Here’s looking at you, skid

I have long believed that properly winterizing a car meant shipping it to somewhere around San Diego and then retrieving it after Winter Wrap-Up. We’ve had iced-over residential streets since early Thursday, and, well, there’s only so much you can do about it, and by “so much” is meant “basically squat”:

When the surface goes as frictionless as a Physics 101 thought experiment, anti-lock brakes just ensure you’ll slide sideways into the middle of the intersection with all four wheels turning instead of locked up tight.

This outcome is, I need hardly tell you, sub-optimal.

Oh, traction control, you say? What do you think happens when you divide by zero?


  1. Brian J. »

    10 December 2013 · 10:33 am

    My Highlander has a bonus feature that, when you’re skidding, it sounds an alarm and flashes a light on the dashboard.

    Because that will help your peace of mind when you’re out of control.

  2. Kirk »

    10 December 2013 · 12:19 pm

    When I was a kid growing up in Colorado, we used to laugh at the 4-wheel drive vehicles that blazed past everyone in the snow, knowing that while they might be able to get going better, they weren’t going to have any better luck stopping than the rest of us.

  3. CGHill »

    10 December 2013 · 1:26 pm

    They still evoke mirth, for much the same reason.

    Last RWD car I had, many moons ago, actually had a set of studded tires. Seems like overkill in this town, until you discover that you need it.

  4. Jeffro »

    10 December 2013 · 7:29 pm

    Sliding into an intersection is when I really prefer a manual – sure seems to offer finer control of the rears (on a RWD vehicle).

  5. CGHill »

    10 December 2013 · 9:19 pm

    To the extent that there’s any control at all.

    I remember a snowy day on the east side when I apparently did exactly the wrong thing crossing a small bridge and did 180 … 360 … 540.

    As I got turned back around, my passenger applauded. “Do that again!” Gallows humor is good for the soul.

  6. fillyjonk »

    11 December 2013 · 8:09 am

    My dad never gave me much car buying advice, but “Avoid rear-wheel drive” was one piece of it.

    Based on how I navigated (in my front-wheel drive) vs. some of the neighbors, I think that advice was solid.

    I remember doing a 180 on an icy street in a Toyota Previa (many moons ago – this was in Illinois). My mom was driving. We spun slowly, came to a stop, looked at each other, she said “You okay?” I said “Yeah, you okay?” and she said “Yeah” and then we figured out how to get the thing turned back around.

  7. CGHill »

    11 December 2013 · 10:44 am

    What was great about the Previa was that its axis of rotation came right up through the driver’s seat.

  8. fillyjonk »

    11 December 2013 · 12:59 pm

    That actually explains a lot of the stuff I experienced in that car. (It was the one I used for all my dissertation fieldwork….from Alton, Illinois to Freeport, Illinois, to nearly the Indiana border, and everywhere inbetween)

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