Four Tips Help You Get to the Hill in One Piece.
The rooms are booked, the skis are tuned, the bags are packed, and most importantly, it’s storming. Here are some tips to ensure you make it to the mountain safely and in style.
1. Choose the Right Vehicle
If you’re like me and you’re dedicated to never putting chains on your vehicle your best bet is to invest in an all-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive vehicle. A front-wheel drive vehicle with snow tires is the next most reliable choice. Rear-wheel drive is not ideal. The force of pushing the car from the rear causes the vehicle to fishtail in slick conditions. Check out our picks for the best cars for winter travel.
2. Prep Your Car Like Your Ski Gear
Not literally, of course. Start the season with a good set of snow or all-weather tires. Before you hit the road to chase the next powder storm, check that all your headlights and windshield wipers are working properly and that any routine maintenance is up to date. Don’t forget to top off your windshield wiper fluid! Prepare for the worst by having extra warm clothes (especially gloves!), food, and water. Even if you have a 4-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle it’s recommended that you carry chains and know how to install them.
3. Take it Slow
It can take an extra few hundred feet or more to stop the car on a snowy or icy road so look ahead, take it slow, and avoid any sudden movements. Accelerate and decelerate in a slow and controlled manner and try to maintain a smooth and consistent speed through turns. Avoid the urge to accelerate when going uphill as this may cause your car to “fishtail.” It’s easy to get caught in the mad dash for first chair on a powder day but cautious driving can make the difference in whether you make it to the mountain or not.
4. When You Start to Slide
Even the most cautious driver will occasionally lose traction driving in ice and snow so it’s important to know what to do. First, don’t panic! Take your foot off the accelerator and gently turn the wheel into the direction of the slide. This will feel counter intuitive but turning into the slide will actually help your tires regain traction. Avoid the urge to slam on the brakes as this will increase your likelihood of losing control. Many modern cars have well-designed stability control systems that will help you regain control as smoothly as possible.
If you’re not used to driving in snowy conditions I recommend finding an empty parking lot where you can practice driving in icy conditions.
Driving on slick roads can often be counter-intuitive and knowing what to expect ahead of time will reduce the stress and your chances of getting into an accident. Take it slow and we’ll see you bright and early in the lift lines on the next powder day.
Image Credit: GT Scotland via YouTube