Unbelievably poor performance on snow

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by Dolgon, Dec 3, 2008.

  1. NeoPrius

    NeoPrius Member

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    Interesting videos - thanks.

    I drove my 74 Civic that way (snows only on the front) for about 5 winters. I don't recall it doing anything unusual. But I do remember one instance where I did 360 when the (heavy) traffic stopped suddenly on ice. Definitely don't want to go through that again - especially with my new Prius.
     
  2. Fred Wacksman

    Fred Wacksman New Member

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    Which Bridgestone model did you purchase? I'm looking at the 960 Pole Position.
     
  3. Gadgetdad

    Gadgetdad New Member

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    :rockon: Thanks, Jack I think you nailed the problem down.

    Lee
     
  4. wiiawiwb

    wiiawiwb Junior Member

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    I live in upstate NY and now drive an '08 Prius (previously owned a '05 Prius). IMO, the '05 was a dangerous vehicle in the winter.

    The '08 is much better but it takes practice. My normal reaction when tires began to spin is to hit the gas so it will tear through snow or ice it is spinning on. Bad. In RWD or FWD vehicles my reactions were immediate and usually got me through a problem. Now, I have think my way through which isn't good.

    Having said that, I bought 4 Nokian Hakkepeliitta R which are awesome snow tires. So far, they sneer at the snow. It's allowed me to feel less anxious about hills in the winter. On Saturday, I went hiking and had to drive on an access road that was a sheet of ice with sand on top. I made it up a 400' climb on that road. That would never have happened if starting from a stop.

    I would highly recommend getting the best snow tires you can afford and would recommend the Haks.
     
  5. Dolgon

    Dolgon New Member

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    Another update from the original poster:

    1) I took the car by the dealer, and as expected it checked out fine. As others said, I think that Jack nailed it. The car does great in snow if you are already moving or if the terrain is flat. If you find yourself needing to go slowly up a hill, or worse start from a stop on that hill, and you will find yourself in a very scary position and potentially dangerous situation. The car simply won't do it.

    2) We had another snow last night so my wife and I went out to practice getting up our driveway. Again, I cleared the driveway in the morning and it was 99% clear and dry by this evening. After driving down our snowy street the tires (Bridgestones - I have an 08 touring) picked up enough snow to cause the traction light to come on and bring us to a stop soon after pulling onto my dry and clear driveway. We spent 15 minutes trying over and over and I began to worry that the car would have to stay out on the street and fend off the snowplows overnight. I finally re-cleared the drive of the snow that had been brought onto it by the first attempts, and put down about $4.00 worth of snowmelt/traction stuff. With a running start I finally got the car back into its garage.

    It seems we are now destined for dedicated snow tires. My concern is that my driveway may be enough to cause even snow tires to lose traction. In that case we are stuck with the equivalent of one car for much of the winter as the Prius will have to stay home. I have to say I'm having some serious buyers remorse currently.

    I'll try to get a video of the fun up on the web in the next few days.
     
  6. morpheusx

    morpheusx Professor Chaos

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    keep us informed on the difference the snow tires make. A great resource for tire research whether you buy your tires from them or not is tirerack.com.
     
  7. patsparks

    patsparks An Aussie perspective

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    Small throttle inputs.
     
  8. Macomb

    Macomb Junior Member

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    Hello again Dolgon. I see there is yet another 'vote' for Nokian Hakkepeliitta Rs. This is an update to my post #37. I too have a long driveway that has a slope downward toward my house along with a sharp curve to the left. In the past it has been difficult for many cars to negotiate in winter snow/ice conditions even though I have a snow removal contract. Last year with one storm of freezing rain I couldn't get my Prius out of the driveway to go to work--a problem! Other than that I was able to drive in all snow. This year I purchased the Rs but we had snow before I got them mounted. The performance of my stock Integrities (34,000 mi.) was poor--just too much tread wear. I've now had the Rs on for a month and we've had snow and icy conditions including the dreaded black ice. The Rs have passed through it all with no problem--only once did the Traction Control light come on whereas last year it flashed frequently. The tread design of the Rs dumps snow very quickly thus the tires do not lose their ability to bite into the snow. The aggressive siping 'pumps' the thin layer of water which contributes to the slipperiness of ice out from between the tread and the ice surface. I am amazed at how much control I've regained in driving with the Nokian Hakkepeliitta Rs. Anyone considering snow tires should think about buying these tires. They are an excellent value!
     
  9. Dolgon

    Dolgon New Member

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    My username needed one more post before being allowed to post the video of my driveway attempt - Please ignore.
     
  10. Dolgon

    Dolgon New Member

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    As promised, here is the video I took this morning of my Prius trying to get up my driveway.



    As you can see in the video, following the failed running start attempt I tried another method suggested in the forum of using a very light touch on the gas to inch up the driveway. That also unfortunately failed.
     
  11. Turbogizzmo

    Turbogizzmo New Member

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    More speed? :) Pick a different line when going up?

    Wish I had time to play around here in Colorado, guess its good the parking garage ramps are kept clear because the incline is steeper than that...
     
  12. nerfer

    nerfer A young senior member

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    Well, I finally had problems on the ice today. As you recall, I have previously had nothing to complain about, even purposefully testing it on snowy hills and stopping halfway up. (With effort I could make it fail to go uphill, but not unexpectedly or unusually).

    Today I drove to the doctor's office, so I first went south. I noticed on one nearby hill that the police had parked in the northbound lane, forcing that traffic into the center (it's 3 lanes wide at that point with the upcoming turn lane), presumably because of icy conditions. It was a bad morning drive, with lots of ice and frozen slush around - Illinois is low on road salt, so they're trying to go sparingly on that, and we had a good snowstorm yesterday.

    So I go to the doctor's office and come back. The police car is gone, I've forgotten all about that condition (my 25-minute trip took an hour, so it was just one footnote among the other slowdowns and the occasional car in the ditch). The light at the top of the hill turns red, I stop, nothing unusual. Light turns green, car in front of me moves, I don't. I'm sitting there spinning, turns out I must've been on a sheet of ice. But I don't slide downhill either. My first instinct is to back down a bit and try it again from another spot, but the car behind is to close. I turn the wheels a bit to the left and right, but it doesn't seem to help. Speedometer varies between 1 and 10 mph, so I know it's spinning, but not real fast or at least not continuously. Pretty soon a policeman stops in the other lane, he sees my situation. We roll down windows and he tells me to turn the wheels all the way to the left (I was avoiding turning them too far in case they suddenly grab, then you lurch into another lane, and after moving them back and forth a bit, I wasn't entirely sure where straight ahead was unless I poked my head out the window to look at the tires...it hadn't been too long, but with cars behind me I wasn't taking my time and thinking it thru real carefully). So anyway, I turn all the way to the left, where the road was clearer, spin for a few more seconds, then my tires grab some dry road and I easily take off. By now the light's turned red again, but now I'm at the top of the hill and the road is fine.

    This was a helpless feeling, when the other cars went and I just didn't move. But I was probably a little farther to the right, and just happened to be all on ice, facing uphill from a dead stop. Since the police had earlier blocked off that lane (and other people at work commented on that hill also) I don't think my Prius was doing anything terribly unusual. I would have like to test it out a little more and see what the full situation was and how best to get out of it, but that road has too much traffic for that.

    This is the start of my 3rd winter with the car and the only real incident so far, and I was able to drive out of it...eventually. But definitely nerve wracking at the time. I have 26K miles on my OEM Integrities, they still have pretty good tread left, but definitely not a new tire.
     
  13. nerfer

    nerfer A young senior member

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    For some reason, I can't see the video a second time, but I noticed you stayed in the same section of the driveway. I'd recommend trying to go left or right of your original tracks, since you obviously do get some movement on each attempt.

    In any case, you're getting well off the street, even if you park the Prius outside on the driveway, it's not in any danger of snowplows.
     
  14. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    You haven't lived until you've come all the way down a snowy 1/4 mile hill backwards because your old Malibu couldn't clear the steepest slope at the military crest. I was 17 and had so little traction that despite various efforts to make a controlled descent the tires could only slow me slightly. The car skidded backward another 1/8th mile on the flat after reaching the bottom. Somehow I kept it out of the ditch--perhaps because I had a lot of experience sledding down that hill so the car was simply a large sled with the steering on the wrong end at that point. I drove the 1/8th mile back to our drive, parked the car and skipped school that day (buses were running snow routes and weren't an option...which was why I was trying to drive it.)
     
  15. patsparks

    patsparks An Aussie perspective

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    I don't even know what snow looks like up close so please feel free to ignore me on this.
    Where I live, South Australia that is there are areas with only unsealed roads or graded tracks. If I lived in these places I would keep dirt road tyres on my car so I would think if a person lives in snow for half a year a set of snow tyres would be a good idea. Also that driveway looks very slick, would it be possible to sand blast it or seal it with silica in the sealer to add grip to the surface? My driveway is almost flat, we have no snow and almost as little rain but I made sure my driveway had a textured surface when it was laid.
     
  16. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    With my Prius, if I had on the "all season" tires, it would have stopped probably half a car length before yours. At least your Prius allows minor wheelspin, mine doesn't

    Having learned to drive in winter conditions, I'm well aware of what it takes to keep moving in snowy or icy uphill sections. My first winter with my Prius, it came to a stop at the Bishop/Waverly intersection, and simply refused to move. Other cars were moving with minor wheelspin, keeping up momentum

    Maybe when I get back I should think of a roadtrip. Folks in MN are not allowed studded tires, but visitors to your fair state ARE allowed to use studded tires. Bwaa haaa haaa! I have had no problems going up steeper grades at icy parking ramps, as long as I have my studded tires on

    On glare ice, my Prius with studded tires has *better* traction than my FJ Cruiser with the studless Toyo Open Country G-02 Plus winter tires. The Toyo's are very good studless winter tires, but they do *not* provide the same ice traction as studded tires. Despite the claims and advertising suggesting so

    As a temporary fix, get a bag of that light playground sand. It will make one hell of a mess on your driveway, but will allow you to make it up. As an experiment, you can just put the sand under one of the front wheels to prove the Prius cannot apply the brake to the spinning wheel, to transfer torque.

    That's one trick my FJ *can* do, and it really makes a difference. Like a lot of streets in winter, the curbside is glare ice, the center is sanded or clear. It will apply the brake to the spinning wheel, and you drive away without any fuss

    For those who feel I have an unfair advantage with my FJ, keep one thing in mind: I never, EVER operate in 4H on streets or roads. When you shift an FJ into 4H or 4L, you disable the VSC. No thank you!
     
  17. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    I have always maintained that anybody who operates a vehicle in "real" winter conditions, eg where I live, is a fool unless they use "real" winter tires. Preferably studded winter tires, my Prius has a clear advantage on glare ice

    I took a few photos last winter of my FJ on the turnoff to my hobby farm. I'll take more photos when I return, hopefully we will have plenty of snow and you can see how my FJ looks in half a metre of snow.

    You will notice for winter, my FJ has ugly steel wheels and the Toyo winter tires. You will also notice I have most of the grille blocked off to improve heater performance at temps of -20 C and colder, down to -40 C. The black plug out the lower grille is the electric engine heater

    Oh, we went down to -25 C last night. I really have to arrange for you to visit me in January. Hehehehehe.
     

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  18. morpheusx

    morpheusx Professor Chaos

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    Your story is similar to mine but last year for me. I was happy with the Integrities initially, I keep saying they take a drastic turn for the worse at 20,000 miles, Mine actually had noticeable less traction at exactly 24,000 miles mid season last year even though I still had 50 % tread on them.
     
  19. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    Traction isn't simply a function of tread depth. The rubber composition is different as you work through the tread, and age doesn't help rubber either.

    Tom
     
  20. Buckland

    Buckland New Member

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    hey Dolgon, I empathize! I had the same problem at my cottage with wet leaves on the driveway. Even when I swept them off the dampness caused the tires to lose traction and stop. More frightening though was when I needed to make a rather speedy left turn off a busy highway. The car accelerated beautifully, but midway through the turn the left front wheel spun momentarily and the car just suddenly stopped accelerating. My heart skipped a beat then the car gained traction again and I made it through the turn. In future I will give myself plenty of time to make turns. As for slippery slopes, the jury is still out.

    Buck.
     
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