe to stop.

Stopping on ice and snow is different than on dry pavement, just use a firm pressure on the pedal without pressing too hard. Do NOT pump the brake pedal of a vehicle equipped with ABS (Automatic Braking System) brakes. The ABS brake system will automatically pump the brakes for you, faster than you can and stop the vehicle safely. Most vehicles equipped with ABS brakes can be identified by the ABS logo, showing up someplace on the instrument panel when the engine is started.

If the front wheels of a vehicle are braked hard enough to stop turning, they will not guide the vehicle; it will just slide straight ahead regardless of what you do with the steering wheel. You do not have steering control when the front wheels are sliding.

For cars without ABS, pumping the brakes is the most effective way to stop the car and maintain control. The brake pedal should be pumped rapidly enough that the wheels do not stop and remain locked up. You must plan your stops ahead of time, and always be prepared to stop, since stopping the car by pumping the brakes does require more time.

If you should become stuck in snow, you can often rock the car out without damaging the transmission if you do it correctly. Otherwise, delays can be longer and repairs can be expensive, in addition to the towing charge.

Use the forward and reverse gears to move the car back and forth in its stuck position. Stop the car at the end of each forward or reverse run so that the driving wheels are stopped before shifting to the opposite direction. Do not shift the transmission into the opposite gear if the driving wheels are still rotating; use the brake gently to stop them. Easy does it! Do not attempt to use speed to get out; it is hard on the drive system of the car and can be more dangerous. Slow and easy is the best advice. If the car is hung up on accumulations of snow, the snow under the car must be removed before the vehicle is going to move, and some shovel work will need to be done.

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