Getting Ready For Winter With FWD
Power up front ain’t so badby Jonathan Lopez, on
So the old Scoobaru isn’t in the greatest place at the moment. It’s got a leaking transmission, and while I won’t go into the technical details, it’s gonna need some loving before it’s back to running in tip-top shape. You know, the expensive, time-intensive sort of loving. In all honesty, I’m not totally sure when it’s gonna be back up to snuff, and with the winter months closing in fast, I’m a little nervous. I live high in the mountains of northern California, and while the skiing is great, AWD is really the optimal transportation solution four months out of the year. But when power at all four corners isn’t an option, whatddya do? You work with what you got. Luckily, what I’ve got is a second car – my spouse’s Mazda6. It’s a lovely sedan, great for long trips (especially compared to the loud, brash, harsh Subaru), and it’s a definite smile-maker in the corners. But how will it handle in the snow, and how do I make the most of FWD during the winter months?
These are the questions I’ve been wrestling with as I work on getting the Subaru back online, and luckily, I think I’ve got a few answers. Read on for some tips and tricks for making FWD work in the snow
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The first, biggest, and most important issue to address is choosing the proper tire – the right rubber makes all the difference, whether you’re climbing a mountain, going for pole position, or just getting some groceries, so as soon as the temperature starts to drop, I’m ordering up a fresh set of dedicated ice and snow tires. I’m gonna go studless, as I’ll need the flexibility of driving on dry pavement, and since I’ve had fantastic success with it before, I’m gonna go with Michelin’s X-Ice compound. It worked miracles with the Scooby – very grippy in the white stuff, and fantastic tread wear to boot, so I think I’m gonna go back with the Mazda.
Next up, I’m checking over the coolant to make sure it’s in good condition and will be able to handle freezing temperatures. Windshield wiper fluid with freeze protection is another important item, as is a fresh set of wiper blades – if there’s a ton of grit and mud sprayed on your windshield on the freeway, you’re gonna need to wipe it off quickly and without issue. A thorough tune up doesn’t hurt either – spark plugs, topping off fluids, checking the brake pads, and all those other little things you don’t wanna think about when there’s a few feet of fresh powder on the ground. Finally, keeping a set of snow cables in the trunk is always a good idea, even with snow and ice tires in the corners, as is a set of jumper cables. Basic stuff, I know, but it all becomes much more important when the weather is cold. Throw in a ice scraper and small shovel as well, plus a back-up pair of gloves.
The first, biggest, and most important issue to address is choosing the proper tire – the right rubber makes all the difference, whether you’re climbing a mountain, going for pole position, or just getting some groceries
Of course, there are a few things that can’t be changed without a significant investment. The ride height, for example, is a little low, but I’m not gonna jack up the suspension. But that’s okay – FWD does come with a few inherent benefits. For example, all that weight over the nose will help push the tires into the snow to find a harder pack, and possibly more traction as well.
Anyway, what tips do you have for turning a FWD vehicle into a snowmobile? Let us know in the comments section.
Read our full review on the Mazda6.