OT: Talking Cars Tuesday - Beating Winter

Submitted by JeepinBen on September 19th, 2017 at 11:42 AM

Typically I only do a bye-week thread in season, but c'mon. This board is depressing today. I know, what we really need is another thread about our 3-0 football team and how disappointing they are. Go elsewhere to discuss that, there's plenty of threads.

ANYWAY - it's been unseasonably warm but winter is on its way. What's your best winter driving story? Kick a storm's ass? Drive circles around an SUV in your RWD car with winter tires? Have snow come through your convertible top? (guilty, in the 91 YJ)

My best? I was living in Lansing when we got about 13" of snow in 2011. I made it to work in my normal 10 minutes for the 5 mile commute. 4 lane wide street, 32" tires, 40mph speed limit, that was just fine. I may have passed an entire line of people who were waiting behind a plow truck.



September 19th, 2017 at 11:53 AM ^

there was a major snow storm in Ann Arbor and I didn't have any semblance of a clue how different it is to drive in snow.

I successfully get about 3 lights away from my house, and then get to the left turn from Ellsworth onto State (this is way before the traffic circle was there). I'm thankfully one of the only cars on the road, because I do about 3 full donuts as I try to turn, and have no idea how to correct myself.

My brother, who was driving with me, thought we were going to die. For some reaosn, I distinctly remember that I wasn't scared at all, and thought it was a little humorous.

15-year-old me was an idiot.



September 19th, 2017 at 11:53 AM ^

Stuck on that hill in Ann Arbor in front of the Gandy Dancer. The road was just one big sheet of ice, all the way up the hill. Made it halfway up, then stopped, tires spinning like crazy. Had to slowly, slooooooooowly let my car roll back down the hill and take a more horizontal route.

That same year I had to help my housemate from Miami (YTM) dig his car out of a ditch. It just isn't winter if you aren't helping people get their cars out of snowdrifts. Welcome to Michigan!


September 19th, 2017 at 11:52 AM ^

I was living in Lapeer at the time and making the 80 mile commute to Lansing daily. It ended up being a horrible driving experience as it was 15"+ in Lapeer.  I had a shitty Dodge Caliber as a commuter car at the time with tiny tires. It took me 7 hours to get home and I got stuck multiple times. I couldn't see the road at all so I was navigating by listening for the rumble strips. I missed my exit twice because I couldn't even see the exit. Now I live in Lansing so that's done but it was a horrible day/night.


September 19th, 2017 at 11:53 AM ^

for work.  It was a blizzard in Michigan, and cars were going off the road.  About halfway down Ohio, it turned into an ice storm.  I had to stop at McDonalds to grab food and let the heaters go full blast on the glass to open up the shrinking hole I was trying to see the road from.  By the time I got to my hotel I had an inch and a half of ice built up on the mirrors and front of the car. That was a stressful long drive.

Also, driving up to northern Vermont to go skiing during a blizzard. Very stressful trying to pass when passing lanes are covered in snow. 


September 19th, 2017 at 11:59 AM ^

I lived in Germany in the early 80's and had a 1976 VW Beetle.  I drove down a road faster than I should have, at dusk - no issues.  I came back down that road 45 minutes later to encounter black ice that turned the car into a bowling ball headed down about a 100'  alley, with a slight left hand spin.  Not good for the car. I didn't beat winter that day, but it set me up to pay attention to my vehicle and road conditions after that.          



September 19th, 2017 at 12:04 PM ^

When I lived in Washington state, one year I flew out of the Vancouver airport to go visit family for Thanksgiving - less than half the price of flying out of Seattle.  Big snowstorm hit the whole area on the drive back, and it took 45 minutes to get through customs, all the while hoping I wouldn't give my rear-wheel drive Mustang too much gas and rear-end someone in line.

Between the border and my place it should've taken about an hour and a half to get home, but it was two hours just to drive the 30 miles through Whatcom County (northernmost in Washington.)  Snow everywhere.  SUVs in ditches.  Literally as soon as I hit the county line, though - wham, the roads are clear.  There's no less snow, it's just that Snohomish County decided it didn't belong on the freeway, which was awfully swell of them.  Whatcom County apparently said fuck it and let everyone fend for themselves.

Sione For Prez

September 19th, 2017 at 12:06 PM ^

I was driving my RWD Dodge Charger on Telegraph very early in the morning on a Saturday after a decent snowstorm. I'm going slowly for obvious reasons. Some little car came flying up on my right, spins out right in front of me and finally comes to a stop in my lane. Somehow I was able to avoid hitting them right in the driver door. Still not sure how I managed it and I don't think it would have been anything major due to the slower speeds but I'll never forget the look of panic in their face.


September 19th, 2017 at 12:10 PM ^

1991 heading east on Mich.ave. just before the Pittsfield copshop and spun out around the turn in fairly deep snow.
Grazed the rear bumper on the telephone pole but was able to drove right up and out no problem.

Lot of great memories in that car.

Wolverine In Iowa 68

September 19th, 2017 at 12:17 PM ^

Yeah, I was styling back in college.  I was working as a floating bank teller and had to drive out to the big booming metropolis of Columbiaville, where you have to cross a narrow two-lane over a lake to get into town.

The ice storm started at about 10 am.  At 3, they told me to go ahead and leave since I had to drive back to Flint.  I walked outside to find that there was more than a quarter of an inch of ice on my car (and I was wearing dress shoes with slick bottoms and no snow gear).  It took me 10 minutes just to chip enough ice away from the door lock to get in and start the car, then another hour to get enough ice scraped off the windows to be able to leave (the rest of the staff was walking out by then and was shocked I was still in town).

The drive home over the lake was horrid, and traffic on I-69 was only moving about 15mph.  Cars that tried to go as fast as 25 ended up in the ditch. 

The drive home took over 3 hours, and I sweat off about 10 lbs.


September 19th, 2017 at 12:18 PM ^

I have a good one...

My son was born the night that Winter Storm Jonas hit our town with 22" of snow.

I drove through 8" of snow to get my wife to the hospital. Our official time of admittance was 11:36 PM, and my son's official time of birth was 11:50 PM.

2003 Mazda Tribute (V6) earned my undying respect that night for powering through it. I don't think I will ever regret spending $500 on snow tires, either.


September 19th, 2017 at 12:19 PM ^

A number of years ago, I was living in Connecticut, but was temporarily transferred to our Denver office. Drove my old VW Beetle cross country. Early September, there was a huge snow storm, dropping 17" in the city. I was catching all kinds of lowlander teasing as we worked through the day, watching the snow piling up outside.

Work ended before the snow plows came through (remember, it was late summer, really, so the road clearing crews weren't even ready for the surprise storm). Driving home that afternoon, I passed a number of my co-workers out in the street digging their "mountain ready" cars out of the drifts. My little rear wheel drive Beetle made easy work of the chore, even without snow tires. Nobody teased me the next day!

Lots of complaints about the Beetle, but it was reliable in snow.


September 19th, 2017 at 12:20 PM ^

The only thing more exciting than sliding backwards in snow in a 40-foot school bus down a narrow road with cars parked on either side is slamming the bus into reverse and hitting the gas to reacquire steerage and navigate your way out without hitting anything.


September 19th, 2017 at 12:32 PM ^

Grew up in northwest Michigan.  Had a 1980 Trans Am...an absolute pig of a car.  A pig that looked like Knight Rider with the black wheel covers.  We'd go "drift bustin" with it....drive her as far out into snow as we could, a friend with a full size GMC four wheel drive would pull me out, rinse repeat.  The engine compartment would get packed full of snow.  Stop for a few mins, all the snow would melt out, keep going.  That car was pretty used up by the time I let her go.

Exit pig TransAm...enter early 80s Ford Escort, the "Racecort".  Blizzard in Traverse City, early AM hours, no one sane driving anywhere.  Did reverse doughnuts everywhere we could think of that would result in imprisonment during normal conditions.  Downtown on Front Street at the intersection where they put up the Christmas tree is one I can remember.

I'm afraid karma is gonna load up on me when my sons get to driving age.


September 19th, 2017 at 12:43 PM ^

sierras.  i had grown up a rear-wheel drive guy in the snow guy like most of you (well, most of the older crowd here) and knew i wanted a 4wd.  we are coming home in a blizzard and i catch up to the CAL-DOT snow plow and am about to pass when a rear-wheel drive grand prix or olds cutlass comes flying by in the passing lane.  i think, 'not smart, especially not in 2 wd in a snow storm'.   

count to about, say, 100.

we round a turn on this twisting, blizzardy highway and there is that grand prix, on it's roof, off the side of the road, with people climbing out of it.   no injuries, other than pride.  love california drivers.  incidentally, that tiny little subaru did just fine in that sierra cement snow.  bought an old 4WD suburban soon after and it was a great rig. 

oh, one other.  coming back to the UP after visiting downstate at Christmas. in the suburban as we get to newberry and it widens to 2 lanes.  is snowing.  dude pulls out right in front of me in a RWD continental and goes into the #1 lane (closest to the middle). okay,  stay in the #2 lane and am about to pass him when he comes back all the way across the road cutting me off (have wife and kids in suburban).  i navigated the suburban off the road, in between the metal sign standards of the mobil gas station, and back onto the road, not hitting anyone/thing.  should've just taken that guy out but didn't.  vowed to never visit downstate again at Christmas.  have kept that vow. 


September 19th, 2017 at 12:48 PM ^

I have some experience with snow in California myself, having been stuck in the San Fernando Valley after work because a couple inches of snow closed every road over the San Gabriel Mountains.

But I will be fair: Early in my time in CA I would quietly mock Californians for the chain restrictions they would establish at higher elevations in snowy conditions. "These fools don't know how to drive in snow," I thought.

Then, on a road trip my wife and I took specifically because we wanted to see some snow in the winter, we travelled into the lower ranges of the Sierra Nevada north of Lake Isabella. We were below the "chains required" line but still in snow on the mountain roads. It was stunningly gorgeous, by the way.

We got to the "chains required" cutoff and dutifully turned around.

And driving downhill, with some snow falling and accumulating, on those winding mountain roads where you could look over the side and see 500 feet straight down, I discovered (safely) why chains were such a good idea. Winding downhill roads aren't at all the same as a wide stretch of I-94, and the penalty for a mistake is a lot more severe than getting stuck in a ditch.

I never made fun of the chain restrictions again.

EDIT: btw, what part of the UP are you in?


September 19th, 2017 at 12:43 PM ^

Last winter I put blizzaks on my ATS-V and took it out in the snow storm we had in early December - about 10 inches of snow. I probably was only going 25-30 mph the whole time but damn if I didn't feel like a rally car driver going sideways through every turn. I thought I was going to get stuck in the snow piles in the turn lane and at the neighborhood entrance but luckily no one was on the road so I gave it one last rally car drift to plow through it. It's almost more fun to drive that car in the snow than in the summer.

The Mad Hatter

September 19th, 2017 at 12:44 PM ^

in elementary - high school.  We used to steal his dad's ancient Toyota Tercel and take it for joy rides.  When we were about 12.  Pat and I learned to drive in that car (4 speed manual IIRC).

One winter afternoon, driving around the neighborhood, we decided that it would be fun to smash head on into a snow bank.

Well it was fun.  So we did that until the front end of the car started to get a little fucked up (that Tercel was built like a tank).  Oddly enough his dad never mentioned the damage to the car.  I think he was just happy to have a pain in the ass son (Pat has 3 much older sisters).

Good times.


oriental andrew

September 19th, 2017 at 12:51 PM ^

December 1995. My sister (senior) and I (soph) were driving home to Atlanta from Ann Arbor (yes, the rare sibling pair from the deep south to both attend Michigan). It was clear sailing until just past Toledo when it started snowing, and not long after until it became a full-blown blizzard. We kept up with the news, which said they were declaring a state of emergency in NW Ohio. After about 3 hours and only having made it to around Lima, we pulled off for gas, coffee, and food. We got stuck in about 6" of snow in the gas station lot and had to get towed out (by the station owner at no charge). We crawled along and finally made it to Cincinnati after 9 hours, where it was a clear, crisp winter day. Our normal 10.5 hour drive ended up taking about 15 hours. 

Found an old weather channel clip


And screen cap of the affected area my sis and I drove through (listed as having received 6"-12" of snow). 


Honorable mention goes to a storm in Chicago sometime late winter of 2000 or 2001 (can't recall). They forecast 12+ inches, so sent us all home by around 1pm. But then a buddy of mine called and wanted to drive up to Wisconsin to go skiing. We got there around 4pm, boarded/skiied until about 8pm, and then started driving back. It was all good until he skidded off the road into a ditch. The car was stuck in huge drift and we couldn't get it out. He called AAA and we waited. and waited. and waited. The guy finally showed up after about 3 hours and apologized b/c it's been such a crazy night. We kept ourselves busy with snowball fights, digging a cave under the car, watching a movie on his laptop with the audio hooked up to his car (old school style - with a cassette tape adapter), and taking goofy pictures (which ended up in his wedding reception slide show). 

Good times....

a different Jason

September 19th, 2017 at 12:48 PM ^

As much as I icefish I have a ton of winter driving stories. I drove through a crazy blizzard a few years ago going from Omaha up I29 bringing people from our church home from a missions trip. That was in a 1999 E350 15 passenger van. Ditches full of snow with cars sprinkled on top. Rest stops were packed with people who were waiting it out.

The Mad Hatter

September 19th, 2017 at 12:55 PM ^

Late 90's.  Massive snow storm overnight (12-14 inches).  I had to be in court the next morning for a traffic ticket.  Luckily, I had a Cherokee at the time and it plowed right through the snow and got me there on time.  Naturally the court was closed due to the storm.

Mid 90's.  Driving my first car home from school.  Right after a midday ice storm that made the world look like a glazed donut.  I almost made it home without incident.  Turning down my street I lost the ability to turn and drove up onto someone's lawn.  Right between two large landscaping rocks.  Once I was on the grass I got a little control back and steered the car back onto the street, this time right between two trees.

I walked back over there to take a look after I parked the car and I was amazed with how I threaded the needle between the rocks and trees.  Maybe 6 inches on either side to spare.


September 19th, 2017 at 2:45 PM ^

The front swaybar started making noise when itw as about 12 years old. My mechanic just removed it. After that the thing articulated wonderfully. There was always one parking spot with a huge mound of snow in it. Cars couldn't park there. But I could because my front axle would just bend over the mound. It was glorious. Still miss that Jeep. 


September 19th, 2017 at 1:06 PM ^

Many years ago I headed south to Florida during the holiday season to escape the Midwest winter. Very much looking forward to some warmth and sunshine ...

It was unseasonably cold everywhere east of the Mississippi. In northern Florida I hit an ice storm. It took eight hours to go forty miles. The two-wheel drive car stayed on the road. I've never seen so many cars off the road.

That trip sucked. The high temperature didn't get up into the 60s until the last couple of days. I was pretty far south, too.


September 19th, 2017 at 1:11 PM ^

When I was in my 20's, I had an Alfa Romeo Spider in downtown Chicago. One wintry day, I was driving down a side street. I applied the brakes and before I knew it, I was spinning. I did a complete 360 without hitting any parked cars in the process. I attribute that to luck and not driving skill. Soon thereafter, I got a Jeep. 


September 19th, 2017 at 1:19 PM ^

There are no snowstorms like Keweenaw snowstorms. Went to Tech for my 2nd degree. Everyone swears by snow tires up there. I had a 4wd Escape with regular tires, thought I'd be fine in anything. Nope.

Normally they run three 8 hour shifts up there for plowing in the winter. But a few times a year they realize they arent keeping up with the snowfall and just give up. It was one of only 2 times in the 3 years I went there they cancelled classes for the rest of the day. By 1 pm, from a previously cleared parking lot, I had to hand shovel a big enough hole to get my car door open. Got halfway up one of the big hills there and then stopped moving, all 4 wheels throwing snow. Had to reverse back down and then hit it again with a head of steam. By the next morning, could just make out the top of my Escape in the driveway.

I miss those winters, you get attached to them.


September 19th, 2017 at 1:22 PM ^

Remember it's important for new drivers to have practice in emergency situations. So of course after hockey practice they would plow half of the rink parking lot. Well, a few of us would drive over to the other half for some very important "practice". I have a distinct memory of one time barreling around through the snow when I thought donuts would be fun. I stopped, put the Jeep into RWD, locked the wheel and popped the clutch. The rear tires dug through some snow... and I slowly plowed straight forward. Needed 4WD to do donuts that night.


September 19th, 2017 at 1:39 PM ^

Not really car related, but I did survive the Boston winter of '15 where we got more that 10 feet of snow in the city in a month. I feel like that is beating winter.


September 19th, 2017 at 1:41 PM ^

I had a 1989 Taurus SHO.  Lots of torque, front wheel drive, and big fat tires that I'd hardly consider to be all-season tires.  I had many "oh shit, I can't stop/steer" incidents with that bad boy.  Somehow, I always seemed to stop just short of disaster each time.  So, like an idiot, I never bought snow tires, I just kept rolling the dice.  My driveway has a pretty good uphill pitch and that car could not get up it if there was a half inch of snow on the ground.  Idiot me would park at the bottom and shovel the damn thing off so I could get in the garage.  I even did back slides down the driveway into the street at times with that car.

Mind you, I've driven through the western Michigan lake effect snowbelt probably hundreds of times and been caught in some really bad storms.  Did that teach me anything?  Evidently not.

Sanity finally prevailed years later when I bought an Audi A4 Quattro and put snow tires on that car in the winter.  No more drama.  I could go anywhere through snow in that car.  I no longer lived in fear of the lake effect snow belt.



September 19th, 2017 at 2:29 PM ^

on '75 after a weekend of fun. I hit a patch of ice while touching the throttle and spun out into the median. In the spin it was like being in a white cloud. Completely surrounded.

When we stopped. I thought we were totally stuck. I kicked it into 4 low and crawled slowly back to the freeway. 

Two guys who had stopped to help cheered us. 



September 19th, 2017 at 2:48 PM ^

I had ridden up to the Alpena area with my dad to stay the weekend in my grandparents' cottage near Posen. We were headed up either M-65 or M-32 (I've forgotten which) behind a snow plow. It was late at night, and very dark; we had not seen another vehicle for about 30 min.

Suddenly, the plow came to a stop, and my dad stopped behind him. The driver came back to my dad's car and told him that we'd have to turn around ... He realized that he'd missed a bend in the road, and had been plowing a lane through a farmer's field for more than a mile.


September 19th, 2017 at 5:30 PM ^

In high school I was driving home in a '66 Chevy 2wd pickup. Had snow tires and weight in the back. The real problem was everyone getting stuck around me. If you stopped you got stuck. There was a car stopped in front of me so I gave it some gas hopped the curb and drove on the lawn of the Michigan sorority that has that big anchor in the front lawn to bypass a stuck car.

Nothing like an anchor in the lawn to make the drive memorable

Benoit Balls

September 19th, 2017 at 10:31 PM ^

I was in undergrad at Bowling Green. Had a wonderful professor who scheduled an exam for 8pm the night before Thanksgiving. I needed the class and it was not offered every semester, so when he pointed out the horribly inconvenient exam time in August, and flat out told us he wouldn't let ANYONE reschedule that exam under any circumstances, I couldn't eject, much as I wanted to.

Day of the exam, everyone knew there was an Alberta Clipper due to come across Lake Erie, and everyone I knew headed east across Ohio got out of town as early as they could. By the time the exam started, I think the only people left on campus were those of us in the class. The weather had steadily gotten worse all evening, and we were even getting a fairly heavy flurry on the West end of the Lake.

Once the exam ended, I got into my 78 Cutlass Supreme and hit the highway. Normally, it was a two hour trip, door to door. By the time I got homea little after 4 unpacked and ate and watched some TV to calm down for a bit. As I was laying in bed drifting off to sleep, I heard my Mom's alarm going off in the next room. It was the ride from hell.

Glad I made it though, my Dad died in April of 99 from a heart attack, so it was our last Thanksgiving together.


September 19th, 2017 at 10:48 PM ^

I was 16 years old driving my rust bucket 1971 Caprice in the snow with some buddies out drinking.  I was driving too fast and on an unfamiliar road that had a 90 degree bend.  I slammed on the brakes and was just sliding straight ahead, no matter how I turned the wheel.  We were all screaming, certain we were heading off the road into the night.

Then I took my foot off the brake, and we made the bend without trouble.  I learned what not to do on snowy, icy roads that night.