I demonstrate driving a modern 2 wheel drive, front wheel drive vehicle on some snowy, hilly unplowed roads. I also will show why in some circumstances traction control can limit your ability to climb or get unstuck. There are certain situaitons where turning traction control off can actually help.
When I filmed this video, I was using tires that were completely worn out. They had approx. 62,000 miles on them (rated for 50,000) and were due to replaced later the same week. Since we happened to get some snow a few days before I had the new tires, I decided it would be a good opportunity to demonstrate driving with very poor traction. While its always best to have tires much better suited for snow driving, this video shows that they will even work when they are not.
The biggest key to winter driving in the snow is to be smooth and graceful with all inputs to the car. Accelerate smooth, brake smooth, and turn smooth and gradual. Any jerky input will increase the chances the tires will lose traction and slide.
When you are sliding, releasing the brake will usually allow the tires to regain traction. If you need to slow down, you can then reapply the brake gently. If the slide resumes, repeat this process, gently tapping the brake until control is regained.
This is especially important if you need to steer the vehicle away from an obstacle during the slide. If the brake is being held, the front tires cannot rotate. And if they cannot rotate, they cannot steer the vehicle. In a previous post, How to Control a Slide on Icy Surfaces (https://www.modernsurvivalists.com/control-slide-icy-surfaces/) I used a viral video of a mass pile-up which made an excellent example of the difference between vehicles that did use this technique, and those that did not, on the same stretch of road.
Traction Control on newer vehicles is very sophisticated. It’s purpose is to prevent the driver from spinning the tires. Wheel spin can cause the vehicle to begin to slide. While controllable, it requires some practice. Additionally, on dry pavement conditions, you get more traction without spinning the wheels.
However in some conditions, including long snowy climbs, some wheel-spin can actually increase the total traction and help the vehicle maintain momentum. The problem with traction control in these conditions is that it as soon as it detects a wheel slipping, it reduces the power to the wheels. when it is very slippery out, the traction control computer continually reduces power to the wheels until you reach the point there is virtually zero power to the wheels. Even with the pedal to the floor, the vehicle will just act like you are not pressing the accelerator at all.
In the video I show this sort of situation, and then how to disable traction control. With the traction control disabled, I was then able to start moving and gradually build enough speed to climb the hill.