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VIDEO: How to Drive on Snow and Ice, 1957


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This driver training film is over 50 years old, but the advice on winter driving is still amazingly solid today. Watch and be impressed---and maybe get a little education, too. Also, see a bunch of great '50s cars.

Video: How to Drive on Snow and Ice | Mac's Motor City Garage.com

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You cannot change physics. Basic principals have not changed. Now, The modern addition of Antilock Brakes can cause problems in slippery conditions. I have been in several situations that I know I would have had better control without them. In fact, on and older 93 Ford Explorer I had, I found that I could override the ABS if I started it before the computer completely reset. Then I had much better control in some instances at slow speeds knowing they would grab rather than continue to roll on wet ice in patches, or similar situations. Dandy Dave!

Edited by Dandy Dave (see edit history)
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Someone also pointed out that in the "how to rock a car in the snow" scene, the Studebaker seems to have a '55 Ford dash and steering column. The magic of cinema!

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You cannot change physics. Basic principals have not changed. Now, The modern addition of Antilock Brakes can cause problems in slippery conditions. I have been in several situations that I know I would have had better control without them. In fact, on and older 93 Ford Explorer I had, I found that I could override the ABS if I started it before the computer completely reset. Then I had much better control in some instances at slow speeds knowing they would grab rather than continue to roll on wet ice in patches, or similar situations. Dandy Dave!

I can't quite figure out how you get your tires to "grab" on wet ice.

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I can't quite figure out how you get your tires to "grab" on wet ice.

If half of the road is ice, and half has some resistance because of some bare areas or a ruff area off to the side, It seems some ABS systems will not let the half of the wheels with some resistance help the vehicle to stop. Some of them will keep rolling until they are right out in the middle of the road even at a few miles an hour. A good way to get killed. I do know that on my older vehicles, coming out of the same drive for 40 years, would stop in whatever conditions with old type brakes where the ABS systems would not. Maybe this is on purpose to keep the vehicle from sliding side ways? I don't care if the vehicle slides sideways a bit at slow speeds. But to be standing on the brake and have the thing still roll like there are no brakes at less than a walking pace stinks.

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If half of the road is ice, and half has some resistance because of some bare areas or a ruff area off to the side, It seems some ABS systems will not let the half of the wheels with some resistance help the vehicle to stop. Some of them will keep rolling until they are right out in the middle of the road even at a few miles an hour. A good way to get killed. I do know that on my older vehicles, coming out of the same drive for 40 years, would stop in whatever conditions with old type brakes where the ABS systems would not. Maybe this is on purpose to keep the vehicle from sliding side ways? I don't care if the vehicle slides sideways a bit at slow speeds. But to be standing on the brake and have the thing still roll like there are no brakes at less than a walking pace stinks.

A friend of mine who has 25 years in ABS engineering says there is a kernel of truth to what you say. It is possible, on soft, deep snow or soft sand, to do better with a locked wheel than one controlled by an anti-lock system. This is typically a very low speed phenomenon, and it has to do with the locked wheel “plowing” deeper into the loose material, rather than continuing to roll up and over the surface. A fairly rare event, but it happens.

Regarding the split surface… this is one of the greatest and most important advantages of anti-lock brake control. Getting a car sideways is the most dangerous thing that can happen. The car will often get tripped up by a road surface irregularity and will then roll. Your comment on the wheels on dry pavement getting no brake pressure is not quite correct, unless you are talking about the early rear-only systems found on trucks (maybe like your Explorer, if its old enough). Even then, the front wheel that is on dry pavement will contribute what it can, since it is either not ABS controlled (in an early rear-only truck system), or is independently controlled (some early 4 wheel ABS systems had common rear control, but fronts were always independent). All four wheels are always independently controlled on newer systems.

Algorithm improvements have been made over the years – always trying to alleviate the possibility of fooling the system. Just keep in mind that a rolling tire will be able to develop the longitudinal and lateral forces that you need to maintain control. As soon as a wheel locks, those forces drop off dramatically. Steer-ability is the number one benefit to ABS, with stopping distance a benefit on most surfaces, but not all, as explained above.

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Yes, even at moderate speeds, I can see where a car can end up sideways and roll over. Agree that is a situation you do not want. At very slow speeds it may just slide off down hill of the crown in the road a bit but will be re-coverable. It is just that area at the end of the driveway, and beginning of the highway that it has been an issue. Better the stuff piles up in front of the wheels and stops, than to slow roll in the middle of the road with a large truck comming. Probably would be better to program it to lock the brakes at anything under 3 or 4 miles an hour. And here, It is not that uncommon in the winter to have these conditions. Dandy Dave!

Edited by Dandy Dave (see edit history)
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How to drive on Snow and Ice in 2014... This is how one celebrates nearly four years at Ohio State University...

Yipee! That's where I learned a lot about car control as a tot...and among the first things I did when teaching my own kids to drive: take them to a large, snow-covered parking lot and tell them to have at it.

I sort of feel sorry for folks who live in the temperate parts of the country. Unless the car has tons of power and they drive like lunatics, they never get to learn how to slide a car--what it actually feels like on both sides of the limits of grip. We see this play out when these areas are hit with a rare snowstorm.

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Ahhh heck. We could drive them like we were the Dukes of Hazzard back on the farm in the ice and snow. Even the tractors would slide around and you learned quickly what you could get away with, and not, in those conditions. Yeeee Hawwww. Anti lock brakes stink double when your trying to have a little fun kicking the back end around and then stopping without unnecessary rolling. Even when you stepped on the brakes of a heavy tractor, you knew it would slide a bit, but stop. Sometimes you would put it in gear, let out on the clutch, and the back end would slide around before you gained traction. Sometimes it is an advantage if you are pushing snow and you want to turn quickly. Individual rear brakes on a tractor even allow you more control that you use to your advantage. I can always tell a greenhorn on a tractor as they lock the brakes together. Much better to get a feel for them unlocked. Dandy Dave!

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I pulled the fuse on mine during the winter months for just that reason!

You cannot change physics. Basic principals have not changed. Now, The modern addition of Antilock Brakes can cause problems in slippery conditions. I have been in several situations that I know I would have had better control without them. In fact, on and older 93 Ford Explorer I had, I found that I could override the ABS if I started it before the computer completely reset. Then I had much better control in some instances at slow speeds knowing they would grab rather than continue to roll on wet ice in patches, or similar situations. Dandy Dave!
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