Brake the right way can be the most challenging skill to conquer while driving on a snowy Omaha Road. Slamming on the brakes in snowy weather could cause you to spin out of control, but if you do start to skid, do NOT slam on the brakes. When you do need to use your brakes, do so gently without locking the wheels. Once the front wheels have locked, you’ll no longer be able to steer, and you’ll continue straight on. ABS will automatically release the brakes momentarily, and then re-apply them to keep the wheels going round enough for you to steer. A word of caution though – ABS stops working below about four mph, so progressively lift off the brakes as you come to rest. Otherwise you may continue to slide – right into an accident. If you don’t have ABS, pump the brake pedal on and off to give alternate moments of braking and steering.
If you are sliding down a hill, release the brake pedal until you regain steering control, and then gently reapply the brakes.
Note: Although four wheel drive vehicles can keep going in slippery conditions, their brakes are no better than a two wheel drive vehicles and being heavier, they tend to have longer stopping distances – even in good conditions.
Do NOT shift into lower gears during a descent, as the car’s momentum speeds up the engine to match the road speed in that gear, which in snow could exceed tire grip resulting in a skid. Select a lower gear before you begin the descent, but resist driving in first gear as it’s more difficult to steer smoothly than in second gear.
Steering and braking at the same time causes your vehicle to share available grip between those two functions, so either one detracts from the tires ability to do the other.
Slow down to the correct speed before you get to a corner. Make downward gear changes while you are still travelling in a straight line, then the tire’s entire grip can be used for steering around the corner. Accelerate gently through the turn.
On ice, traction/grip is at a premium. Studded and studless tires offer slightly different traction depending on the road conditions. According to a 2002 study by the University of Washington, “Studded tires produce their best traction on snow or ice near the freezing mark and lose proportionately more of their tractive ability at lower temperatures than do studless or all-season tires.”
Winter tires aren’t just for snow. They use a soft rubber compound that out-performs ‘normal’ rubber in temperatures below 7˚C when summer tires stiffen up and lose grip. They’re also designed, thanks to snow-clearing tread patterns and thousands of tiny cuts in the tread blocks, known as ‘sypes’ to grip tenaciously on snow and ice.
Performance tires are designed with large tread blocks so that there is more rubber in contact with the road. Winter tires are designed with smaller tread blocks and in those tread blocks are cuts called sypes. These sypes are compliant and grip around small variations in the driving surface. The actual rubber is a composition designed to be compliant at lower temperatures. The actual tread cross section is narrower, allowing the tire to cut through the snow easier and find traction.
The combination of smaller tread blocks, sypes, smaller tread area and different compound make the tires work better on icy/snowy surfaces.
Want more detailed information? Contact us, Great Plains Auto Body is an independent, family owned and operated, collision repair facility providing auto body repair, frame repair, painting touch up and repair services for all makes and models of import and domestic cars. There are three locations; Omaha Metro (Grover Street and Emmet Street) and Council Bluffs, IA that provide Enterprise rental cars while your repairs are completed.