Ask me anything about winter driving and maintenance - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-05-2014, 11:57 AM Thread Starter
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Question Ask me anything about winter driving and maintenance

With the cold season coming for many of us again, I figured I'd offer my help.

If you have any questions about driving in winter and low-traction conditions, or any questions regarding winter and cold-weather maintenance, I'll try to answer anything I can.

I live in Finland where we get at least 4-6 months of heavy snow and ice every year, with temps going below -4 F, and I drive in those conditions almost every day during winter months.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-05-2014, 01:44 PM
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Which is why I only use Nokian tires for our winter months.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-05-2014, 01:53 PM Thread Starter
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Which is why I only use Nokian tires for our winter months.
Yup, I've had some top of the line Michelins, but Nokian Hakkapeliittas beat them hands down in my experience.

Proper winter tires are easily the best investment for safe winter driving, and this is one of the few purchases where you don't want to save money. The cheaper tires are usually nowhere near as good as the more expensive ones.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-05-2014, 07:29 PM
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For the dispute sake, try survive heavy winters with no traction, no ABS, no AWD, no snow tires and no snow chains.
This is how I did live in Poland for several winters - all I had was my skills and occasionally help of passers-by who pushed me out of snow bank.
I was fortunate enough that the city I used to live in, had old airstrips, that before was it was chop down for new housing, was wetted by Fire Dept for ice driving practice.
Got my coolant boiling at 10F for whatever that tells.
Surprisingly the trained skill stay for long time. When I hit black ice after over 10 years in California, I still had the proper reaction.
You have about 1/4 of seconds for proper reaction, so it has to be trained as no time to think.
Nice gesture gmoz


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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-05-2014, 07:35 PM Thread Starter
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For the dispute sake, try survive heavy winters with no traction, no ABS, no AWD, no snow tires and no snow chains.
This is how I did live in Poland for several winters - all I had was my skills and occasionally help of passers-by who pushed me out of snow bank.
I was fortunate enough that the city I used to live in, had old airstrips, that before was it was chop down for new housing, was wetted by Fire Dept for ice driving practice.
Got my coolant boiling at 10F for whatever that tells.
Having done that a few times, but thankfully not for the whole winter, I can say it's pretty scary stuff. There is zero room for error at least in the conditions here - you can't even accelerate or brake more than just a tiny bit or you'll lose traction right away.

It does put your pre-emptive driving skills to the test when you need an insane amount of room to stop if there's a problem ahead... Wouldn't recommend it
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-06-2014, 01:33 AM
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Used to drive a a 1992 GTi all winter with Nokians and no ESP, ABS, or TC.

The car was not driveable in snow with the fat factory high performance tires on it, but I made it through one winter. Then I found the Nokians and the GTi hooked up better that 4 wheel drive trucks.

Also did a lot of ice racing with that same car in the non studded tire class and we always great finishing positions.

I still have the car and when my daughter was learning to drive I took her out to the stadium parking lot when it was covered with hard pack snow and ice and teach her car control skills. She got quite good at it after couple of dozen trips and over 30 combined hours in the frozen stuff.
She was also told that on glare ice with no studs (studs are banned in my state) the car will be unresponsive much if any input and to make sure she left plenty of room for unexpected issues on ice.

In reality driver's education the US is a joke. Memorize a few road rules, take about 12 hours of behind the wheel instruction and a 16 year old can get a license.

When I got my license in the UK it was very expensive for the training and it was 4 times more intensive. Then for the first year I had to drive around with a red "L" on the back of my car so drivers around me knew that I was lacking real world experience on the road.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-06-2014, 06:31 AM
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I don't think anyone could manufacture enough "L" stickers for the idiot drivers around here. Another 10 days and I'll be headed down to Florida to join my other "Q-Tip" drivers. Another very different but invigorating experience.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-06-2014, 08:51 AM Thread Starter
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She was also told that on glare ice with no studs (studs are banned in my state) the car will be unresponsive much if any input and to make sure she left plenty of room for unexpected issues on ice.
I've driven a few winters with non-studded tires and this pretty much goes with my experience as well. Non-studded winter tires from a good brand are already A LOT better than summer tires, but compared to studded, it does require you to drive much more carefully. As long as studded tires are legal, I will always recommend them just from the safety standpoint in that they do give you a little more room for error.

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In reality driver's education the US is a joke. Memorize a few road rules, take about 12 hours of behind the wheel instruction and a 16 year old can get a license.

When I got my license in the UK it was very expensive for the training and it was 4 times more intensive. Then for the first year I had to drive around with a red "L" on the back of my car so drivers around me knew that I was lacking real world experience on the road.
In Finland it costs you almost 2 500 USD to get a license and requires both theory and practice lessons, a theory exam, a practical exam requiring you to drive with an instructor who grades you (and WILL fail you even for just a single thing if it's bad enough), a driving in low light conditions lesson and a low-traction lesson on a track.

The driving school I went to emphasized what they called pre-emptive driving quite a lot... essentially it boils down to trying to always place yourself in as good position as possible, in case something unexpected was to happen, and paying attention to a number of things.

I think it's one of the major reasons why I've never been in an accident (in addition to learning to handle my cars well)
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-06-2014, 08:58 AM
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Driver education will not change the habits that are enforced by government on the roads.
Ice driving can be a pleasure, beside driving on icy road. I was routinely making 2 seconds U-turn on 20 foot wide street.
Get it to about 10 mph, kick the steering wheel and hit either gas, or parking brake at the same time. Most of European cars have hand brake with lever in the center, so ir is easier.
Funny physics I still remember. On clean ice, rolling in N - pushing the brake gave feeling of acceleration. Took me a while to figure it out.
Old car rolling resistance was higher than friction between locked wheel and ice, so when you hit brake on rolling car, the deceleration dropped by noticeable level.
Sure not something you want to play with having other cars in front.


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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-06-2014, 03:42 PM
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That and the pressure of the car's weight creates heat on the ice and it gets more slip to it as the car's pressure on the ice is melting it just enough to create enough moisture to lubricate the contact patch.
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