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Hi. I've had a 2018 Volt for a month, and I live in the lake effect snow belt of the UP, so we've had 70+ inches of snow since I got the car. With snow tires, the car has been fine in the snow, but we have some very steep streets in town (an old mining town). What's the best bet for getting up a steep hill in snow? So far, I've been avoiding the steepest hills, and going up the other hills by leaving the Volt in drive, rather than putting it in low or turning off traction control--but some people suggest L might be more effective. Any consensus here? Thanks.
 

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My 2011 owners manual says not to use Low or Cruise in snowy or wet conditions. What does your 2018 say?
 

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Going uphill it should not make any different whether in D or L. Coming down is a different story....I would think that the braking effect of L would be better so that you can avoid pushing on the brakes too much.
 

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First bet is to move where there is less snow :) Second would be a traction aid. If the hills are icy you might need studded tires.

The Volt always performs regen braking first when pressing the brake pedal, so there isn't functionally much difference using L vs brake. The advantage of being in D with the brake is your foot is already over the brake. I prefer L because I can be slowing down before I even get to the brake pedal. If the car senses low traction it will stop regen, so it won't lose control and skid because of regen.

Getting up slippery slopes you generally want enough speed so momentum will help carry you up. This can result in loss of control of the vehicle or inability to stop though, so you have to be careful. Worst thing is if you have to stop on a hill, sometimes you have to go back down.
 

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Coming down is a different story....I would think that the braking effect of L would be better so that you can avoid pushing on the brakes too much.
Per the owners manual, I'd recommend the opposite.

If you're descending a hill in L and relying on regen to regulate your speed (without your foot on the brake pedal) and the tires lose traction due to a slippery surface, the regen cuts out completely and you'll start accelerating down the hill.

On the other hand, if you're in D and you're maintaining your speed via regen by pressing the brake pedal and the tires lose traction, you'll already have your foot on the brake pedal and will be able to react quicker to press down harder and engage the brake pads and ABS.
 

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I think your strategy of avoiding the steepest hills by altering your route is excellent. Even with all the factors in your favor, getting into an accident on a steep slippery hill is always a possibility, and of course would be a huge inconvenience, or worse.

As for driving in the snow, moving the shift lever to a different setting is a common strategy used in ICE vehicles and can have some real benefits there. The way the Volt works, it will not have the same effect or any real benefits for you. I would leave it in D, and the mode set to Normal.

As I am sure you know better than most, use a gentle foot on the accelerator pedal (the Volt is better for this than most cars), approach the hill with the speed you need to climb it, avoid having to accelerate going up hill, and try to position the tires over the parts of the road that offer the best traction (for instance, areas of snow or grainy ice rather than the polished tracks of earlier cars that spun their tires).

But really, if you are having any trouble with the hill, going the other way is much smarter.
 

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If you live in the UP you don't need advice on winter driving. But as was already stated, in the Volt L does not have the same meaning as in an ICE car. You should keep the car in D and use the brakes when necessary. In D the traction control will take care of you, and with the brake pedal the ABS will also do what it needs to. Leave the regen paddle alone as well.
 

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I turn off the traction control assuming the road doesn't have too much crown. With snow tires, I've chugged up some pretty steep, western-PA hills (from a stop) which definitely would have challenged many cars. It's not unstoppable or as good as my old AWD Volvo, but it's certainly good enough 99.9% of the time.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I turn off the traction control assuming the road doesn't have too much crown. With snow tires, I've chugged up some pretty steep, western-PA hills (from a stop) which definitely would have challenged many cars. It's not unstoppable or as good as my old AWD Volvo, but it's certainly good enough 99.9% of the time.
I've heard this before--turn off traction control--but I don't understand the logic. Why exactly does it help get up those hills? I would have thought it helps, not hinders.

I know not to use L going downhill in rain, ice, or snow, but I wasn't certain if it would help with uphills, as it does on my Subaru. Thanks for clarifying that it doesn't.

Finally, the manual advises the use of mountain mode for getting up hills: Mountain mode "...should be selected at the beginning of a trip before climbing steep, uphill grades and when expecting to drive in very hilly or mountainous terrain. This mode maintains a reserve electrical charge of the high voltage battery to provide better grade climbing performance." Does this apply in the snow?
 

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Don't laugh and don't try it on crowded city streets but a front wheel drive car going up a snow covered hill in reverse does the trick. Front wheel drive cars are normally weight biased in the front due to the engine being right over the drive wheels. Going up a hill transfers some of that bias to the rear wheels leaving less traction on the front drive wheels. Backing up adds more tractive effort to the drive wheels that are now in the rear. I have a driveway that is really steep and in heavy snow reverse is sometimes the only way up. A double bonus is (if you don't make it up) it is a lot easier to steer the car going forward back down the hill vs. sliding down backwards.

All that being said, the Volt with it's battery pack under the floor of the car most likely has closer to a 50/50 weight distribution then almost any other front wheel drive car which would minimize the effect of backing up. But always fun to try :) !
 

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Going downhill can be more interesting...:rolleyes:
Canadians would call this CURLING with cars instead of curling stones...:)
 

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If you're descending a hill in L and relying on regen to regulate your speed (without your foot on the brake pedal) and the tires lose traction due to a slippery surface, the regen cuts out completely and you'll start accelerating down the hill.

On the other hand, if you're in D and you're maintaining your speed via regen by pressing the brake pedal and the tires lose traction, you'll already have your foot on the brake pedal and will be able to react quicker to press down harder and engage the brake pads and ABS.
Strongly agree. Using heavy regen without your foot on the brake ready to take over in extremely slippery conditions is just asking for issues. When the regen inevitably kicks off when the front wheels break traction (as the front wheels are the only ones which generate regen) not being ready to take over with the brake pedal could catch you off guard.

I turn off the traction control assuming the road doesn't have too much crown. With snow tires, I've chugged up some pretty steep, western-PA hills (from a stop) which definitely would have challenged many cars. It's not unstoppable or as good as my old AWD Volvo, but it's certainly good enough 99.9% of the time.
A spinning/slipping wheel has less traction than a firmly planted wheel, and it also loses directional control. Disabling the traction control is just going to let the wheel spin out of control without careful pedal modulation, and you're actually worse off at that point.
 

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I turn off the traction control assuming the road doesn't have too much crown. With snow tires, I've chugged up some pretty steep, western-PA hills (from a stop) which definitely would have challenged many cars. It's not unstoppable or as good as my old AWD Volvo, but it's certainly good enough 99.9% of the time.
Turning off traction control is bad idea. The only situation it's a good idea is if you're stuck and trying to rock the car out, then you need to disable it or you can't get the rock going.

The way traction control works on these cars is that if one drive wheel starts spinning much faster than the other, it brakes that wheel so that the other wheel gets torque. It's like a poor man's limited slip differential. If both wheels are spinning much faster than the rear wheels it severely cuts engine (or motor) power to stop the spin, because spinning wheels have less traction than non-spinning wheels.

Point being that you will get up those steep western-PA hills better with the traction control enabled even if the braking/cutting power "feels" obnoxious compared to wildly spinning one wheel all the way up.
 

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Going downhill can be more interesting...:rolleyes:

Canadians would call this CURLING with cars instead of curling stones...:)
I lived in Portland in the late 70's. One winter day I was at my GF's place just off 405 when it started snowing. We bundled up and walked out to an overpass and watched cars crash below on the freeway, one after the other, for a couple of hours. Their wet snow is really slick combined with the fact that so many of those people there have no idea of how to drive in slick conditions. It was great entertainment.
 

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WE like to park onside of Royal Oak or Boundary on the first snow of the winter with popcorn and a camera.
I remember watching a clip on BCTV way back when of people sliding down the hill on Boundary as it descends to Marine Way. They set it to the music of the "Blue Danube", with cars going "crunch-crunch", "crunch-crunch" in time with the music. It was a riot.
 
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