Well it looks like the first big snow of the year has come to town. After a couple trips out into it, I realized that a lot of people could use some tips for better control on the road. There are a few key things that can make all the difference between staying on the road or spinning off.
First, avoid applying brakes in a turn or curve. You should be slowing your vehicle well before you enter any turns. The momentum of the vehicle should stay constant to help maintain directional control. Applying the brakes gives opportunity for traction to break which can send you sliding sideways or in circles.
Use your tires! One of the biggest mistakes I see is that a person will apply brakes, start sliding, and keep pressing the brake pedal. HUGE mistake! When the slide begins, let off the brake and you'll find that the vehicle will redirect. Even though your car has ABS, small pumps with a second or two interval will help you maintain more control. Tires can continue to direct the vehicle if they can turn. When they stop turning, they become sleds on ice and snow.
Use the accelerator! I know it sounds funny, but trust me, it works! If your sliding a direction you don't want to go, apply a LITTLE accelerator pedal and you will have a lot more control. I don't know about you but if I'm going off the road, I would rather do it on my own terms! I saw a car nearly go into the river at Martins Landing on Jackson this morning. They wouldn't have slid nearly as far if they had done this. It was a vehicle with front wheel drive. Front wheel drive vehicles can drive out of nearly anything if used properly. Don't believe me? Find an empty section of a large parking lot and try it.
A parking lot spin can make a big difference in refreshing your memory before an accident. Usually with the first snow, I'll find a safe place to drive stupid and see what happens. Accelerate hard, brake hard, turn the steering wheel and gas it. Doing these things in a safe, open place will remind you of how your car handles.
Above all, remember to go slow and leave yourself plenty of room between you and the next guy. Start braking long before you need to so you'll know if ice is under the snow.
Erik and Jennifer are the owner/operators of Mobile Service Pros. We enjoy working with our customers and community.