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Old 04-14-2007, 04:35 PM
 
Location: Fly-over country.
1,765 posts, read 6,371,082 times
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Just doing long term planning here.

I've applied for a few government jobs in MT as I prepare to retire from the military. I'm from the south, but have lived all over.

The thing that concerns me is how your vehicle needs to be set up for the winter. Do you guys get the winter options like battery warmers and grill covers for diesels? Or do "modern" cars (meaning since like the 80s) do ok in the cold?

Since the winter is harsh, do most houses / town homes / rentals / whatever have covered parking?

I have a Jeep (XJ) that is heavily modified for off-road fun (lifted, locked, regeared, etc) but it won't do a damn bit of good if I can't get it started or keep it running. I suppose I just get it winterized? We also have a Civic. I could sell it before moving as it's more of a commuter car.

I must sound naive, but I get this mental picture of everyone out there driving F250 diesel 4x4s with snow blades up front.
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Old 04-14-2007, 06:21 PM
 
Location: Nashville, Tn
7,916 posts, read 16,764,377 times
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Quote:
The thing that concerns me is how your vehicle needs to be set up for the winter.
I would definitely recommend getting a place with a garage. Not all rentals have them but it would be good to have. It's not just the problem of getting your vehicle started, it's also having to scrape off a bunch of ice and snow in the morning if it's parked outside. I'll bet your Civic would do just fine in the winter. My Mother has had some small Japanese cars and never had any problems at all. Of course you've got to remember your antifreeze and have good tires but that's about it. Sometimes if you have to park outside people will install headbolt heaters which will usually get them started in the morning but you shouldn't need that if you have a garage.
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Old 04-14-2007, 11:15 PM
 
Location: Great Falls, Montana
529 posts, read 1,729,176 times
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It's been our local experience that it doesn't make much of a difference what someone has when they move up here from a warmer climate.

Not knowing how to drive in the ice and snow will get you put in the ditch quicker than whatever vehicle you've chosen to drive will.

I've seen big shiny SUV's stuck so deep, that removal of them comes with the spring thaw. And I've seen Lucky Little Lucy, tooling around safely in her 1970 two wheel drive Ford Pinto wagon ....

Cold weather doesn't freak us out too much....... keeping a rig tuned and equipped with a good block heater usually does the trick.

I wouldn't lose any sleep over what to drive around here, really....
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Old 04-14-2007, 11:45 PM
 
Location: Helena, MT
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I would say that it's important to determine if you're going to live up a hill though. I have a Toyota Celica and I can't make it up my parents' road (not very steep) when it's snowy. It's too light and I just spin my tires. Of course, snow tires would probably help.

I don't have a block heater, which I should. When it's going to be really cold, I just run the car for a good while at 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. to make sure it doesn't totally freeze up solid. I've only had it not start once. However, it would probably be a lot smarter for me to just have the block heater installed so I don't have to get up in the middle of the night. I'm a total procrastinator.

I have gotten stuck on my own flat street several times. I just wouldn't get a really light car again. I can make it work, but it's definitely the worst car I've had for snow.

My mom & several of my friends have had Subarus and really liked the AWD for winter.

I agree with Gift Shoppe Guy. Your experience in learning how to drive in the snow is going to be the biggest hurdle.

The other moral of this story is that you can still get around without doing much of anything to prepare your vehicle (like me), but just not very well.
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Old 04-15-2007, 06:52 AM
 
Location: Fly-over country.
1,765 posts, read 6,371,082 times
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I agree that when it comes to snow and ice, how you drive is the key -- what you drive is secondary in most cases unless you live on a hill or down country roads that are last to get plowed (or first to drift over)

Trust me, five inches of snow in the DC area puts people in ditches. Lots of folks here don't slow down or they think pushing the 4WD button is all they need to do to then they can drive like normal...

Thanks for the info on the block heaters.
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Old 04-17-2007, 10:28 PM
 
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hi; definitely block heaters and a garage if at all possible. It gets old scraping ice off windows and brushing snow off vehicles. and the weather doesn't slow down Montanans. Hardy people! They go out in all types of weather and when we lived in Billings, the schools never closed (we were there 8 years). No snow days for your kids if you have them.
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Old 04-18-2007, 08:49 PM
 
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
7,540 posts, read 12,578,132 times
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What everyone else said. A block heater will help it start in the morning and save a lot of stress on the engine, and a really good one will even help heat up the passenger compartment. And either a garage or at least a carport will save you a lot of scraping, especially when last night's wet snow has decided to freeze solidly onto your windshield.

The same antifreeze that protects your car from overheating in summer also protects it from freezing in winter, so that's not usually anything to worry about.

The main thing about winter driving in MT is that there are constant freeze/thaw cycles, so "vehicular ice skating" is a way of life. Drive like you're going over raw eggs, take things real easy and don't rush, and you'll do fine.

I liked to put four studded snow tires on my vehicle in winter -- made a world of difference. I could stop short on glare ice, and it almost couldn't be *made* to skid even if you tried to do it on purpose. Also, the stiffer your tires' sidewalls, the better they'll handle on ice (less tendency to sideslip). I once put 6-plies on a sports car, and man did it handle good on ice! didn't even need snow tires that year.

Also, get a set of tire chains and learn how to put them on RIGHT (if you put 'em on wrong they can tear up your brake lines when they fall off). If you're lucky you'll never use 'em, but they'll save your butt if you get stuck, either in snow or mud. One winter I used chains so much (couldn't get down my road without 'em, even with a 4WD) that I got so I could put 'em on in 30 seconds flat. Lay 'em out, drive over 'em, haul up one side and the other, clip 'em tight, done.
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Old 04-20-2007, 03:41 PM
 
1 posts, read 3,789 times
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Default cars

After 6 years in MD (about 10 miles from FT. Mead) I'm moving back to Montana - and taking one of the cars back that I moved out here with. I grew up in Missoula driving Ford Taurus', Buick Electra's, and VW bugs. They all get around fine. A garage is really nice, but for the first 10 years my folks lived in Missoula they didn't have one, and still made it to work teaching school every morning.

(As someone said earlier, they don't close the schools just because someone predicts snow the next day - something my 6th grader is going to have to re-adjust to!)

Drive sane when its slick, and life is good!
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Old 04-20-2007, 04:40 PM
 
Location: Nashville, Tn
7,916 posts, read 16,764,377 times
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Quote:
they don't close the schools just because someone predicts snow the next day - something my 6th grader is going to have to re-adjust to
Yeah, when I was in the sixth grade I had to walk a couple of miles through waist deep snow to get to school and it was uphill both ways.
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Old 04-20-2007, 05:20 PM
 
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
7,540 posts, read 12,578,132 times
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[laughing] I never saw nor heard of a Montana school having a weather closure in all the years I walked to school there, and during the winter of 1968-69, temps in Great Falls hit -72F, *not counting* wind chill. ("We want a chinook! We want a chinook!! We want a chinook!!!" Wish I had a copy of that tape!!)

Kids weren't even allowed to ride the bus unless your house was at least 1.5 miles from the school. It was assumed that being a Montana kid, you knew how to dress for the weather, and no one I knew ever got frostbite or any other cold-related ailment. And cold-weather gear is a lot better today than it was back then!!

At MSU, I rode my bicycle uphill to campus (I lived down at the far edge of Bozeman's "fruit section") all winter... and LIVED! you sure learn in a hurry not to touch those front brakes when riding on ice, tho
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