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McBlog: Keeping Your Cool in the Snow

Our intrepid columnist offers some winter driving tips - and recollections of icy roads past.

by on Jan.18, 2011

Winter driving can be fun - if you develop some basic skills, explains Denise McCluggage.

Thirteen Vermont winters and a class win in the Monte Carlo rally might lend me cred as a driver in snow. However, probably even more useful, and certainly more concentrated, are a number of sessions I had over the years at the Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs CO.

Learning to drive in conditions of limited traction is the most valuable experience for acquiring car control on any surface. Go take a day’s basic lesson on snow. Or if you’re already hot on the cold stuff stretch your skills with the session suitable for winter rally wannabes. Then treat yourself to a day on the welcoming slopes of Steamboat and make it a winter holiday for the books. Or Facebook.

Your All-Season News Source!

But what I’m writing at the moment are random notes on driving in snow, my experiences of it and my suggestions for those struggling with it this winter. Judging from what’s on my TV unfamiliarity is breeding undue contempt.  (Why is a video of someone’s van waltzing inexorably down an incline into a waiting tangle of ovine cars so mesmerizing?)

When I was the ski editor for the now long-gone New York Herald Tribune I spent all winter attending all the ski areas of upstate New York and New England.  Sometimes a trip to Colorado and Utah. I suppose someone had to do it. I wrote five columns a week and covered college ski races on the weekends. (I’m glad I was the one who had to do it.)


Give Your Tires Some Respect

Few things do more to improve safety, mileage, performance.

by on Jan.06, 2010

The right tires can make a big difference in performance, safety and fuel economy, especially on winter roads.

They’re the automotive equivalent of Rodney Dangerfield, but while tires typically “get no respect,’ they should, because arguably no single part of your car has a bigger influence over matters ranging from performance to mileage – and especially your safety.

Today’s car is a high-tech wonder, with some models featuring more than a dozen different computer systems onboard.  Yet the tire is decidedly low-tech, or so you might think.  In reality, rubber companies have invested billions into computer-aided design and manufacturing systems designed to improve the performance of those four black donuts at the corners of your car.

The latest designs last far longer than the tires of a generation ago.  They also achieve the seemingly impossible: giving you both a better grip on the road while reducing what the industry calls “rolling resistance.”  In layman’s terms, that translates into better mileage.

No Retreads!

In the wake of the Firestone/Ford fiasco, in which 280 deaths were linked to tire failures on Explorer SUVs, federal regulators ordered the use of tire pressure monitoring systems designed to alert motorists when tires lose pressure.