Driving in hazardous conditions can be quite a frightening experience, and more so if you’re not sure what you’re doing. However, with that said, driving in the snow is on a different level altogether. The same goes for driving an automatic in the snow.
Of course, it varies based on which area you’re living in, and how well-prepared and equipped you are for snow driving. Certainly, if you’re driving on normal summer tyres you’re going to have quite the thrilling ordeal ahead of you, driving in a constantly 0-grip condition.
Even if you have winter tyres, winter chains and socks, there are still precautions you should take for prudence. Automatic vehicles, in particular, can be tricky to command and coax in a traction-challenged situation, so here are some tips for automatic drivers should winter come.
Use Snow Mode (If Your Car Has It To Manage The Automatic Gears)
It needn’t necessarily be explicitly stated snow mode, but it’s likely that if your car is new it’ll have snow mode on standby. Activating it can ease your nerves while driving on snow mode.
What the button basically does, in a gist, is put your car into an overprotective mode, and the purpose is to keep you tracking straight and true. It puts all the electronic safety controls into overdrive, and its purpose is to level out and limit all driver inputs to reduce skidding tendencies.
There can be a whole lot of traction-preserving strategies employed by the manufacturer, so it all depends. It can be simple, intensified ESP and traction control operation, to an alternative map with altered shifting behaviour and constant all-wheel drive.
However, it’d be wise to utilise it if you have it while driving in the snow just to make your life a whole lot easier. After all, a computer’s brain can react quickly to sudden surface variance.
Manually Select (Automatic) Gears For Engine Braking In The Snow
Another great feature that most modern automatics touts is manual shifting. While it can be slow, lethargic and sluggish in the dry, it can be quite the lifesaver in the snow.
What you can do is, in lieu of using the brakes, downshift to engine brake. It’ll prevent you from overworking your foot brake, but it’ll also be more efficient at limiting vehicle speed in the cold since foot brakes can be ineffective when it’s cold out.
Drive Cautiously And Don’t Accelerate To Hard
Straightforward and sensible. Pay extra attention to the road, as winter conditions can introduce with it unpredictable road conditions. It’s not just about what you can see and avoid, it’s also about other drivers on the road.
If you don’t have to, keep acceleration to a minimum. You’re not getting anywhere in a hurry in the snow, so it’s better to ease off the pedal and focus on keeping everything under control. It’s easier to amend a mess up at low speeds than it is at high speeds.
Be Aware If You Are In A Front, Rear, Or 4 Wheel Drive Car
Undoubtedly, you should know what kind of drivetrain your car features, and where the driven wheels are in your vehicle. Obviously, both front and rear wheel driven vehicles will struggle more than a proper 4-wheel drive car, but even a 4-wheel drive car can skid and lose grip.
The keyword here is to keep the pace steady, amenable and safe. Whether you’re driving a 2-wheel drive or a 4-wheel drive, winter conditions can be difficult. However, it’s worth noting that FWD vehicles will lose steering control should you skid, and RWD vehicles will drag the tail out when you start spinning. If you spin an all-wheel drive, the car will ‘crabwalk’ in a sense.
Snow Driving Tips
Fortunately, if you need more details from someone who knows what he is talking about, Jason from Engineering Explained has a video regarding snow driving. Even if you’re on the equator, give this video a look because it does provide quite a fascinating insight.
What To Do If It Goes Wrong
If it still goes wrong even if you abide by these tips, don’t fret. Aviva Breakdown Cover can still get you to where you need to be even in the snow. If the situation necessitates, Aviva can also provide a replacement courtesy vehicle with options to get you back on the road as soon as possible.
Given that you need car insurance that covers you even in arduous weather, Aviva is worth a look.
Disclaimer: Sponsored post
FAQs On Driving An Automatic In The Snow
If you still have some lingering questions on how driving an automatic in the snow works, our FAQs here might help…
What Gear To Drive In Snow Automatic
Owing to there being minimal grip when driving an automatic in the snow, you want to make sure that your wheels don’t spin up. Therefore, you should ensure that you select as high of gear as possible. If you have an off-roader or SUV, you may also consider using low range gearing to help manage traction.
Should I Drive In L In Snow
It’s a good idea to drive in higher gears when you’re in snowy conditions. If you have an SUV, off-roader, truck, or similar vehicles, you might find them being fitted with low-range gearing. These are reduction gear ratios, allowing your wheels to turn more slowly, permitting you better grip in slippery terrain like snow.
How To Drive An Automatic
Once your car is up and running, driving an automatic is pretty easy. There’s no clutch that you have to modulate, or would you need to match your engine revs. First, you need to release the gear lever, as most automatic shifters have a button that allows you to shift with them. Then, select the gear you want, with the release button pressed. P is for Park, N is for Neutral, R is for Reverse, and D is for Drive. The latter is the gear you’d pick if you want to move forward. Once you’ve moved the shifter into the gear you want, depress the release button. When you’re on the move in D, for example, you can leave the transmission be to shift on its own.