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Old 11-03-2011, 05:21 PM
 
21 posts, read 37,996 times
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My family will be moving to Woodland Park in January. Coming from California, the winter driving w/ snow and ice is going to be a new experience for me. I have a couple of questions:

1) Does anyone know of any winter driving classes or training that's offered in WP or the Springs?

2) I drive a Ford f150 4x2 limited slip diff w/ Michelin LTX M/S2 tires that, according to Tirerack.com and some other sources are supposed to be pretty good in winter conditions. We will be living in town and I plan to keep some additional ballast in back over the rear wheels. Will this suffice or do I need to bite the bullet for snow tires?

3) We also have a Honda Fit FWD. If we slap some Blizzaks or similar on it, should that suffice in all but heavy storms (when I plan to stay inside)

Thanks in advance for any info!

Last edited by wowhunter; 11-03-2011 at 05:36 PM.. Reason: additional info
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Old 11-03-2011, 10:06 PM
 
727 posts, read 1,135,208 times
Reputation: 766
Check out MasterDrive (MasterDrive.com). At the website, click on Defensive Driving, then on Adult Skills Training. There's a short intro to their specialized adult courses. One of them is a winter driving course. I'm not sure of all the details, but I know their training facility includes a skid pad and it's used during the course. So, you'll learn first hand how to deal with slick surfaces, how to maintain control, and what to do if you spin. MasterDrive is a Colorado Springs based driving school (with other offices in Denver and CA) that is primarily for teenagers learning to drive, but has other courses for adults and corporate clients. The owner, Ronn Langford, has an interesting story. He was a successful real estate developer whose daughter was killed in a traffic accident involving a teenage driver. After that, he started MasterDrive. To date, the company has trained more than 60,000 kids over the past 20 years. I recently met Ronn (I purchased a race car from him and he was my instructor at my club's track day. Ronn was also a very successful race car driver a few years ago, and has coached a number of successful racers, but that's another story). I've also talked with several parents who have sent their kids to MasterDrive courses and swear by them. I plan on taking the winter driving course, though I've been driving in winter weather for 30 years. Never too old to learn something new. The website doesn't give a lot of info on the winter driving course, so you'll have to contact them directly.
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Old 11-04-2011, 12:18 AM
 
Location: 900 miles from my home in 80814
4,669 posts, read 6,742,826 times
Reputation: 7078
Because there are several schools in WP, all the main roads are plowed almost immediately as it starts snowing. They're very proactive with sanding and plowing. But the side roads are pretty much left to solar melting or until the plows get around to them. I have AWD and have been just fine with it, even going up and down Blue Bird Hill (the hill to the west of WP on Hwy 24) to and from Divide. Most times, the roads are cowpaths right after a storm, but melt quickly (except for shaded spots) as soon as the sun comes out. Roads are clear probably 80% of winter.

Snow tires are a good idea, as your truck might be light in the back. Weight will help a lot. Honestly, the number of days you'll need snow tires is probably about 10-15 a winter. Most of the snow is in March and April, when it's a heavy, wet Spring snow. Oftentimes, there is little to no snow until then, and if there is, it's generally lighter so it melts fairly quickly in the sun. North facing areas may not melt until May, though. Rarely has there been a white Christmas. It may be white on the ground, but the roads will be dry and clear, and so will the skies.

Here's a link to weather stats for Teller County. This might help you decide whether you need winter weather driving classes or not.

Teller County Colorado Climate - Teller County Colorado Communities History Demographics Climate
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Old 11-04-2011, 07:56 AM
SYS
 
336 posts, read 993,738 times
Reputation: 226
I'm also from California (San Diego) via Tucson, AZ, and I'd highly recommend having a set of dedicated snow tires if you've never driven on snow and ice before. After you wear them out (typically after 3-4 seasons), you'll know whether you'd need to continue to use them or just regular tires.

I have a basic set of rules for winter driving. I worry less about the road condition and more with the other drivers. The rule #1: drive slow. #2: don't make sudden moves, either in braking or steering. #3: do not brake when slip and sliding away. #4: stay as far away as possible from other drivers. Of these #4 is the most important.
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Old 11-08-2011, 11:34 AM
 
Location: Woodland Park, CO
3,133 posts, read 9,106,824 times
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Sell your 4x2 truck in Cali.....you will at least get some decent money for it. It will be worthless for resale in Colorado.

I get around fine with my fwd Kia with all seasons. But if it's really bad, I drive my wifes 4x4 Durango to work (Cripple Creek).

I had winter tires (blizzaks and winterforce) on my previous vehicles. Sure they are awesome but the roads are only snow packed like 2 weeks out of the year. Then it gets into the 50's and 60's and the winter tires just melt away. I felt they were a waste for most of the winter, so I stick with good all-season tires (Firestone Destination A/Ts and Yoko Parada Spec-X) and drive with common sense.

My suggestion: Don't go buy anything yet, drive around with what you got and see if it works for you. I do think having one vehicle with AWD/4X4 is nice for when you really need to go somewhere when it's crap outside.
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Old 11-09-2011, 06:27 PM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
310 posts, read 1,060,728 times
Reputation: 171
Woodland Park will see a handful of really treacherous condition days on average per year.
Follow SYS's 4 rules to the tee. You can have studded snow tires with AWD and head out the door and get hit by some other guy. That is a very possible scenario.
The most common scenario you will see is there will be a wreck (or 50) and the traffic backs up real bad and you're stuck in it for an hour.

I have lived in the Springs for 11 years and once it was so slick (freezing drizzle/fog/19 degrees) on I-25...there were accidents EVERYWHERE! All around me! But that was only once. I have spun out a few times in a FWD passat w/ regular tires and once I had to leave the car at the bottom of the hill due to snow.
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Old 11-09-2011, 09:29 PM
 
Location: Centennial State
399 posts, read 667,123 times
Reputation: 176
To answer your last question, winter tires make more of a difference than any drivetrain; if you don't have traction, the drivetrain won't do anyone any good if all the wheels are doing are spinning not gripping onto anything.

Your Honda Fit WITH dedicated winter tires will be fine as long as ground clearance isn't an issue during winter. That seems to be another issues a lot of vehicles face though so just keep that in mind.
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