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How to drive on icy roads

4-Wheel drive does not help you drive on icy roads. All vehicles have 4-wheel brakes. How to use that to your best advantage.

Even when there’s no snow, winter weather can be dangerous, especially on the roads. We’re talking about black ice, and if you’ve ever encountered it, you know how scary it can be. Consumer Reports has some life-saving advice that every driver needs to hear.

Black ice is moisture that freezes when temperatures drop, blending into the asphalt, often invisible to motorists.

“If there was ever a time that slow and steady wins the race applies, it’s in this case where you have the potential to lose traction,” said Jennifer Stickburger, Consumer Reports

Everything in slick conditions takes longer so leave yourself that room. It not only gives you that room, but it protects you from other drivers that may not be driving appropriately.

Think your 4-wheel or all-wheel drive will help on black ice? Think again. All vehicles have 4-wheel brakes and it’s your car’s anti-lock brakes that can help you safely stop and regain control.

You’ll know they are working when they start to pulse against your foot, do not remove your foot from the brake-- maintain firm pressure on the pedal and let them do their job.

And if your car does begin to slide out of control, here’s the best way to regain control.

“There are really two kinds of skids, OVERSTEER, and UNDERSTEER. In both cases, the reaction should be to turn in the direction you want the car to go. With oversteer, it’s very intuitive. You turn into the skid and when you gain grip you end up going where you want to go. In understeer, you’re turning, but the car is going straight ahead and your gut is to want to dial in more steering. Don’t do that,” said Stockburger.

Keep the wheel steady where you’re headed so that when you gain grip, you are going where you want to be. In both cases, avoid abrupt motions!

Easy on the brakes and easy on the throttle until you gain control! And remember to ALWAYS buckle up.

And take note of that little snowflake icon on your dashboard! It’s a warning light controlled by a temperature sensor near the front bumper, to warn the driver when temperatures drop and that there is the potential for ice on the road. It’s a good reminder to slow down and be careful.


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