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Snow Driving Tips

Driving in the snow is not difficult, however it does require some adjustment to normal driving styles to allow for the reduced levels of traction and climate. Here are a few tips to make it easier.

Preparation

  • It is mandatory by law to carry chains when driving on the mountain during the ski season (meaning potential fines if you don't) and they must be fitted at the "Fit Chains Here" sign. At peak times there are chain fitting services available for a nominal fee.
  • Change coolant and increase the amount of anti-freeze, particularly if vehicle will be left parked overnight in alpine areas. Most modern vehicles will have anti-freeze, however it's worth a phone call to your service centre to check.
  • A little methylated spirits in the windscreen washer bottle will prevent water freezing overnight.
  • Check all tyres have good tread, including the spare. Bald tyres and icy roads are a combination waiting for a crash.
  • Keep some comfortable clothing in your car for your trip home. Don't drive in damp or wet foot wear - driving in your socks is better than driving in heavy wet shoes.
  • If you or your travelling companions have difficulties with your ears with the change in altitude, it's a good idea to have some gum to chew or lollies to suck on.

Snow Driving

  • Where possible drive during daylight hours.
  • Do not drive unless visibility is good enough to see the next snow pole on the edge of the road.
  • In poor visibility situations, use your vehicles fog/driving lights if fitted, with parking lights only; ie. without headlights as these tend to cause a 'white-out' effect. If your vehicle does not have driving lights then headlights on are best.
  • Travel slowly on snow or ice, braking gently and early. Avoid braking when cornering.
  • Keep well behind the vehicle in front, at least twice the normal distance.
  • Loose snow chains can cause severe damage to bodywork, suspension or brake lines. Always re-check tension after driving vehicle 20 metres.
  • Keep skis and stocks on the roof - try to avoid having loose items in the cabin of the vehicle, as they can become internal missiles in a crash.

Parking in the snow

  • Only park in designated areas. The snow clearing equipment (graders and snow blowers) may not realise that a pile of snow contains a car if it is parked in a spot where it is not supposed to be.
  • Always park as close to the bank as possible, to leave room for two-way traffic.
  • Leave your handbrake OFF - moisture around the handbrake cable can freeze solid, as can the brake linings.
  • Leave the car in gear with the front wheels turned away from the slope. You can also use a chock under a wheel as added precaution, however do not use a rock as these may cause damage later with snow clearing.
  • Leave your windscreen wipers up off the windscreen (avoids them freezing to the glass). Alternatively a small block of wood underneath the blade can prevent this damage.
  • Even if chains were not required to enter the area, it is advisable to fit them when parking. It is much easier than trying to fit them later for the return trip if weather conditions change or the vehicle is snowbound.
  • Cover door locks with masking tape to stop locks freezing up.
  • If you have room, carry a shovel! The lodge has two shovels for digging the car out, however these become popular if leaving at a busy time.

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