Folks in certain region of North India should be well aware of the difficulties one faces while driving cars under heavy fog or snowfall. There is a basic discipline one needs to follow and be aware of the consequences if neglected.
I have had an opportunity to drive extensively in a snowy mountain region when I lived in the States; a small mountain town of Virginia called Lynchburg. Though we did not have the altitude challenges, the winding slippery road added enough. In my opinion, a 4*4 or snow chains are really not needed if the snow is not very deep. The right thing to do if the snow is too deep is to carry a set of snow-chains and wait for the local authorities to clear the snow.
It is important that one prepared the car for the snow very carefully. features like traction control and ABS, ABD etc are extremely useful. One needs to know how to use them too. Here are some tips to keep on top of your mind while driving in snow:
Snow means low traction
Slippery roads gives one a lots of fun to drift around in, but only on an open ground!; before you try and such stunts, please get a developed feel of how the car behaves on the roads on a regular day, as well as in snow. Traction on the wheels can be built by adding just right amount of throttle; not too aggressively and not too gentle. In case you experience the slipping of the road or it not reacting to the throttle you are applying, the best thing to do is to release it. Trying to accelerate and turning the wheels will not help you get the car back in a safe position.
Accelerating or braking aggressively
Try to be as gentle and gradual as possible. There is all possibilities that the car with ABS would come close to meeting with an accident as the brakes would be ineffective due to low traction. Braking slowly should be only Mantra on your mind. Same with accelerating to avoid your car going all over the road. BE ATTENTIVE. No Mobile Chatting or cracking funny ones inside the car to divert your attention
Curvy Roads and Speed
On an usual day, Curvy Road and Speed do not go along; let aside on a snowy day. Given the lack of traction the car has the wheels do not create enough friction to turn when needed and continue to slip straight instead of sticking to the curve. Thus leading the car to travel in a direction not intended to, HONK!!! on the curves
The Brake system on the car detoriates more than 80% if there is ice formed on the road. Brakes (esp. without ABS) are almost useless in these situations and it is therefore a good idea to keep more than safe distance from the cars ahead.
Manual Vs Automatic Transmission
Though the newer automatic cars have excellent computerized system to manage traction, ABS, ABD etc, driving a manual car would be useful in these areas, as you can then practice using engine braking. This is a concept wherein one lowers the gear to reduce the speed and not use the brakes. Engine braking should not be practiced on high speeds and if not completely aware of this phenomenon. it could tear down a gear box if not used correctly
Dirty Slushy Windscreen
More than usually you will face this challenge of removing snow and settled ice from your windscreen. If on the road for multiple days, this will be an annoying experience to have day after day. DO NOT use water on the windscreen to melt the ice away. Hot water is a strict no for sure. This could lead to the “cracking of windscreen phenomenon“. It basically means the Windshield will crack and break :). Use a scraper instead
Before a wonderful Snowy Drive
- Idle the car for a couple of minutes before and after the drive to warm up the engine. Do not rev it though.
- Pour warm water on the fuel pump in case the engine is not getting a continuous supply of fuel
- Cover the engine with comforters and blankets to generate heat, if required
- Do not accelerate briskly until the engine is warm
- Get a good car wash under the body could be a good idea. The roads will be sprayed with salt/sand to add traction, this if stuck under the body can cause damage to the car
Other than the regular car maintenance, following are few pointers one should cover for a drive in the snow
READ: How to prepare a car for a Himalaya Drive
- Usage of All weather or Winter tires .
- Snow Chains (in case you ever need them)
- Always carry a Anti-Freeze windshield washer (as well as top up your windshield washer with the same)
- Windshield scraper with a brush attached to remove the snow from the car
- Use high grade engine oil that can handle low temperatures
- Carry fuel anti-freeze
- First aid kit
Do not over exert yourself driving in difficult situation and get tired. No matter what age you are you want to save some energy to play and enjoy in the snow too.
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