Driving in Snow: 4WD Vehicle Safety Tricks

4WD truck
New Zealand weather could be erratic, even if you’re driving a 4WD vehicle. The addition of unexpected road ice and snow, as well as heavy fog or rain, could make driving conditions potentially dangerous. While it’s actually rare for snow to result in closed roads, you should take extra caution when driving.

Below are some safety hacks you should know when driving a 4WD vehicle:

  • While 4WD vehicles, including sport utilities, all wheel drives, and off-road vehicles (except if they have winter tyres), are exempted from the requirement of carrying and fitting snow chains, you should definitely consider having and fitting them when needed. They efficiently improve traction and steering control on slippery roads, and are immensely helpful in extreme environments.
  • Alternatively, if your 4WD doesn’t have winter tyres and if you just don’t like or are uncomfortable using snow chains, consider other snow traction devices like those manufactured from textiles. Just make certain that they comply with set standards.
  • One of the prime advantages of 4WD tyres when driving in snow is that you don’t have to fit the chains immediately. You should first break the crust in order that the thread could grasp the surface underneath when driving in light snow.
  • Don’t ever steer the wheel sharply while driving in the snow because you might skid or spin — hard. Choose high range and avoid sudden acceleration and braking. Never rev your engine in deeper and instead choose a low range and minimal pressure to enable your 4WD tyres to effectively grip and not slip, Tyretracks suggests.
  • A note on winter tyres; they are designed for snow driving and offer equal performance to snow chains when driving in snowy conditions and better performance on roads in cold weather than typical tyres. Winter tyres have a standard logo that looks like a jagged mountain with a snowflake in the middle.

Take note that during really bad winter months, you might encounter some temporary road closures in Central North and South Island. While you could easily find alternative routes, do your due diligence before heading out.