When you purchased your vehicle, you might’ve chosen between front-wheel, rear-wheel, all-wheel and four-wheel drive based on the driving and weather conditions of where you live—or maybe just whichever came with the vehicle. Don’t know the difference between the four? Here’s a breakdown to help you understand how each works while driving on ice and snow:
Front-wheel drive: Front-wheel drive pulls the vehicle forward. It offers better traction out of the four, which can be especially useful in rainy or snowy conditions.
Rear-wheel drive: Rear-wheel drive pushes the vehicle forward, and it’s helpful to have in more rugged conditions where your vehicle may take some wear and tear.
All-wheel drive: All-wheel drive powers all four wheels at the same time, but these systems come in two types: full-time and part-time. Full-time powers all four wheels, while part-time mostly uses two wheels until additional traction control is needed.
Four-wheel drive: Four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive work similarly, except four-wheel drive can be more helpful in off-road terrain.
What happens when your car slides on ice
When your car starts to slide while driving on ice, it’s simply because you’re going too fast for the conditions. That’s why it’s recommended to drive at a slower, safe speed so you can avoid taking abrupt actions like slamming on brakes.
What to do when you start sliding on ice
While you’re driving on ice, few things compare to that moment of panic when your tires lose traction and your vehicle starts to slide. Although you may feel helpless, you’re not. Prompt action, combined with new automotive safety technologies, can help you quickly regain control of your car.
Step 1: Decelerate, and avoid slamming on brakes. Your wheels must be able to turn freely.
Step 2: Look in the direction you want your car to go and turn your wheel in the same direction—this is more commonly referred to as “turning into the slide.”
Step 3: Straighten your steering wheel as you feel your car straightening out.
Also keep in mind how fast and far your car is sliding. If it’s a smaller slide, slightly turn your wheel. If it’s a wider slide, turn it more—but remain cautious. Lastly, always keep your eyes in the direction you want your car to go, and be prepared to respond if your car slides in the opposite direction.
How to help avoid sliding on ice or snow
Now that you know how to correct a slide, here are a few ways to avoid it altogether.
Drive slowly and steer smoothly: It may be obvious, but it’s something to be mindful of while driving in icy or snowy conditions—especially when other cars on the road might zoom past you. Keep it slow and steer smoothly so you don’t cause any abrupt movements.
Allow extra room between you and the car in front of you: If your vehicle slides, you’ll want to give yourself some space to correct it, as it’s best not to apply the brakes.