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Old 12-06-2010, 06:42 PM   #1
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Driving in snow w/5-sp?

Hi everyone. Recently bought a new 2010 SE Focus w/5sp. GREAT CAR! It's been awhile since I've driven a stick and have never done so in the snow. I was wondering if any anyone has any tips or advise on how best to drive in the snow w/a stick. I know snow tyres are the best but here in Virginia there isn't that much snow fall (Except last yr. was miserable!) Wasn't planning on changing out the OEM Hankook H725's not just yet. Thanks and I really enjoy my new Focus and this website. Bill.


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Old 12-06-2010, 06:50 PM   #2
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We've gotten hammered with snow and I'm still stuck with summer tires. Downshifting always seems to work best for me on snowy/icy roads. Your tires will slip in the snow and it slows you down but still keeps you straight. Now I have an SVT so I'm not sure how that will make your car handle in the snow/ice so take caution.

It's best to find a nice big open parking lot that hasn't been plowed yet to practice driving in the snow and to see how it handles and feels so you don't get any surprises when your life or someone elses is on the line.
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Old 12-06-2010, 06:50 PM   #3
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I too have a 5 speed 2010 Focus with the Hankooks. I live in Indiana and we have 5+ inches of snow right now. I'll tell ya with the traction control and ABS system on that car it has no problem whatsoever going through the snow. I love it.
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Old 12-06-2010, 06:57 PM   #4
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Honestly (and not being a wise-cuss):

Pretty much the same as you would with an automatic. Slowly and carefully. You might hear somebody tell you some (mostly) BS about shifting sooner (ie lower RPMs) to keep torque on the lower side but REALLY it all comes down to the tires. I'm in MN, and I have a 2nd wheelset with real winter tires (Hankook iPikes). WORLD of difference, compared to the All Season tires... not just getting going, but also STOPPING and slide-out prevention on the slick stuff.

BUT, since you indicate that you'll stick with the regular tires and hope for an easier winter, my first response stands. Take it easy. And if the weather forecast is bad, try not to travel if you can avoid it. Spin-outs and crashes are major downers.
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Old 12-06-2010, 07:39 PM   #5
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Since I've never lived out that way, I can't tell you if it's worth it to get a 2nd wheelset... but for other folks that can pretty much count on a true winter, I'd HIGHLY recommend investing in a 2nd set of wheels to put snow tires on. You should be able to get outfitted with 4 steelies and good winter tires for about $500 or so. I'd recommend General Altimax Artics or Hankook i-Pikes, from experience (iPikes are on mine and the Generals are on her car). They're both fantastic for the winterstuff and they're reasonably priced.

We just got a wheelset with the Generals shipped in from Tire Rack for her Civic and it ran $370 + $100 shipping. If you go with a LOCAL tire shop, they'll usually do the back and forth swap (before and after winter) for FREE. Discount Tire does, anyways. Otherwise, with a non-local order, you'll have to pay for that install/swap (~$25).

One last thing, do a -1 wheelsize for the winterset. That way you get the same model tire for less and it'll probably perform better (taller and skinner = better).
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:30 PM   #6
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A quick clutch tip is that if you are starting from a stop and your wheels start spinning, push the clutch in and use that to modulate the torque. Just be careful not to give it gas while holding it at half-clutch...it is rather hard on the clutch.

Other than that, and practice practice practice!
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:48 PM   #7
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Last winter I got stuck in a horrible snow storm. I was only 3 km away from home it took 3 hours to get home. The problem was that the snow was so slippery that cars started getting stuck everywhere. Even on a slight incline, no cars could make it up them. And the steeper inclines had cars sliding backwards.

It was a disaster. I had my snow tires on but even so, I could not get proper grip. At least not in 1st. I decided to try to get going in 2nd...and by modulating very carefully with the gas and clutch, I was able to make it up even the worst inclines.

But man, did my foot ever get tense and cramped after a while. I was driving through stuck and sliding cars like through an obstacle course. Quite surreal.

And I have traction control.
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Old 12-06-2010, 10:12 PM   #8
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I prefer driving a manual in snow actually. Feels like you have far more control over the car. If it's real slick starting in 2nd helps out. The other day we got some light snow and made everything real slick and I took my car instead of my Jeep because I think the car is more predictable and easy to handle if things get squirrely and I don't have my snow's on yet.
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Old 12-06-2010, 10:31 PM   #9
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Thanks for the advice. I pretty much take it easy all the time. It's good to know the ABS and Traction Control work well on the Focus. Winters aren't too bad here in the part of Va. where I live. (Except for last yr. Unreal amount of snowfall.) If it turns out bad once again, I'll defineately consider a set of steelies w/snow tires. What about the TPMS monitors? Would they have to be re-installed/programmed on the new set or could you just run w/o them? It's funny, when I drive this car it brings back memories of my Grandfathers 1968 Opel Kadett Rally. That was a nice car!
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Old 12-06-2010, 10:35 PM   #10
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You can run without them, but your TPMS light will be on.
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