I know many of you don't drive your vette in the snow, but we see them driving around every winter so I know a few of you do!. I wrote this up last year for the Camaro Drivers because that seemed to be a major area of concern as many of those owners drive it as their daily year round. Most of the same tips for driving a manual C5 Camaro are the same as for these vettes.
How to drive a camaro/corvette in winter:
What you need: Winter or All Season tires, Four sand bags, two strips of carpet, and a small shovel if you park on street or outside.
1. Put on snow tires or at least all seasons. Pirelli Pzeros will NOT work in snow and ice… plain and simple. In really deep snow, consider a pair of chains to keep in your trunk.
2. Buy some sand bags to put in the trunk. I recommend about 240 lbs (four 60 lbs). Make sure you have two on each side, and put them as far towards the rear of the vehicle as possible.
3. Drive slowly and carefully- You own a camaro/corvette. You probably want to drive it like it’s a camaro/corvette. Don’t do that during winter though… drive slowly and carefully even when you don’t want to. Save the fun driving for a good-weather day!
4. Turning: What a lot of people forget to realize is what they learned in 6th grade physics. Accellearting is simply a change in velocity. This can be done in three ways, speeding up, slowing down, and changing direction. Just like when racing, you never want to do more than one of these at a time in limited traction scenarios. For that reason, what they teach you in race schools applies to turning in snow- BRAKE before you turn, then turn, then accelerate. Do NOT brake IN a turn, and use caution when accelerating IN a turn.
5. Starting: If the camaro/corvette slips when your trying to accelerate from a stop, ease up on the gas! If your driving an auto, put it in 2 to lock the transmission into 2nd gear. If you are driving a manual V6, start in 2nd gear (skip first). If you are in a V8, consider 2nd or even 3rd gear to get going. Look ahead and keep distance from vehicles in front of you! The camaro/corvette is a heavy car, and even all season tires may not grip as well as the truck in front of you with snow tires. Double the distance you normally would and keep your eyes open for brake lights!
6. Stopping: When stopping, brake well in advance, apply the brakes gently. You don’t want to skid if you don’t have to. If you start skidding lay off the brakes. If your driving a stick, downshift into stops. Try to always have an “out” when braking- know where you can go if you can stop fast enough (parking lot entrance, median, berm)
7. When skidding- Properly navigating a skid is like braking without antilock brakes. Its ideal, but its difficult for most people- especially under pressure. For this reason, if your less experienced what is typically recommended now days is to simply reduce power (let off gas… don’t brake!), and turn the steering wheel the direction you want to go. I repeat… don’t brake! Intuition will handle your steering! Don’t steer too far though (if your not turning, that doesn’t mean you want to turn the wheel FURTHER- just simply keep it pointed where you want to go). For more experienced drivers, you want to navigate towards the direction of the skid to quickly regain traction and then ease into the direction you want to go. This sounds simple, but is much more difficult under pressure.
8. Hills: Try not to brake. When going down hills, downshift in a manual. Auto drivers may benefit from using tap shift and downshifting also. Coast down the hill, but do not let your car get out of control. If you must brake, slow and steady is the way to go. Don’t pump it or feather it. When going up hills, speed up before hitting the incline to carry your momentum into the hill. If you’ve tried to get up a hill multiple times with no luck, try to back up first- back up and get a “running start”, building momentum to get up the hill. Drive up the treads of other vehicles… or don’t! if the treads of other vehicles really is down to bare concrete, that will give you more traction- however, frequently they’ve just polished off the ice for you. Sometimes you can actually get more traction in the snow. Try driving up slightly off center with your treads in the snow. You might slip a bit, but you often get more traction going up than you would trying to drive up slick ice! Lastly, FWD and 4x4s benefit from shaking the steering wheel back and foreth to gain traction. In rare situations, even a RWD can use that trick to move the car just enough to get a tiny bit of grip. It is worth a shot if all else fails!
9. Getting stuck- Keep two pieces of short piece of old carpet in your trunk. If your stuck on ice in a parking space, you can put the carpet under the rear tires to get traction. Learn to “rock” your car if necessary, but don’t do it too long. You can easily burn out the transmission. Rocking is quickly going from “D to R” in an auto, or “1 to R” in reverse (or 2 to R in ice). Rock the car back and foreth trying to get better traction. This works effectively with the carpet trick as you rock the car onto carpet. If the car is REALLY stuck, use a shovel to clear out area on front of the front AND rear wheels, as well as in front of the bumper if its high enough to get in your way.
10. PRACTICE- if your not familiar with driving in winter (or driving a RWD or stick in winter), go practice! Even seasoned veterans benefit from a quick romp in a parking lot. Using an empty parking lot during the first snow, practice braking, skidding, and seeing how the car handles in the snow. When practicing, throw your car into a skid and do some donuts. Seriously, just get a feeling for how your car does things in snow and how to get it out of skids.
11. Other tips and tricks: Foggy front window? Open your front windows slightly and turn AC on air recirculation. The AC actually removes moisture from the car! If you park your car outside, consider buying a ice shield. These make leaving in the morning 10x easier. Although its $26 here, I paid $1 at the dollar store for the same thing. I’ve also seen them at walmart: http://www.amazon.com/Auto-Expressio.../dp/B000BYRHIS
. If traction control literally freezes both of your tires, turn it off when conquering an obstacle. Most drivers will want to turn it back on for normal driving in winter!
12. Winter Service: Make sure your car is in good condition and properly serviced. Sounds silly, but this leads to most winter car issues.
If you live where there is a lot of salt, consider getting the underbody protection. Underbody protection is only as good as it is applied, so do due diligence when choosing an underbody protector.
Wash the UNDERBODY of your car between salt cycles. Salt is one of the most detrimental elements to cars, and getting an underbody spray can keep it clean.