Snow Driving Tips: Getting up the Hill
Seattle is known for it’s rolling hills and beautiful mountain ranges. But come winter, those same hills turn into steep, slippery nightmares for most drivers.
However, there’s a few tips on how even a novice driver can conquer many a Seattle hill. First, momentum is your friend when trying to go up a hill. Many drivers make the mistake of driving too slow and getting stuck. It’s understandable, because a driver’s instinct is to go slower in the snow. Once your car stops on an icy hill, there’s little chance of getting it moving again.
The trick is to try and build enough speed while approaching a hill and keeping a light but even pressure on the gas. Ideally, you want your tires to spin on the snow a little bit – but not so much that your car is just spinning on ice. Modern vehicles with traction control do much better on hills because these vehicles will automatically adjust tire spin if it detects too much slippage.
We’re going to let you in on a little known secret though – one that can turn almost any novice driver into a king of the snow hill. That trick is driving in reverse! This might sound bizarre, but the principle is based on elementary physics. By driving a car in reverse up a hill, the weight of the car is shifted to the front tires. The majority of all vehicles are front-wheel drive, which means weight is now fully on the tires delivering the power. Since traction is created as a result of friction and weight, this setup provides the maximum amount of traction for a FWD vehicle.
Those driving a rear-wheel drive vehicle have a natural advantage going up a hill since they already have the full amount of traction going up a hill. That doesn’t mean you should go out and buy a RWD car yet, because the disadvantage of a RWD configuration is a much greater loss in steering control vs a FWD car.
Check out our SeattleAuto.net video below that shows these techniques.
Disclaimer: Before you go driving up just any hill in reverse, we should warn you that this technique should only be applied as a measure of last resort and that there are probably laws against this on most public roads. While this technique may help your vehicle’s grip, you should be aware that it will only be effective on smaller hills that are not steep. Any amount of factors like ice, steepness, tire tread and driver skill will take far greater precedence than simply driving in reverse. In short – use care and attempt at your own risk!