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Best traction in snow

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by John_M, Jan 1, 2009.

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  1. John_M

    John_M Minister of Fire

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    A friend and I recently had an interesting discussion about which gears to use while driving in deep snow (up a driveway) and which gears to use while rocking the vehicle after being stuck in deep snow.

    I believe one should use low gear for best traction in deep snow. He believes one should use high gear for best traction in deep snow. We assumed both vehicles, tires, etc. are the same.

    While rocking a vehicle which is stuck in snow I believe one should go back and forth between reverse and low gears. He believes one should go between reverse and high gears.

    Each of us has about 40 years of living and driving in big snow counry. Neither one of us has been stuck very often. The only thing riding on the outcome of your responses is bragging rights. We didn't even bet a brewski. Many readers on this site live in big snow country; especially this winter. What are your opinions? Which of us does these two things the right way?

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  2. burnham

    burnham Member

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    I generally use 2nd gear to get moving in the snow, I avoid low/first.
  3. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    <>Which of us does these two things the right way? <>

    If both of ya can get out of snowbanks/ keep moving in the deep stuff/ generally arrive at your destination safely - You're BOTH right.
    If one of ya tears up the tranny, he's WRONG!
    Me? I ease out the clutch in 1st...if she breaks loose, I shift to 2nd...
    As far as rocking to get out of a stuck situation...can't answer THAT one...never got stuck in my 4x4 Dakota...even with the oversized 32x11.50 BFG ATs...
    Driven thru 20+ inches of snow to get downed firewood...
    I ALWAYS keep er movin! :)
  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Two blondes were standing over a set of tracks arguing. One said deer tracks, the other said moose, Deer, moose, deer moose. They both got hit by a train.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the vehicle you're arguing over is an automatic and can't actually be forced into a higher gear. On a manual tranny however, too low a gear and you have too much torque which can cause wheel spin. Somewhere in the middle between low and high there will be the best gear.
  5. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    I drive a lot in the snow & mud. Actually, I make a living out of driving in mud because I know how to not get stuck and if I do, how to get out. First try low gear and if she spins, which it will if you're really stuck, a higher gear is always better!
    You got a smart friend there. Listen to him.
  6. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    Sipe the tires it cost more but if you want the best in snow, there it is!!!!!!
  7. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    When I get my pickup stuck in the snow it won't get out in low range 4x4...but it will in high.
  8. John_M

    John_M Minister of Fire

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    Oh Man! You guys have totally destroyed my ego. I'll try using a higher gear in snow to see how it works. What a way to start the new year. I'm not going to tell my buddy about these results because he loves being right and will rub his hands with glee knowing he is right and I am wrong.

    Thanks for the experienced and honest answers.
  9. iceman

    iceman Minister of Fire

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    low gear is good for getting up driveways it keeps the tires from spinning out when you step on it
    actually any gear is good in dry powdery snow
    if its wet slippery snow then i use lower gears as the higher ones make me spin out quickly if i hit ot much gas.. this is going up a drive way.. in street driving i drive as fast as i can control the vehicle safely however 2nd gear is unstoppable goes through snow sleet and even good on ice.....just watch your rpms
  10. Beanscoot

    Beanscoot Member

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    I put my one-wheel-drive truck in neutral and get out the shovel.

    I find rocking in just first or reverse, using the clutch to let the vehicle roll back is the best. I can't shift into another gear fast enough to keep the momentum going. Of course if you had a Model T or TT truck, it would be a piece of cake with that foot operated planetary transmission!
  11. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Are you talking about low range on teh transfer case or first gear on the tranny? I only use low range on the transfer case for hooking up trailers or easing a trailer backwards up a hill where accuracy and smoothness count. DOn't see a need for low range with an auto tranny really. Not so long as your engine/trans is macho enough to pull the high range and you have enough cooling capacity for the auto.

    It is easier to rock a truck using gears that are easily found and right near each other. I would go either R-1 or R-2 depending on ease of selection.
  12. krooser

    krooser Minister of Fire

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    I wish I could fine tall, skinny tires for my 4X4 pickup like we used in the 60's... way more traction in snow as the truck won't "float" on deep snow.

    We've had over 50" so far this year...
  13. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    I'd throw out any notion of any gear "giving better traction" in snow or ice. Traction comes from the interface of the tire and the road surface...period. It doesn't matter if you have 3 gears, 5 gears, 10 etc, the traction is formed between the tire and the road. Secondly, you get the most tractive force AKA "traction" at the point right before the tire starts to spin. There are many systems designed to keep tires in this range for that very reason. Traction control, ABS, etc all work by allowing a computer to monitor the wheel and keep it right at the edge of movement without allowing the tire to lock up or break free from the surface.

    Given a good driver - who is able to apply throttle without spinning the tires - the gear is irrelevant. IMHO, it's slightly easier to find the traction limit in a low gear. Think of moving a big rock which is stuck in the mud. You have a lever 10 foot long with the pivot 1 foot away from the rock (this is low gear) you can apply quite a bit of force, but you also have a large movement to work with. As soon as the rock starts to break free, you can back off the force and move it very slowly. If you have the same lever, but the pivot is 5 foot away from the rock, you apply the force, the rock may break free and shoot a couple feet in the air before you can let off the pressure...equivalent to a high gear and being able to back off the throttle. One neat thing built into my truck, in 4x4 low, the computer feathers the throttle for smooth starts and stops.

    The one place where this goes out the window is were you need flotation and forward momentum to 'stay on top' of the surface...ie deep sand, snow, mud, etc. Then a higher gear with more wheel spin is better.
  14. Gamalot

    Gamalot New Member

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    I live in major snow country here in the NY Catskills. All my vehicles are auto transmissions but I almost never get stuck.

    Tires are a big deal with me and all my cars and truck get Bridgstone Blizzaks from december 1st throught march 15th. They are about the most awesome tire I have ever found but they won't last very long if you do allot of driving on dry pavement. Very soft rubber compound but fantastic in ice and snow. Don't honestly know how they would work in mud.

    Gary
  15. Gamalot

    Gamalot New Member

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    You can drive the snow tires on dry pavement durring the winter with out too much worry. The soft rubber will wear out quick on hot pavement in the summer but is fine for on cold roads.

    Try a set of the Blizzaks next time you need great winter tires. They are not actually heavy lugged snow tires but they stick to ice and snow better then any tire I ever had and according to Tire Rack they have better traction then any of their studable snow tires. I have them on my F 250 diesel and my buddy has the same truck with a plow and heavy lugged snows on his. Even he can't believe how much better my truck goes in deep snow.

    Gary
  16. glacialhills

    glacialhills Member

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    As smokinj said, getting your tires siped is the first and best way to improve traction in any car of truck. Siping the treads is just making thin cuts in the lugs. works great on all tires especially auto all weather tires. You wont believe the difference on ice in the winter or in rain in summer and I see an added benefit of longer tire life. No more switching out summer tires for winter ones. Siping only cost 10 buck extra a tire or so depending on tread at discount tire. Here is a primer and how to diy if you have a tiny bit of ability.
    http://www.4crawler.com/4x4/CheapTricks/TireSiping.shtml#Introduction I live on a very hilly dirt road that is a nightmare when we get a warm day after it is all frozen and our cars go down the road like they have stick-em on the tires.Even better than a 4x4 non siped on the ice. And a 4x4 siped is just awesome. When you see those guys flying by with a plow on the front and wonder how they get such traction when your truck spins and slips even without pushing all that snow its cause their tires are siped.
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