Driving In Slippery Conditions (Automatic) - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 15 Old 01-12-2012, 02:41 PM Thread Starter
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Driving In Slippery Conditions (Automatic)

I'm still a fairly new driver and have been given some conflicting information as to whether or not it's better to shift into neutral or second gear with an automatic transmission if you start to skid or are unable to stop. My car doesn't have ABS so I already know about threshold breaking, where you brake ever so slightly then release, then brake again.

What does everyone recommend and why, or will either option be sufficient in helping slow down the car without having to rely too heavily on the brakes which can sometimes make things worse...
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post #2 of 15 Old 01-12-2012, 02:51 PM
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I wouldn't do either, unless you are gaining speed going down a huge hill. Then DOWNSHIFT. It is far preferable to do this PRIOR to gaining speed. If you know it is slippery, which you should, and you are headed toward a hill where you may need to brake (which you don't want to do if you can avoid it) downshift prior to help hold the car back. If it is not a hill situation, you CAN downshift, but I would just recommend taking your foot off the accelerator, do not brake unless you have to, then very very gently.

At least this is what I have been taught and it has worked for me for 40+ yrs.

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post #3 of 15 Old 01-12-2012, 02:58 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, that's what my father basically suggested to do "as little as possible" when the car is skidding or unable to stop. Just look where I want to go and aim for a snowbank instead of that Lexus if I need to bail to protect myself from going into oncoming traffic. :)

The car I drive picks up an insane amount of speed going down hills, I'll try down shifting next time and see what happens. There are many hills I have to go over where I would love some help going down without having to ride the brake, especially in the winter. I just have to remember to shift back into D once I go over 40km/h or bad things will apparently happen to the transmission.. :s
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post #4 of 15 Old 01-12-2012, 03:02 PM
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Very true. I suggest trying it on a nice day. You will notice a major difference. Yes, you need to remember to shift back to D, but if it is THAT slippery you may be better off not going over 40 anyway.
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post #5 of 15 Old 01-12-2012, 03:03 PM
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I wish that I could teach Driver's Ed so that every student I had would learn about how much power you have with a car. I would start them ALL, 1st lesson in a big empty parking lot, putting it in gear and just braking--NO ACCELERATOR PEDAL.
If winter driving is difficult for you, curtail it as much as possible.
Since you're horsey, do you have any friends/family who tow a trailer? If so, go with them and watch them drive it. Every pull out is slow, we take our foot off of the accelerator when slowing, coast and are gentle with the brakes. THAT can teach you how to drive on ice and snow. =D--
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post #6 of 15 Old 01-12-2012, 03:43 PM Thread Starter
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I don't have any friends who tow a trailer, however Young Drivers taught me what you mentioned about foot off accelerator, coast towards the stop sign and gentle with the brakes. I also know not to brake in the corners, steer into the skid if necessary and look where you want to go, etc.

The main problem for me is going down hill on icy conditions and coming to a safe controlled stop at the bottom, or even on a level road there are a few intersections near me that get covered in black ice due to our proximity to the ocean. I never accelerate down those hills, always coast, but as mentioned I am forced to ride the brakes which then cause me to skid a little bit.

Young Drivers never once mentioned shifting to a lower gear to help with coasting down hill, but I'm definitely going to give that a try when it's nicer out. I work from home so I'm fortunate enough to not have to go out in most storms, but there is still the odd occasion where I have to go somewhere to pick someone up or for appointments.

I'm curious though, on the newer cars that have traction control and winter modes, do they help A LOT or just a tiny bit where most of the skill is still required from the driver?
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post #7 of 15 Old 01-12-2012, 04:45 PM
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NEVER put the car in neutral on ice or snow...it removes all power to the wheels and you are at the mercy of wind, bumps, banked roads, or whatever at that point...as long as you are "in gear" the engine will slow the car down almost to a stop unless you don't know how to steer a skid...
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post #8 of 15 Old 01-13-2012, 05:51 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Faceman View Post
NEVER put the car in neutral on ice or snow...it removes all power to the wheels and you are at the mercy of wind, bumps, banked roads, or whatever at that point...as long as you are "in gear" the engine will slow the car down almost to a stop unless you don't know how to steer a skid...
Hrm, see this is where I get confused because the Canadian Govt recommends going into neutral but several friends and my father have also said, don't go into neutral:

OSH Answers: Driving Tips - Winter

What should you do if you start to skid?
- DO NOT BRAKE!
- DO NOT ACCELERATE!
- Disconnect the driving force on the drive wheels by doing either of the following
- If you're using automatic transmission, shift to neutral. However, if you cannot do that immediately, do not touch the transmission gear.
- If you're using manual transmission, declutch.

There seems to be a lot of arguments online for both going into neutral or going into second gear. I think I'll give second gear a try instead and see how that works. What I would like to do now is find a parking lot during the next ice storm and try out both methods to see what feels best during a forced skid. Too bad there are no winter driving schools around me who can simulate all of these problems.
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post #9 of 15 Old 01-13-2012, 07:09 AM
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neither, I don't see how shifting into either gear is going to do anything. Youare skidding and have no traction.
Look at it this way. What are gears designed to do ? They are designed to make you go, they do really well at that task.
What are brakes designed for? They are designed to make you stop. They do a very good job.
Use gears for go, brakes for stop. In slick conditions you should drive like you have no brakes. Coast to a near stop when you know a stop or turn is coming. Much better to never have a skid in the first place. If you do you were driving too fast, or tailgating, or waiting till the last second to brake at a turn or stop.
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post #10 of 15 Old 01-13-2012, 09:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jinxremoving View Post
Hrm, see this is where I get confused because the Canadian Govt recommends going into neutral but several friends and my father have also said, don't go into neutral:

OSH Answers: Driving Tips - Winter

What should you do if you start to skid?
- DO NOT BRAKE!
- DO NOT ACCELERATE!
- Disconnect the driving force on the drive wheels by doing either of the following
- If you're using automatic transmission, shift to neutral. However, if you cannot do that immediately, do not touch the transmission gear.
- If you're using manual transmission, declutch.

There seems to be a lot of arguments online for both going into neutral or going into second gear. I think I'll give second gear a try instead and see how that works. What I would like to do now is find a parking lot during the next ice storm and try out both methods to see what feels best during a forced skid. Too bad there are no winter driving schools around me who can simulate all of these problems.
Being in gear gives you power to the wheels - when you shift into neutral you have absolutely no power to the wheels. Part of getting out of a skid, in addition to steering the skid, is to regain control - if you have no power to the wheels, you just skid back and forth or do a donut - you have absolutely no control, and cannot regain it while you are in neutral.

Whoever published that advice - or gives that advice - obviously knows nothing of physics. Ask a race car driver some time if they put their car in neutral when they go into a skid, and they will look at you as if your are nuts...
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