Airing Down for Snow and Ice Driving (1 Viewer)

ArmyFJ

Lookin’ for mud in all the wrong places.
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I always air down for deep powder (4 ft or so, I will go to 6 PSI) but I know its not the same as driving on the roads. Not that I am trying to race down any snowy/icy roads but I wonder what the thoughts are from the mid west (and other snow experienced people) about airing down for ice and snow mix on roads. Does it do any good?
 
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Joined
Jun 9, 2006
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Central WA
I would like to know peoples thoughts on this too. I will be making a trip from IA to UT this friday and the temps look like they will definitely be below freezing which=black ice.

It sounds like you will be doing more slow speed driving though.

I usually run ~40PSI in my cooper SST's but I would like to run 45PSI on long freeway road trips. However I don't think that would be safe in icy conditions.

In fact I may air them down to 35PSI because I read in an old fourwheeler magazine that it is better to have a lower psi which would yield a slightly larger contact surface with the road.

Any thoughts from the ice guru's?
 
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Pasa Bernardino, California
I've driven through two winters in rural Quebec, Canada, a couple more in Utah and in the mountains around Southern California.

Low psi is probably fine for un-plowed trails, but in many circumstances, in winter road driving you want a smaller contact area. You want the weight of the vehicle in a small space. Otherwise those large contact areas will act like skis.

My best winter (street) driving experiences were when I had a little Fiat Spider with studded snow tires. As long a the snow was not too deep, I could drive anywhere.

In the winter I always carry chains and a tow strap in my truck. One of the scariest feelings is driving down an icy road and realize that you have lost all control of your vehicle. I hate to put on chains but sometimes it's the only safe way to go. Every winter I use the tow strap several times to pull out people that go up to the mountains for a day in the snow.

I'm in the market for new snow chains for my larger tires. I'm considering the RUD grip chains.
RUD Grip 4x4 chains - Google Video
 

NLXTACY

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The key is speed and a sharp eye. Black ice is not invisible and you also need to know where to look for (i.e overpasses, bridges). Go slow. If you are driving too fast on iced up roads, without studs, it wont matter how well you drive or how may tires are on the ground, you WILL slide.

Go slow, know what to look for, carry chains!!

Been through nasty Utah weather, Whistler blizzard and MANY California storms.
 
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Prescott Valley, AZ
I live in Prescott Valley, Arizona. As in most of AZ, the weather is perverse. We are at the dividing line between rain and snow. In Arizona, it is all about altitude. If you are low, you get rain. Up here we get snow. We had steady snow-fall all afternoon. That is rare here. We don't often see snow in daylight hours. It usually starts at nightfall.
But today the snow turned to rain at night. When the sun went down, the snow turned to rain. Now at midnight we have seen rain since sunset, and the temp has risen 20 degrees in that time.
Again, perversely, we will see most streets turn into skating rinks by morning. Even our gravel driveway will not be very driveable! My wife will have a hard time breaking her tires out of the ice, not to mention scraping 1/2 inch of it off of the windows!
We chose our home at an altitude where snow is rarely an issue. But ice may be a problem.
The current temp is 31, and it is raining. This could be be less than good!
The roads are wet, and so are the cars. Anybody have any ice skates? The roads are not very useable, and we need excercise!
 
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Minneapolis, MN
In my experience, more narrow tires tend to work more effectively in the snow. They cut through the snow down to the pavement where they can grip. I've had a couple sets of wider mud tires on two different trucks (4runner and my 80) and I'm convinced that the more narrow and less aggressive street truck tires handle better on the snow covered pavement. I agree that the wider tires act as skis or snowshoes and keep you away from the pavement rather than in contact with it. I would say airing down is a poor way of gaining traction on snow covered roads.

If you're going to be driving on it either way, just take it slow and don't push the limits of the road or your vehicle.
 

ArmyFJ

Lookin’ for mud in all the wrong places.
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Interesting. Thanks very much.
 
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were i live outside littlerock, today every street is covered w/ solid ice, its supposed to sleet all night again, i just drive slower in a straight line and faster in the corners when no ones around its kinda fun. a bit harder to slow down though.
 
Joined
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Dallas TX
Same Down here in Texas...Damn We Texans just dont know how to drive! Had a guy in a Mazda 3 the Fast n Furious drive or "fly" past me last night on an icy bridge, plow straight into the median. He deserve it! I drop mine to 30 psi last night.
 
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I spent 15 years or so driving in the ice and snow of northern Indiana and never heard of dropping air pressure in tires for better control. Even worked for Firestone for a couple of years and never heard that suggested. That doesnt mean it's not a good idea just that I never heard of it. :)

Best to drive slow, brake way in advance, brake while in straight line before turning not in the turn and watch the icy overpasses. Snow is usually not a problem as much as the ice is underneath it.

Drive safe!:steer:
 
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elkcreek canyon colorado
I have lived in the mtns of colorado for many years, it all comes down to the right tire for the conditions and driving ability. I have a 2WD! ext. cab toyota that I drive to denver year around, Unless it is over 1' deep on the road (hardly ever) It puts my cruisers (40' 60's and 80's even my 4x cummins) to shame stablility-wise at speeds over 45mph on a packed icy hiway, getting stopped on a very steep grade is another story! Tall skinny studded blizzaks cant be beat, I run my truck at 28-32 PSI and a 80 series would be best around 35psi, like mentioned above, you dont want the tire to "firm" but you dont want to widen the contact patch too much either. The stock LTX's on 80's perform better than just about anything aside from a dedicated snow tire.
 

ArmyFJ

Lookin’ for mud in all the wrong places.
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I noticed a big difference last year on packed snow roads when I dropped my Goodyear Silent Armors from 45 PSI to about 30 PSI. It the higher pressure they were *really* slick.
 

alia176

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When it comes to chains on our AWD 80s where should you put the chains? The front right?

I recommend chaining up the rear due to:

- the rear wheels do two things: stop and go.
-front wheels do triple duty of steering, stop and go. A loose chain here can do damage to brake lines and other components.
-on icy road, if the fronts grab while decelling, the rear end may come around :eek:

For emergency hwy ice/snow driving, I recommend getting chains that have links that run in the center from front to back vs only left to right. This provides a smoother hwy ride. The Rud grip chains is a good example of a smoother hwy ride.

Oh yeah, if you do get a set of chains, practice installing them on the comfort of your driveway before setting loose on the hwy! Some stores will refund money for unused chains in the spring.

Good luck.
 
Joined
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I noticed a big difference last year on packed snow roads when I dropped my Goodyear Silent Armors from 45 PSI to about 30 PSI. It the higher pressure they were *really* slick.

I normally run my Nitto TG's (315's) at around 40psi on the highway (trying to get all of the power/mileage I can out of the 80). That makes them pretty hard. I knew we were getting some snow this week, so I dropped the front down to 32 and the rears down to 34. Made the ride much better and my wife, who has been driving it, commented that it felt like it was stuck to the road and didn't feel it slip or slide at all.

So IMHO, nothing wrong with letting a little air out for winter driving. Keep it within reason. Depends on what pressure you are running for dry weather. If you are running 40+ like me, then maybe a little less might make all of the difference.

Jack
 
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I have found that running near factory recommended PSI provides the best winter traction for the tires I have run on my 80. There is no reason to air down, as in offroad use airing down, for road traction, and the softer sidewall would probably become a handling detriment - I don't think you want to create a lot of extra movement in the tire itself in slick conditions.

Only air down for the deep stuff if you are trying to stay on top of it.
 
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Spring Lake, MI
Same here....I think there is a wall you hit when airing down tires when they go from adding traction to becoming dangerous. I drive on all sorts of roads at all sorts of altitudes here in Colorado and I havent had a problem yet. I keep mine between 32 and 35 in the winter. As for narrow tires, I think the logic is right, but for those of us that dont switch out our tires to winter tires, airing down does benefit...unless of course your on ice.
 

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