Few Motorists Are Aware of This Small Button That Simplifies Driving in Snow

Written by Henrik Rothen

Dec.14 - 2023 4:41 PM CET

Autos
Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com
Few Motorists Are Aware of This Small Button That Simplifies Driving in Snow.

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Increasingly, cars are being equipped with a highly useful feature for driving in snow, but it's essential to know how to use it.

When a few snowflakes fall, chaos often ensues on the roads, especially in big cities. While mountain dwellers, accustomed to such conditions and equipped accordingly, might find this amusing, for many, navigating icy roads remains a challenge. Although snow chains are highly recommended for driving in certain countries during winter, more and more cars now offer driving assistance for slippery roads.

This function is reserved for models with automatic transmission, and it's not by chance.

Automatic transmissions, slowly replacing traditional manual ones, are less suited for snow driving.

Experts agree that gentleness is key to driving on snowy roads. It's advised to start in second gear with a low engine speed to prevent wheel spinning and skidding. This option, available in manual transmissions at the driver's discretion, wasn't possible in automatic vehicles until a few years ago.

Car manufacturers have introduced a "snow" driving mode alongside the traditional "eco," "comfort," and "sport" modes.

This mode, activated by a button or selected with a dial often placed on the automatic transmission's gear selector, helps facilitate driving on icy roads. The symbol for this mode varies among manufacturers: a snowflake for Volkswagen, a snowflake next to a car for Peugeot, and a snowflake with a car above the word "Snow" for Hyundai.

Simply pressing this button or setting the dial to the symbol engages the "snow" mode.

What does this change in driving? The "snow" mode starts the car in second gear, reducing engine power and preventing wheel spin on icy patches.

It also adjusts transmission settings between gears with the lowest possible engine speed for more gradual acceleration. The goal is to avoid sudden accelerations, which can lead to uncontrollable sliding on icy roads.

While this recent technology is helpful in snowy conditions, it's still highly advisable to properly equip your vehicle if you frequently travel on snowy roads.

Using all-season or winter tires, which are better suited for winter conditions, is strongly recommended to increase wheel traction on slippery surfaces. Snow chains remain the best option, even though installing them remains a mystery for many drivers.

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