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Old 01-05-2013, 11:27 AM   #1
spiderpig
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Snow driving weather

I just got my 2013 Ford Focus Titanium last month and have been loving it. Recently it's started snowing here in PA and I want to get some clarification about driving in the snow.

In my old 2004 Toyota Echo I had Drive, Second Gear, and Lower Gear. So when it snowing I would usually switch to lower to have the engine help me brake. But with my new car there is drive and sport. Would I need to put the car in Sport mode and just keep in lower gear myself, or would Sport mode give me more grip in snow?

Training my driving behaviors with the new car is a little challenging but lots of fun.


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Old 01-05-2013, 12:19 PM   #2
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In sport mode you can switch to a lower gear with the button on the shifter
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Old 01-05-2013, 12:32 PM   #3
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You should be careful using Sport (auto) mode while driving in the snow. I've found that if I shift down to S and touch the brakes, the car will down shift pretty aggressively to lower the speed. This could cause you to lose traction with your front wheels. Be sure to leave it in Drive, or use Sport (manual) and be smart about it.
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Old 01-05-2013, 02:18 PM   #4
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So the best method is to go into sport and manually keep it in first or second gear?
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Old 01-05-2013, 02:39 PM   #5
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No, the best method is to use your head and keep it in an appropriate gear. If you're not sure what an appropriate gear is, leave it in drive, it'll do just fine.
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:00 AM   #6
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So the best method is to go into sport and manually keep it in first or second gear?
I usually keep it in Drive unless I'm going up a hill. I try not to use the engine brakes or go into Sport mode while the car is in motion because as another poster said, when you do this sometimes the car will down shift aggressively which might cause your tires to spin and for you to lose control.

Change into Sport mode while you're at a stop light etc. and be light on the accelerator.
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Old 01-05-2013, 02:38 PM   #7
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I wouldn't keep it in a low gear all the time. Try to keep your RPMs as low as possible while doing anything in a low traction situation. Let me try to explain a little bit that will hopefully shine some light on suggested driving during poor conditions.

The coefficient of friction on snow is usually between 0.3 - 0.6. This is much lower than the coefficient of friction on dry asphalt, which is usually about 0.9. Every action you take in a FWD car 'uses' some available friction from your front tires on the surface you're driving on. That means that if you're turning WHILE braking or accelerating, you have a greater chance of losing traction. Because you're in a FWD car, all force from the engine will also be on your turning wheels. Using the brakes instead of your engine will put ~70% of the stopping force on your front tires, and ~30% on your rears. Your hand brake will be 100% braking from the rear tires.

So to get back to driving on snow, if you're driving in 2nd gear at 25 mph on snow, you're probably around 3k rpms. If you try to make a turn and you let off the gas to do it, you're going to cause the engine to slow the front tires. This uses some of your 'available' friction. Begin turning, and it'll use more. Try to turn too hard, and you're gonna slip.

The best method for driving where traction is an issue is to reduce the overall forces on your tires. Don't turn sharply, don't accelerate/decelerate quickly, and take your time getting places. Oh, and look out for the idiots who will slide right out in front of you because they were going to fast.

Also, don't try to stop using the hand brake. It's much different from using the pedal, and you can easily lock up your rear wheels.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:18 PM   #8
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I wouldn't keep it in a low gear all the time. Try to keep your RPMs as low as possible while doing anything in a low traction situation. Let me try to explain a little bit that will hopefully shine some light on suggested driving during poor conditions.

The coefficient of friction on snow is usually between 0.3 - 0.6. This is much lower than the coefficient of friction on dry asphalt, which is usually about 0.9. Every action you take in a FWD car 'uses' some available friction from your front tires on the surface you're driving on. That means that if you're turning WHILE braking or accelerating, you have a greater chance of losing traction. Because you're in a FWD car, all force from the engine will also be on your turning wheels. Using the brakes instead of your engine will put ~70% of the stopping force on your front tires, and ~30% on your rears. Your hand brake will be 100% braking from the rear tires.

So to get back to driving on snow, if you're driving in 2nd gear at 25 mph on snow, you're probably around 3k rpms. If you try to make a turn and you let off the gas to do it, you're going to cause the engine to slow the front tires. This uses some of your 'available' friction. Begin turning, and it'll use more. Try to turn too hard, and you're gonna slip.

The best method for driving where traction is an issue is to reduce the overall forces on your tires. Don't turn sharply, don't accelerate/decelerate quickly, and take your time getting places. Oh, and look out for the idiots who will slide right out in front of you because they were going to fast.

Also, don't try to stop using the hand brake. It's much different from using the pedal, and you can easily lock up your rear wheels.
Man, I love the techie! I thought the handbrake was for doing powerslides! LOL :)
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Old 01-07-2013, 02:21 AM   #9
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Man, I love the techie! I thought the handbrake was for doing powerslides! LOL :)
lol I love how the guy who lives in NC just gave everyone tips on driving in the snow. Quite ironic.

I'm sure when it snows an inch every 2 years, you never have to keep it in lower gears. But if I dont put my car in 1st or 2nd and keep it there when it snows, I will not make it to the end of the street. End of story.

And I'm sure I don't have to tell you this, but who the hell DOESN'T use the E-Brake in the snow?!?! It's better than building a snow man. When it's icy or snowy I always yank it up before turning into the driveway. It used to be necessary on my old cars, but now it's just fun.
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Old 01-07-2013, 07:59 PM   #10
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lol I love how the guy who lives in NC just gave everyone tips on driving in the snow. Quite ironic.

I'm sure when it snows an inch every 2 years, you never have to keep it in lower gears. But if I dont put my car in 1st or 2nd and keep it there when it snows, I will not make it to the end of the street. End of story.

And I'm sure I don't have to tell you this, but who the hell DOESN'T use the E-Brake in the snow?!?! It's better than building a snow man. When it's icy or snowy I always yank it up before turning into the driveway. It used to be necessary on my old cars, but now it's just fun.
I'm not going to say you can't get where you're going by spinning tires up and down the road, but it's not a preferred method of travel. I'll admit that there are times when driving slow and steady will end up getting you stuck, but if that's the case you should probably just park it and wait.

And just because I'm living in NC doesn't mean I've never driven in snow.
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