10 tips for driving a car in winter - from the right heating to the right tire

In winter, careful driving is required

How do you free your car from a snowdrift? How do you get up the icy slope? And how do I really really ice cream from the disc? Ten answers to the most important driver questions in the Winter.

Do I really need winter tires?
In Germany, a "situational winter tire requirement" applies. Use criterion for seasonal tires is therefore not the time, but the road condition. In the case of black ice, snow, slush, frost or ice, special winter or all-season tires must be used. When that happens, varies from region to region. However, the time orientation is usually called the "O-to-O" rule, according to the winter tires from October to Easter belong to the car. This year, October was very mild, so that many drivers are now changing.

What is the advantage of a four-wheel drive?
Four-wheel drive can be a big advantage in winter. Especially on snowy roads and hilly roads, it offers significant traction advantages over front or rear wheel drive. But even four-wheel drive vehicles reach their limits in snow. Even more important is that when braking the all-wheel advantage does not matter at all. No matter how many wheels are driven, cars always brake all four wheels.

How do I drive on snow?
Generally on a slippery road feel when starting and accelerating is required. It is best to start in second gear and then shift up early to avoid spinning tires. In most automatic transmissions, there are one or two fixed speed steps, which actually activate the engine brake in trailer operation, but are also suitable for starting on snow. Some of the newer cars also have a snow mode, which lowers the wheel speed and partially optimizes ESP intervention. Especially in SUV models for which no four-wheel drive is on offer, this approach has prevailed in recent years.

How do I free myself from a snowdrift?
If you get stuck in the white powder, for example after a heavy nightfall, the rocking method helps. It is carefully driven in forward gear until the wheels spin. Then disengage immediately and let the vehicle roll back while the reverse gear is engaged and carefully approached. Repeat this until the car is free - however, as carefully as possible, otherwise the clutch may be damaged. If you have sand or split with you, you spread it out for better traction next to the wheels of the driven axle. Cat litter also does good service. On the other hand, it is not a good idea to use floor mats or similar as a grip aid. In the worst case, these hurl uncontrolled through the area when in contact with the wheels or get tangled up in the wheel arches.

How do I get up a slippery slope?
If the ESP is on board, it should be deactivated as otherwise the spinning wheels will automatically decelerate. This also applies to driving on slippery slopes. However, it must be expected that the car breaks out. So give it a little gas, keep distance to obstacles and turn on the assistant on top of the mountain again. Who gets stuck on the slope, should also move the weight distribution in the direction of the drive axle. For vehicles with rear-wheel drive, the boot is loaded as heavily as possible - if necessary with the passenger. For cars with front-wheel drive, the rear should be as light as possible. Any rear passengers must then get off briefly.

How do I brake properly on a slippery road?
It is best, of course, to minimize the need for braking from the start. That means: reduce the speed, drive with foresight and keep a sufficient distance from the vehicle in front. Traffic experts recommend a distance three times larger than normal. In poor visibility and at the latest when there is snow, the lights must be switched on - preferably earlier than too late. In order to prevent the car from breaking out or slipping, it is important to use the brakes carefully when the road is smooth or covered with snow. The same applies to accelerating and steering. If you are unsure whether it is smooth at the moment, tap the brake pedal briefly - as far as traffic permits. The car's reaction provides information about the grip of the surface.

How do I quickly ensure a comfortable climate in a cold car?
Heating and blower on strike - this is not always a smart solution. Especially in older and low-power cars pulls too much engine heat in the interior, so that the engine itself does not come up to speed. Often the automaker gives instructions in the manual for proper heating. Can also help a seat heater or a retrofit heating mat. But this should fit exactly on the seat and not slip. Not a good idea in the fight against the bickering at the wheel is warm, thick clothes. It can limit the mobility and also affect the effect of the seat belt. If you do not want to do without the padded down jacket, you should take it off at the latest when the car has been heated.

Are there alternatives to ice scraping?
Even those who have neither garage nor parking heater, do not live with icy slices. A foil or cardboard under the windshield wipers, for example, protect in the morning from annoying scratching. An alternative is a hot water bottle on the dashboard. The heat released should be sufficient, at least at low temperatures, to prevent icing. To warm up the engine while it is still standing, so as to melt the frost from the windows, you should better avoid it. Because the road traffic regulations stipulate that with the use of vehicles unnecessary noise and avoidable exhaust gas loads are forbidden. In addition, the engine is in the state much slower warm than during the ride. And that increases both the wear and the fuel consumption. Also, that you should not take hot water to deicing the slices, should have rumgesprochen meanwhile. The temperature shock can cause the discs to crack.

How do I really cool ice cream?
Wipe and get away - it usually does not work so well with the ice scraping. At temperatures around freezing, it is hard work to get the crust from the disk. And all discs and this as completely as possible. Because who takes only time for a small peephole, risked a fine. Right tool is so essential. The ice scraper should be made of sturdy plastic with a smooth edge for thin layers of ice, a serrated edge for thicker layers and a rubber lip for any resulting water film. You do not have to use a lot of power. Anyone who acts too hastily during ice scraping or exerts a lot of pressure causes quirks and scratches in the glass.

When do I need snow chains?
With snow-covered road and slope snow chains are indispensable. A local snow chains requirement is prescribed by a round blue sign with a picture of the traction help. The rules are different across Europe, so you should be informed in advance of a holiday trip about it, such as a car club. If you have snow chains, you have to drive slowly. In Germany, the speed is limited to a maximum of 50 km / h. Once the snow chains are no longer required, they should be removed again, otherwise they wear out too fast. That may be the case after only a few hundred meters. Later, the chains should be cleaned with water, dried and oiled to protect against corrosion. So they are quickly ready for use again in the snowfall. (Holger Holzer / SP-X)

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