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Winter Off-Road: Tips for Driving a Crossover in Deep Snow

Water in the same state of aggregation can take different forms and types: powder, firn, ice, fluff, sleet, crust, drift, flakes, and avalanche. And each form matters when it comes to winter driving and the choice of tires.

Unlike a water obstacle, manufacturers do not indicate such a parameter as the depth because snow is not homogeneous. It is slippery, soft, heavy, and it hides obstacles. The only positive property of snow is that it always has a bottom, unlike swamp, salt marsh, or sand. Today, the experienced off-roaders and SUV connoisseurs from Indy Auto Man share hands-on tips on how to deal with a challenging winter landscape on a crossover.

Wild Lands for a City Dweller

The vast fields and meadows of Indiana, inaccessible to owners of crossovers most of the year, open up their treacherous embrace in winter. And so, the proud pilots of city crossovers confidently turn onto virgin soil and hang tightly on their undertray right by the road. Snow covers holes and ditches and smooths out hummocks and parapets. And the further, the more. Off-road driving in winter requires the same skills as in summer, but one needs to act even more carefully. The main rules are ascents with acceleration, descents with minimum speed, track with emphasis, and parapet near the road diagonally and slowly.

Path to Salvation

A big shovel is the first and foremost lifesaver. The second thing will be the choice of rescue trajectory. A car stuck in the snow will never move towards the rise; it will be much easier to follow its tracks. Move forward in rocking, digging out as much snow as possible in front of the bumper. If you are driving one of the best SUVs for snow with all-terrain tires, you may deal with it with less effort. A crossover, even an advanced AWD one, requires a special approach and proficiency.

Speed: Friend or Foe?

In winter, the idea that off-road driving is a struggle between inertia and clutch demonstrates itself best. Except for one case — you were slipping with a sharp decrease in speed. That is, you were traveling, there was snow in all directions, and suddenly the car almost stopped. It can still move by inertia, but if you try to give it gas, hoping for the traction control system, blocking, or expecting like-in-the-summer behavior, then that’s all — only a shovel will help. But if you have time to release the gas or, better yet, squeeze the clutch, you will certainly be saved.

Control and Patience

On a manual transmission, with the help of a clutch, you can swing in short jerks, and then the most careful pressing of the gas pedal of a car with automatics will lead to slipping. But there is still a way. It requires patience and is called the traction control method. The technique is simple: with your left foot, hold the brake pedal down. Using the gas pedal, raise the speed to 1500-2000 rmp with your right foot and sharply release the brake. Immediately, but not simultaneously, with an interval of half a second, release the gas pedal. If the terrain is flat, we start by moving backward, following our steps, without changing the steering wheel position or placing the wheels on the track. Jump back — stop — jerk forward. In this way, you will most likely be able to move the car and, most importantly, create a slightly tighter track for yourself.

If the wheel does not spin, then it does not slip. Based on this simple principle, a driver can overcome snow of any depth with acceleration until the wheels begin to slip. Accelerate on the hard surface, and when the wheels touch the snow, release the gas pedal. The wheel rolls over the track by inertia, compacting the snow. Roll back and repeat the cycle.

These are extra measures for unexpected snowy off-road. But in general, a driver should always estimate the risks before a trip, and if the lifestyle supposes driving in the wild, it is worth choosing a 4×4 SUV and preparing it in advance. What can help you in winter are tire chains, shovels, and small plastic ladders. And also, a thermos with tea or a burner, a pot and water, waterproof shoes, a pair of blankets, and huge mittens.

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