How to Drive in Snow with Front Wheel Drive
Winter driving can be stressful. Regardless of what type of car you have, extra precautions need to be taken to ensure safety on the roads. Sure, tires that are made specifically for the snow can help, but when learning how to drive in snow with front wheel drive, there are added measures that need to be taken in order to ensure safety.
Invest in snow tires
The first step to safely driving any type of vehicle in the snow is to purchase a pair of snow tires. Without snow tires, there’s only so much that other safety measure you take while driving can do for you. Snow tires will help you to feel safe and secure while on the road.
Don’t power up hills
Moving too fast, too quickly to make it up a hill can lead to problems and cause you to spin out, this is especially true for people driving front wheel drive cars and trucks. Instead, get a bit of speed going before attempting to go up a hill. Getting the inertia going a bit before you try to make it up the hill is more likely to be successful than just hitting the gas as the start of a hill.
Be careful of where you’re stopping
Front wheel drive vehicles are notoriously known for getting moving again once you slow down. To avoid getting stuck when driving a car or truck with front wheel drive you should never stop on places like hills. If you stop while you are going up a hill in the winter, you may end up getting stuck!
Front wheel drive vehicles have a hard time making it up hills, and by stopping on a hill you are not allowing yourself the time an space necessary to gain the inertia needed to make it up the rest of the hill.
It should go without saying, but slow down!
If you are learning how to drive in snow with front wheel drive, one of the first things that you are likely to encounter is reduced stability when it comes to your steering. If you make quick movements in your car, such as stopping or accelerating too quickly, you may loose control over your vehicle.
This is especially true when going around curves. Front Wheel Drive vehicles are particularly prone to a loss of steering control (over steering) in the winter time. This is often the leading cause of accidents where you see drivers that have veered into traffic, hit guard rails, etc.
If you do end up losing control
Do NOT take your foot off of the gas; this only helps to gain control when driving rear wheel drive vehicles! If you read an outdated manual while learning to drive, you may have thought that taking your foot off of the gas, breaking, and turning your wheel is what you should do, but this is not the case with front wheel drive vehicles. If you lose control of a front wheel drive vehicle taking your foot off of the gas and breaking while going around a curve too fast will likely cause your steering to lock up.
What you should do instead
- Keep your foot lightly on the gas
- Steer towards the curb
- With your foot still on the gas, lightly tap the brake
- Allow your vehicle to slowly regain traction
Having your foot half on the gas, and half on the break could be life saving in the winter time if you are driving a car with front wheel drive. Using this technique to get around sharp turns is the safer way to go and will help you to avoid having your steering get locked up.
You may be weary of following these steps at first, so it is important to make sure that you are giving yourself some time to practice.
Before attempting this technique out on a real road where there is a lot of traffic, the best way to get used to doing this is to try it out in a parking lot where there is ample room for you to experiment.
Getting to know how your car handles with this technique is key to staying safe. The more prepared you are the better equipped you will be when you actually have to use it.
Front wheel drive cars do have some advantages
If you learn to be comfortable with the proper handling techniques while learning how to drive in the snow with front wheel drive, these types of vehicles do have many advantages over rear wheel vehicles. This is especially true in the winter.
- The added weight of the engine over the wheels on FWD cars greatly increases traction. This is a huge bonus when it comes to driving in the winter. The heavy, wet snow that drivers often encounter during this time of the year can make it hard for even the best tires to maintain good grip on the road. This puts front wheel drive cars at a pretty huge advantage overall when it comes to maintaining traction in the winter.
- Front wheel drive cars and trucks operate with a pulling motion, rather than with a pushing motion. This gives front wheel drive cars an added edge when it comes to maintaining control in slippery conditions and makes front wheel drive cars less likely to fall victim to understeering when handled properly.
It doesn’t have to be scary
By following the steps above you are setting yourself up for a safe experience when learning how to maneuver a front wheel drive vehicle in the snow. Rest assured that the weight on your front driving tires actually puts you at an advantage to rear wheel vehicle drivers.
Practice makes perfect, and by taking note of these tips and experimenting with them ahead of time you will increase your chances of being able to effectively use them to safely get through the snow and slush on the roads this winter.