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Discussion Starter #1
I've had my '13 Volt for about three weeks now and today I had the opportunity to try him out in icy, snowy roads and very cold temperatures.

I may still have the original tires on this one with a little more than 41,000 miles on them. Between the silky smooth power from the electric motors and the traction control, I had no trouble at all taking off and maintaining a good steady pace down the road.

The trouble is trying to stop. I was driving in 'L' so decelerating was smooth and easy. But when I hit the brake pedal, it seems that once the mechanical brakes kick in, they are quite grabby suddenly causing the front wheels to lock. Combine that with the extra weight of the Volt and stopping or slowing for a turn in my normal snowy-road style becomes quite interesting.

Nothing bad happened, and I learned that I need to leave a good bit of extra space when driving this thing.
 

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My 2012 handles just like any other FWD car I've driven during the Michigan winter.

I found the stock goodyears to be unacceptable in snow/slush
My OEM Assurance tires performed as expected last winter. I'm likely going with Blizzaks this winter for better security.
 

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Personally, I think snow tires make all the difference. Four snow tires with directional treads.

As you note, the traction control and using "L" with slippery conditions are both amazing, but once you brake and ABS kicks in, it's like any other car and you need tires with good grip. This is especially true in the Volt since it's a bit heavier than most vehicles, so it will tend to slide a bit more/longer with ABS kicking in if those tires don't grip.

A co-worker that has a Volt is certain that "L" prevented him from being part of a huge pileup on the NY Thruway. In fact, he was apparently the first person to stop and NOT be part of the pileup. He swears by using "L" in the winter and minimizing friction brake usage.
 

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My 2012 handles just like any other FWD car I've driven during the Michigan winter.



My OEM Assurance tires performed as expected last winter. I'm likely going with Blizzaks this winter for better security.
They performed as I expected also. Horribly.
 

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I was born and grew up near Buffalo NY so I cut my "driving teeth" in snow and ice. I very quickly learned that the components of a good winter vehicle are basically;

1) TIRES!
Good tires can make a poor-ish winter vehicle at least tolerable, bad tires can make an excellent winter vehicle un drivable.

2) Tire Size
All else being equal, larger diameter tires will work better in snow and slush than smaller diameter ones.

3) Balance.
A truly good winter vehicle has a physical center of balance biased slightly towards the rear of the vehicle for the same reasons of physics that you always put your best tires on the rear. This helps to keep the back of your vehicle in line behind you rather than fishtailing around.

4) Raw Weight.
All else being equal, a heavier vehicle is better in the snow.

On the whole the Volt ticks off all of these factors and should therefore be a decent to good winter vehicle.
However,

The OEM Goodyears are some of the most completely unsuitable winter tires I've encountered in 30+ years of driving. They are stunningly bad for slush and snow! This year I have Continental TrueContact Eco Plus rubber on the car, I expect they will be far superior.

My Volt's hydraulic brakes used to be a bit "grabby" when wet. I started occasionally putting my car in "neutral" while taking a specific highway exit ramp on my drive home so that the car is forced to use the full hydraulic setup more frequently and my brakes have settled in much better. Even so, I agree that the blended transition from regen to hydraulic can cause a "bip" right when you least want it. Turning traction control off helped me a lot with that.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Some new shoes for 'Victor' ( I always name my cars ) are in the plan. I am hoping to put it off until January for budgetary reasons.

I'm also hoping that today set the coldest start record for this year. 14 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit). I used the full 10 minutes of pre-conditioning twice before taking off with a 20 minute rest period between the two.

The interesting part is that the battery guess-o-meter read 44 miles before I left. A new record in my entire 3 weeks of experience. :-O
 

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If I understand correctly, regen cuts out instantly when traction is lost so you feel a sudden loss of braking and you might at first think your brakes have failed or you're skidding. (this has happened to me on gravel at stop signs) So wouldn't it make sense as suggested above to lock out regen when slowing on snow by putting the selector in N at some point? Sounds like a good plan, but I rarely encounter snow here in S. Cal to test this technique.
 

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I was born and grew up near Buffalo NY so I cut my "driving teeth" in snow and ice. I very quickly learned that the components of a good winter vehicle are basically;

1) TIRES!
Good tires can make a poor-ish winter vehicle at least tolerable, bad tires can make an excellent winter vehicle un drivable.

2) Tire Size
All else being equal, larger diameter tires will work better in snow and slush than smaller diameter ones.

3) Balance.
A truly good winter vehicle has a physical center of balance biased slightly towards the rear of the vehicle for the same reasons of physics that you always put your best tires on the rear. This helps to keep the back of your vehicle in line behind you rather than fishtailing around.

4) Raw Weight.
All else being equal, a heavier vehicle is better in the snow.

On the whole the Volt ticks off all of these factors and should therefore be a decent to good winter vehicle.
However,

The OEM Goodyears are some of the most completely unsuitable winter tires I've encountered in 30+ years of driving. They are stunningly bad for slush and snow! This year I have Continental TrueContact Eco Plus rubber on the car, I expect they will be far superior.

My Volt's hydraulic brakes used to be a bit "grabby" when wet. I started occasionally putting my car in "neutral" while taking a specific highway exit ramp on my drive home so that the car is forced to use the full hydraulic setup more frequently and my brakes have settled in much better. Even so, I agree that the blended transition from regen to hydraulic can cause a "bip" right when you least want it. Turning traction control off helped me a lot with that.
I was born and learned to drive in the Maritimes, similar conditions but probably heavier and wetter snow and much more hilly.

I agree on points 1 and 2, not so much on 3 and 4. There is a point where weight becomes a disadvantage, and I think the Volt is just a bit past it. As for balance, a front weight bias helps stability, especially with front wheel drive and ABS. The Volt is a particularly nose-heavy car, again perhaps just a bit too much. All in all I'd give the Volt a very good winter rating but not excellent.
 

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I was born and learned to drive in the Maritimes, similar conditions but probably heavier and wetter snow and much more hilly.
Hah, I've been to the Maritimes. Actually very similar conditions for much of the winter, but the Catskill mountains are steeper (especially around Ithaca NY).

I agree on points 1 and 2, not so much on 3 and 4. There is a point where weight becomes a disadvantage, and I think the Volt is just a bit past it.
#4, I'm going to respectfully disagree with you. The Volt is only about 150 pounds heavier than my 97 Jeep Cherokee which is one of the most perfect snow vehicles ever created so I think that the Volt is right inside the ideal weight for a winter vehicle category.

As for balance, a front weight bias helps stability, especially with front wheel drive and ABS. The Volt is a particularly nose-heavy car, again perhaps just a bit too much. All in all I'd give the Volt a very good winter rating but not excellent.
with #3, I'm pretty sure you have that backwards, weight biased toward the front will "get you going" better, but weight biased towards the rear will give you better stability and control. Of course there are also the factors of the center of gravity and polar moment of inertia but in the most simple/general of terms it's far better to have the weight 40/60 than the other way around. It was my understanding that the Volt was pretty even, around 45/55 distribution but I could be mis-remembering.
 

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Well, Dutch, this is one of those topics where we could trade opinions all day and both come out about 75% right. We've had different cars in different conditions and probably at different times.

The worst winter cars I've had were big, heavy RWD cars (Olds 98, 402 motor, 327 Camaro), and the little, rear engined ones (VWs, smart car). The rear engine cars want to go sideways when it is slippery. One of the best I've had was a Renault 5 that was under a tonne but had 50/50 weight distribution, loads of ground clearance, and a relatively long wheelbase. Again, my conditions, my opinions.

Traction is largely a matter of which wheels are driven and where the motor is located. Even then, I had one street in Halifax that I could only climb on a bad day if I backed up it with my FWD car. Nobody else could get up it at all. The rear engine cars want to go sideways when it is slippery- no traction or stability control in those days. Yes, the Cherokee is an excellent winter vehicle but is rear or four-wheel drive, lots of ground clearance, etc. so kind of hard to put its capabilities down to just weight.

One thing that is not opinion: the Volt is a rather extremely nose-heavy car. 63/37 % front to rear, so not far from twice as much weight on the front wheels as the rear.

Hah, I've been to the Maritimes. Actually very similar conditions for much of the winter, but the Catskill mountains are steeper (especially around Ithaca NY).



#4, I'm going to respectfully disagree with you. The Volt is only about 150 pounds heavier than my 97 Jeep Cherokee which is one of the most perfect snow vehicles ever created so I think that the Volt is right inside the ideal weight for a winter vehicle category.



with #3, I'm pretty sure you have that backwards, weight biased toward the front will "get you going" better, but weight biased towards the rear will give you better stability and control. Of course there are also the factors of the center of gravity and polar moment of inertia but in the most simple/general of terms it's far better to have the weight 40/60 than the other way around. It was my understanding that the Volt was pretty even, around 45/55 distribution but I could be mis-remembering.
 

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If I understand correctly, regen cuts out instantly when traction is lost so you feel a sudden loss of braking and you might at first think your brakes have failed or you're skidding. (this has happened to me on gravel at stop signs) So wouldn't it make sense as suggested above to lock out regen when slowing on snow by putting the selector in N at some point? Sounds like a good plan, but I rarely encounter snow here in S. Cal to test this technique.
This is exactly the conclusion I reached. When braking on snow, a given amount of pressure on the brake pedal that would normally slow you down is not enough to engage the hydraulic brakes when regen kicks off, and if feels like the cars leaps forward (kinda scary at first).
So in my experience, one of two things solve the issue: once regen kicks off apply way more pressure to the brake pedal (but this makes for jerky stops when the tires grip again), or my preferred solution which is shifting to N when I know I'll need ABS and want to brake with all wheels from the beginning.
Driving in snow in L makes the forward "leaps" seems worse to me, so I don't drive in L on snow anymore.

The weirdest part is that the car doesn't always leap forward, sometimes it works as a normal car with ABS would, which is why I feel is this a poorly programmed integration between regen and ABS. I would think that if a computer is going to turn off regen braking due to low traction, it should immediately engage the rear hydraulic brakes, but maybe that's just me...
 
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