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#1 (permalink) Old 10-16-2011, 01:00 PM
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Lower gears on snowy roads

I have a 2009 Titan and have never driven on icy or snowy roads before. Should I drive using the 1st and 2nd gear on icy or snowy roads? Is 40mph the maximum speed while using these gears?? And do I need to put extra weight in the bed or is the truck heavy enough to keep it from sliding???
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#2 (permalink) Old 10-16-2011, 01:22 PM
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Re: Lower gears on snowy roads

Just drive with the selector in D and be easy on the gas pedal. Speed and attention are the most important things. downshift if necessary to help in deceleration. running in gear 1 or 2 will cook your trans eventually....especially at 40mph.

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#3 (permalink) Old 10-16-2011, 01:22 PM
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Re: Lower gears on snowy roads

All you need to do is drive slow and carefully & Some weight in the bed never hurts but its not required.

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#4 (permalink) Old 10-16-2011, 01:25 PM
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Re: Lower gears on snowy roads

A couple or 300lbs should be sufficient. Im from Indy originally, not san diego(snow, what is that?) btw.

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#5 (permalink) Old 10-16-2011, 01:33 PM
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Re: Lower gears on snowy roads

every winter i would put a few sand bags right across the rear axel, 6-7 bags or so. It made a huge difference starting off from a stop in 2wd. i would reccomend putting some in your box!

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#6 (permalink) Old 10-16-2011, 01:57 PM
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Re: Lower gears on snowy roads

I usually put about 300lbs of sand in the back, just take it slower and very easy on the throttle and brakes. Keep the truck in regular OD. My truck is only 2wd, but I've taken it through a foot of snow and been on some pretty icy stuff without issue.

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#7 (permalink) Old 10-16-2011, 02:57 PM
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I am in Atlanta and we hardly ever have a "major" event. Last year was the first time my 4wd Titan experienced snow and ice. Mostly ice. I saw alot of people sliding around and crashing but I never had an issue. I drove with intelligence and when it was just a sheet of ice on the highway I would slip it in 4 hi and was good to go. I actually ended up helping a few people get their cars and trucks back on the road. One was a new 4wd tundra. I need to find the pic of me pulling him out of a ditch.
The lesson is drive slow and leave plenty of room to screw up and you should be fine. I have virtually no ice experience other than that.
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#8 (permalink) Old 10-16-2011, 06:00 PM
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Re: Lower gears on snowy roads

If you are driving on flat roads, you can keep it in D and just take it easy, shifting in and out of 2/4HI as necessary (I'm assuming you have a 4WD?). If you are going to be descending hills that are full of ice & snow, you should be in a low manual gear - first or second. The idea is to allow engine braking to keep your vehicle from picking up too much speed so that you have to use too much brake, which will send you skidding and sliding. If the Titan was a true manual (I live in the mountains, have driven standards all my life and prefer them for this reason), in 4wd 1st you'd be held to about 15mph or so; because it's an automatic it'll climb a little faster than that, but will still keep you at about 20/25mph max. If I am dropping down serious bad hills, I'll be in 4WD Lo anyway; then, in first gear, you're talking about applied gearing in the front diff that will keep you at about 5mph max. With good tires that should get you through the worst of anything - if it won't, you shouldn't be driving in it anyway).
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#9 (permalink) Old 10-16-2011, 06:53 PM
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Re: Lower gears on snowy roads

Going downhill on icy/snowy roads I would definitely NOT run the transmission in the lower gears. Should you hit a spot that is more slick than others then the rear end will lose traction and if you have the VDC system it may not understand what to do to correct the loss of traction. Keep the vehicle in drive and use your brakes. That way you are using all four tires to slow down instead of only one tire (the passenger rear). Trust me, I've tried using the lower gears here on Colorado mountain roads and it is a quick way to completely lose control of the vehicle.

If your vehicle has the ABLS feature then when accelerating it will apply the ABS to the wheel that is spinning and it will also lower the throttle to the engine. So keep it in drive and let the Titan do it's thing.

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#10 (permalink) Old 10-16-2011, 08:19 PM
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Re: Lower gears on snowy roads

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Originally Posted by HRTKD View Post
Going downhill on icy/snowy roads I would definitely NOT run the transmission in the lower gears. Should you hit a spot that is more slick than others then the rear end will lose traction and if you have the VDC system it may not understand what to do to correct the loss of traction. Keep the vehicle in drive and use your brakes. That way you are using all four tires to slow down instead of only one tire (the passenger rear). Trust me, I've tried using the lower gears here on Colorado mountain roads and it is a quick way to completely lose control of the vehicle.

If your vehicle has the ABLS feature then when accelerating it will apply the ABS to the wheel that is spinning and it will also lower the throttle to the engine. So keep it in drive and let the Titan do it's thing.
I'm a little confused on this post. Are you saying that VDC doesn't work properly in gears other than Drive? Aside from that, if you're going to hit a spot to lose traction, it's going to lose traction no matter what gear you're in. Driving in a lower gear has one purpose: to prevent the vehicle from gaining speed. If the Titan was a manual, you wouldn't drive in the manner you wrote; you'd keep it in the lowest gear possible/practical and use engine braking to prevent excess speed. Going downhill you do *not* want to ride the brakes, as much as can be prevented; when you are braking, you are locking the wheel and preventing free movement. That is why they came out with ABS - so you couldn't lock the wheels with your brakes, because the pulsing system takes over and grabs and releases. And the reason your 4WD has "Hi" and "Lo" is to provide granny gearing to better control your speed and applied torque. If I was facing a long, steep downhill descent in the snow, I'd be in 4LO 1 or 2 - that's going to crawl you down the hill, and if it's a pure sheet of ice so you pick up speed, nothing would have helped you anyway - certainly not being in overdrive and screaming as fast as the driveline can turn.

As an aside, though I've been driving in the mountains for 25 years, I figured I'd see what the manual says about the gearing. This is directly from the manual:

Quote:
1(Low gear):Use this position when climbing steep hills slowly or slow driving through deep snow, sand or mud, or for maximum engine braking on steep downhill grades.
And this is why you want to *be* in a low gear on snowy downhills - also from the manual:

Quote:
Do not downshift abruptly on slippery roads. This may cause a loss of control.
Quote:
Do not shift the 4WD shift switch while driving on steep downhill grades. Use the engine brake and low automatic transmission gears (D1 or D2) for engine braking.

Last edited by jdmartin; 10-16-2011 at 08:21 PM.
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#11 (permalink) Old 10-17-2011, 06:01 PM
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Re: Lower gears on snowy roads

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Originally Posted by jdmartin View Post
I'm a little confused on this post. Are you saying that VDC doesn't work properly in gears other than Drive? Aside from that, if you're going to hit a spot to lose traction, it's going to lose traction no matter what gear you're in.
No, that is not what I'm saying. When you have the transmission in a low gear, going downhill in slippery conditions and you lose traction the VDC cannot take the transmission out of that lower gear. So the tire that is slipping will continue to slip and the VDC cannot fully compensate for it like it could if the tire lost traction due to braking. I have had this happen to me and it was an abrupt lesson to stay out of the lower gears when going downhill in slippery conditions. It is far safer to use the brakes to slow down that to use the lower gears in those conditions.

It shouldn't have to be said but if you're going fast downhill in slippery conditions then you're a prime candidate for the Darwin Awards.

I think the quotes you provided from the manual should be used in the proper context. I doubt that the reference to maximum engine braking was intended to include slippery conditions.

Absent slippery conditions I am in complete agreement in the use of engine braking when going downhill. When driving down I-70 into Denver I rarely have to even touch the brakes because I'm using the gears (usually 3rd and sometimes 2nd) to slow my descent.

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#12 (permalink) Old 10-18-2011, 02:50 AM
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Re: Lower gears on snowy roads

using a lower gear is a good way to lose your bite, not recommended at all

like said before, put it in drive and keep it there

as for a sheet of ice, without chains, it doesnt matter what gear your in, if you think you have a bite you are fooling yourself

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#13 (permalink) Old 10-18-2011, 03:16 AM
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Re: Lower gears on snowy roads

Quote:
Originally Posted by cayers1122 View Post
I am in Atlanta and we hardly ever have a "major" event. Last year was the first time my 4wd Titan experienced snow and ice. Mostly ice. I saw alot of people sliding around and crashing but I never had an issue. I drove with intelligence and when it was just a sheet of ice on the highway I would slip it in 4 hi and was good to go. I actually ended up helping a few people get their cars and trucks back on the road. One was a new 4wd tundra. I need to find the pic of me pulling him out of a ditch.
The lesson is drive slow and leave plenty of room to screw up and you should be fine. I have virtually no ice experience other than that.
People, this is gospel for every unfamiliar task taken on. Nice quote, Cayers

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#14 (permalink) Old 10-18-2011, 05:40 AM
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Re: Lower gears on snowy roads

You will only need to downshift in extreme situations where a steep hill with tonnes of ice would cause you to skid the moment you tap the brakes. Just be careful, give lots of extra space, and use 4wd to maintain traction on slippery roads.


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#15 (permalink) Old 10-18-2011, 09:24 AM
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Re: Lower gears on snowy roads

For the OP:

Read this article, written by experts at the Bridgestone winter driving school in Steamboat Springs, Colorado:

Driving in Snow Guidelines, Examples & Practice - Truck Trend

I don't want to see a big pissing match here, but if you listen to some of the things you've been told here about riding your brakes going downhill in full overdrive in the snow, you're going to get killed. This, and I quote, from Greg Nikolas, chief driving instructor at the Land Rover driving school in Manchester, Vermont:

Quote:
"Use the gearing of the vehicle more," says Nikolas. "Use first gear and let engine compression hold you back, using less foot brake. Use the brakes sparingly. If it's a particularly steep hillside, we call it threshold braking. Use just enough to slow down, but not enough to lock up the wheels, and that's tough."
It's pretty hard to use the brakes sparingly when you're at the top of a hill in top gear, like some people here are advocating. I've driven in the mountains all my life, have driven more than a million miles, and I've been driving for 25+ years. But listen, don't take my (or anyone else's) word for it. Call up your local driving school and talk to them about it. Better yet, call up one of the premier mountain driving schools (i.e. the aforementioned Bridgestone school) and ask them whether you should stay in overdrive and use the brakes to slow you down on a snowy hill, or if you should use a lower gear and let engine braking slow you down. They will give you the right answer.

PS: low gearing can also be used on flat ground in the snow, depending on how bad it is. One of the advantages of locking into a gear (as much as can be done on an automatic) is that you don't get upshifts/downshifts in inopportune moments. It's not as crucial on flat ground because you should already be controlling your speed with the accelerator pedal.
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