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Old 09-15-2014, 11:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Do I need snow tires? Chains?

I'm considering driving some of my stuff up to store at my in-laws before going abroad for a year or two, but I don't have much experience driving in northern winters. I'd be headed for northern Vermont in late December, and I have almost new Michelin Energy Savers on my car at present. It seems silly to buy a set of snow tires for a single trip, and was wondering if I'll be able to get by with just driving slowly and keeping a set of chains in the car for if conditions get bad. I also have the option of putting it off until spring and just flying up for Christmas.

Thoughts?

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Old 09-16-2014, 08:44 AM   #2 (permalink)
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A lot of people drive in all-season tires through winter & snow. I did for years. You just have to be aware that you have more limited traction. Its not that big of a deal. Once it starts getting slippery, just slow down.
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Old 09-16-2014, 11:11 AM   #3 (permalink)
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You will be fine. Most of New England does not usually get much snow until January anyway. Outside of short-term strom conditions, all-season tires will not be a problem.
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Old 09-16-2014, 11:47 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I've never experienced Northeast winters, but I grew up in Minnesota so that's enough experience for anybody :P

You'll be fine for a single trip. Driving on snow is like driving in rain that is twice as slippery. Give yourself what feels like too much time to stop, go slow around corners, and be careful around snow piles between lanes- they will pull your car to the side much like driving through a deep puddle on one side.

If you get a chance to turn the driver assists off and go drifting in an empty, snowy parking lot, do it and don't be afraid of the e-brake. This car control experience will serve you well in the future, even on dry roads.
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Old 09-16-2014, 11:58 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks all. How much would you slow down on the highway in the winter, if trying to make the best time possible? I understand it's condition dependent, but I'm not certain I'll be able to make a good judgement, lacking experience with what to look for. I'll have someone else paying for gas and I'm trying to avoid paying for a motel, so the biggest reason not to drive quickly would be safety.

Just go with traffic?
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Old 09-16-2014, 01:44 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Go with traffic... drive a wet road like you would in the rain and a dry road...

The thing Southerners don't appreciate is the effectiveness of snow plows and salt in regions that get significant snowfall. The 4" snowfall that paralyzes Atlanta is a weekly occurance, so we plow and treat and go about our business.

The one exception is a winter storm or snow squall. Respect the weather forecast! Winter can be dangerous, but rarely without warning.

That said, I've had snows the majority of my 40 Rochester winters, but then, I really enjoy driving in the snow!

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Old 09-16-2014, 02:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Beware of thin layers of flattened snow when it is just freezing, that is about as slippery as can be. I've seen cars leave the road at a steady 25 mph because they could not keep it straight.
Keep double the distance you would otherwise.

Only thing more slippery is when supercooled rain puts a layer of ice on the road.
The rules for driving on that are simple: Don't.
It's fine for ice skating, we have a picture of my sister skating in the street.

Good quality snow tires make a big difference, yet even those have way less grip in the snow than the worst tires you can buy would have on the dry.
And they can't stand the heat very well. If you'd buy them in Florida they would probably be shot before you reach the cold bits.
Don't bother or buy them locally if you get scared.

Be more careful than other traffic. They are probably locals, are used to the conditions and likely have winter tires. You'd lose grip before they do.

If you travel long distances through the cold always take something to eat, something to drink (containing sugar) and something to keep you warm with you like a blanket or two.
If you happen to get stuck chances are you cannot get anywhere on foot either, and with no engine running it won't take long before its is just as 'warm' inside the car as outside.
Better be prepared than worried.

I too have done me handbrake turn practices and ABS brake testing when nobody was around. Have fun
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Old 09-16-2014, 07:26 PM   #8 (permalink)
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When nobody is behind you, perform a maximum braking test to see how much grip you actually have. This will give you an idea of how much room to leave between the car ahead.

I've safely done 60mph on snow covered highways before. Testing the current conditions and having some practice go a long way to informing the driver of what is safe. Carry a shovel and possibly a tow strap just in case you do get stuck.
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Old 09-17-2014, 12:35 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redpoint5 View Post
When nobody is behind you, perform a maximum braking test to see how much grip you actually have. This will give you an idea of how much room to leave between the car ahead.

I've safely done 60mph on snow covered highways before. Testing the current conditions and having some practice go a long way to informing the driver of what is safe. Carry a shovel and possibly a tow strap just in case you do get stuck.
Knowing how much traction you have is critically important. Even after a storm when there is still fresh snow on the highway, I will drive as fast as I please while ensuring plenty of room for stopping.

A lot of times you can actually have better vehicle control at speeds above 30mph even in deep snow.
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Old 09-17-2014, 09:38 AM   #10 (permalink)
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My parents drove with cheap, nearly bald all season tires last winter until they got stuck in a parking lot that wasn't plowed.

I use snow tires because I'm responsible for keeping the heat on at work and the road is on a township line, so the snow plow often stops half way there and turns around, so I drive the last two miles on unplowed road.

If the weather gets bad you have the option to pull over at a small town or a gas station or even knock on someones door, but chances are you are not going to hit a snow storm and it's going to be clear driving, if you drove that same route every day all winter then yes, you'd hit a few snow storms and would want snow tires.

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