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Old 11-29-2005   #11
WhiteLightning's Avatar
Eagle County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 928
If you don't speed up, slow down, stop or turn, you won't skid. Otherwise, be gentle with those things. If you have 4x4, you are best off downshifting, not riding or tapping your brakes on downhills.

As for speed, if you are going faster than crashed Hummer H2s in the median, and slower than rental cars, Texas, Kansas or Cali license plates, then you are probably about right.

There are all kinds of different fancy tires out there. Some are better than others, but the worst are ones that are ready to be replaced. If you have a non 4x4 Xterra, you may want good tires, sandbags, chains and stuff to help you out. Otherwise it is mostly just common sense and not making any sudden changes in speed or direction. I had BFG All Terrain tires on my old Blazer, and they were much better than my stock tires in the snow. Also way better off road.

Always always always carry extra windshield washer spray. If ever run out on I-70 near the tunnel, you'll understand when you are stopping to rub snow on your windshield every 3 minutes on the way down to Georgetown.

I guess I pretty much repeated what everyone else said. I also like the idea of practicing in big empty parking lot. Copper has a good one that I've gone sideways accross at a high rate of speed in college once.

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Old 11-29-2005   #12
WhiteLightning's Avatar
Eagle County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 928
Also, you can definately go into a skid with ABS, I've done it once and ended up in the woods. If you are skidding and can't get out of it, take your foot off the brake, and a lot of times, you'll regain control.

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Old 11-29-2005   #13
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Thought-criminal, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 989
A note on skidding in parking lots...just make sure the surface really is slick enough to slide around...if you start to slide sideways but your tires suddenly catch, instead of leaving some rubber you could flip over...esp in an Xtremo. Happened to me once on 4wheeler on an abandoned runway..smacked my head off the pavement pretty good (explains alot, huh.)
I hope in the future Americans are thought of as a warlike, vicious people, because I bet a lot of high schools would pick "Americans" as their mascot. -Jack Handy
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Old 11-29-2005   #14
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,097
I got some snow cables for my car. They aren't as beefy as chains, but they do provide better traction on icy roads than just tires. Many people have said that you don't really need them, but I disagree. It can be easy to get caught on shitty roads driving in search of water and snow. The worst I have seen is rain that starts to freeze as it cools down and then the roads freeze and the rain turns to snow. When the road is icy, getting over vail pass or through eisenhower is a bitch. I have brand new mud and snow rated good tires, but when the traffic stops (it will), getting started is very difficult without chains or cables, you just slip and slide. I saw easily 40 cars on the side of I-70 coming back from paddling shoshone during the first big storm this year. I paid about $80 for my set of cables, and I can put them on very easily in a snow storm. The $80 is worth it to get you home, or to the next exit vs. being off in a ditch on the side of I-70 for hours or all night. You are supposed to drive 30 mph or less on the cables, but I got home safe and sound, and i was going to be stuck on vail pass without them. Just my two cents... cables are cheap insurance. Everything else everyone else said is key. Try to brake as little as possible. I almost exclusively use 2nd gear and don't have to use much gas or brake on downslopes. The good news is that if you are boarding or paddling, you ususally have loads of gear in case you do get stuck.
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Old 11-29-2005   #15
Boulder, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 33
I was also stuck on Vail pass for the first big storm of the year. It was a parking lot. A lot of cars going up the hill struggled to start going again every time traffic began moving. I had a little bit of trouble too on the steep parts, although I think it's just because it was my first snow driving experience in this car. I didn't have chains for it yet but I do now. I don't ever want to be the person who can't get his car going in the middle of I-70. You'd be slowing down a lot of traffic, and people who don't want to stop because they don't want to get stuck like you would end up passing real close to you on a slick road.

As long as you drive under control, I'd mainly be prepared for times when the highway is a parking lot and nobody's going anywhere for a long time. Sand and cat litter is good for getting unstuck once, but you'd get tired of using it real fast if you repeatedly found yourself stuck on a steep hill in stop and go traffic.

I would also make sure you have plenty of gas in the tank. I noticed I was low when I went through Vail that night, but I thought I'd just fill up in Summit County. We were quite surprised when it took us at least 2 hours to get to Summit County. Traffic was moving fine until after we passed the last Vail exit. We thought we might have to spend the night on Vail Pass.

I had Blizzaks once and they absolutely rock, but they do wear extremely fast. Those came with the last car I had. When I replace the tires on my current car, I will look at the Nokians first. I still might end up getting some of those sooner for winter use.

I dislike studded snow tires. If you've ever noticed the troughs on highway 36 heading into Boulder from Denver, then you know why. I heard a long time ago (don't know if it's true) that Colorado is the only state where you can legally drive studded snow tires year round. Blizzaks rock and it sounds like there are plenty of more affordable options too. Studs are noisy and they make your car handle and brake worse on dry or wet pavement, which is what most people (especially FRs) spend 95% of their time driving on.

On a sort of relevant note, I keep an air compressor in my trunk year round. If I get stuck in deep sand, I drop my tire pressure to about 5-10 PSI and I can drive no problem. I was amazed the first time I did this.
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Old 11-30-2005   #16
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Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,879
I disagree with Jet's post about siped tires not working- it's a great option if you don't have another $400 bucks to buy SUV snow tires (at a minimum). As I recall, you've already dropped a good amount of money on gear and a pass, so going out and buying $500 worth of Blizzaks is probably not an option. Tire siping usually voids the tire warranty, so make a note of that.

Siping is about $40 and works very well, especially if it's not an all-weather tire and the tread has been worn a bit. Granted, it's not a replacement for expensive snow tires, but it gives the thin layer of water on the top of icy roads a place to go and adds tons more edges to grip. I lived 3 miles up a gravel road that was snowpacked all winter, and siped tires on my Scout worked great. Before I got them siped, they were slick and really sketchy on the braking.

Again- not a true substitute for having very good snow tires, but it's worked for years.

In addition to keeping a shovel, food, and extra clothes in my car, I also have one of those hot water heaters that plugs into your lighter and heats coffee in a mug- you can melt snow and keep yourself warm by drinking hot water while waiting for the tow rather that idling the car.
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Old 11-30-2005   #17
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Join Date: Oct 2003
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one thing that has been touched on (through the ones i read) but should be exaggerated is following distance. i have avoided more crashes than i can count because i gave myself room to do it. another, is dont drive like a granny. going too slow will f up traffic and perhaps cause more accidents because of people smashing brakes behind you. example. come over hill at 30 and some granny is going 10 on the other side. one guys slams brakes and a pile up behind him ensues. I am not saying to do 70 50 or even 30 everywhere, really bad conditions do exist, but going 15 just because there is a little snow is absurd. again, if you leave double or triple the normal following distance you have plenty of time to react to problems in front of you or your own problems before creaming someone else. the faster you go the further you should stay back. oh, and check your mirrors often. if someone mobs up behind you get over before they are on your ass and whip over themselves. its worth a good chuckle as you pass them in the ditch down the road. if you really question your ability, stay home or ride with someone who knows how to drive, which unfortunately is vast minority. you do have 2 strikes already seeing where you are from (couldnt resist) but trust me there are plenty of natives around here that cant drive worth a sht. your kit sounds sufficient and chains or cables are a worthy purchase once you actually need them, and if they are not there you will.
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Old 11-30-2005   #18
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 112
I have a 4x4 pickup with rear wheel drive. I assume it's a similar setup to what you have. I have driven it eight winters now through some of the steepest passes in Colorado. As for chains, they are a good idea but with four wheel drive you probably never use them. You shouldn't need to use them anyway. I say forget the studded snow tires. For as much as you'll need them chains will work just fine. In fact, all I ever had were all season radials on my truck and I was the one pulling people out of ditches. As long as you have good tread on your tires you will probably never need anything more than four wheel drive. If you slip in four wheel drive just shift it to four low. You should have enough traction to get up anything. Just remember go slow because you may be kicking ass but four wheel drive doesn't mean four wheel stop. Also pump you brakes if you accidentally lock them.

An iced over parking lot is how we learned. Take it out of four wheel drive speed up then swerve and slam on the brakes. Next try pulling your self out of it. ItÂ’s what we called doing donuts or cookies. This is also alot of fun. Do this about 3 or 4 times a dozen times each and you see that small correction will pull you out of an uncontrolled skid better than big corrections. Also, I keep power bars in my truck. They may taste bad but they fill you up and give plenty of energy for that shoveling.

Drive Safe and have fun,
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Old 11-30-2005   #19
Boulder, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 33
I totally agree with Chad about small corrections instead of huge corrections. I always keep it in the back of my head that if I slide, I'm keeping both hands on the wheel. That way I can't turn the wheel too far. Trying to turn the wheel all the way back and forth real fast is not recommended. If your rear slides left, gently turn the steering wheel to the left until you recover, and vice versa.
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Old 11-30-2005   #20
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The Ranch, Colorado
Paddling Since: 04
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,134
For the record, I've lived in Colorado for 10 years now. So I've driven my car in ice frequently - I don't enjoy it, and I don't get on the freeway doing it, but I get back and forth to work.

Oh, and I live in Colorado Springs, so pile it on even more!

Where do I go to look for chains and how do I know what's good versus a walmart-special...?

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