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Old 10-17-2012, 08:52 AM   #1
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Cold Weather Driving - any concerns?

After having gotten used to driving my 36ft Expedition during summer weather I am looking at the need to drive the unit in late November / early December (Upper Midwest, Minnesota/Iowa/Indiana - need to get the unit in to the factor for work....).

My question for those more experienced is: how concerned do I need to be about driving the unit in cold weather, especially as regards snow/frost/icing on the roads???? This is specifically around controllability and safety (NOT about winterizing issues). I know there are warnings around not using the exhaust brake on slippery roads ... but do not know about any other issues.

I guess the bottom line is should accept taking this trip at this time, or should I say no, and wait for warmer weather (where I might not have the time to do the trip.....). Please let me know your thoughts and experiences?
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Old 10-17-2012, 09:26 AM   #2
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I would go for it. Typically if you stay on the interstate unless if it's the middle of a storm the roads would be clear. The engine break(if you have the 6.7 cummins) will deactivate if it notices slippage in the rear wheels.

My biggest concern would be possibly driving on salty roads with a 2013 that I am sure cost a few pennies. I would bring it for a good wash when you get there. Even if you dont run on any salt. Plus in November there is typical not much snow quite yet.
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Old 10-17-2012, 09:58 AM   #3
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For the most part, large straight trucks and MH's are the safest vehicles on slick roads. They have lots of weight with bigger tires gripping the roadway. A diesel pusher has the engine weight over the drive wheels as well. They are less likely to spin out because of a heavy foot and sending to much power to the wheels like a small car would be. Knowing how to drive in winter roads is still needed and using the cruise control or the Jake brake may not be wise. They are high profile vehicles and wind can be a determining factor. Staying warm may be hard as the heater is sending everything from a long way. It is no fun driving in ice and snow in any vehicle and I will always wait for the road crews to get the hiways clear and stay in one place until that happens. Retired people can do that! The big problem is, it is easy to outdrive a weather system. What is happening at home may not be what is happening a few miles away. The highway may be wet at noon and at 7PM when the sun is set they are now ice and you cannot predict where, as the melting during the day may be what has frozen on the roadway after sundown.
Keeping the windows and the mirrors clear of ice can be a problem as well. Defrosters tend to work as well as the heaters. Heated mirrors are nice. At the same time without the heat on them they may be one of the first indications that the temp has dropped below freezing and the roadway is also likely to be ice when they freeze over.

Slow down and keep your distances and drive when the roads have been cleared!
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Old 10-17-2012, 10:21 AM   #4
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Being in the ski business in my youth, I spent a lot of time on winter roads. I have a deep respect for winter conditions. You haven't mentioned your driving experience in those conditions. Is there some flexibility as to timing of the trip?

Joe
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Old 10-17-2012, 11:33 AM   #5
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Being in the ski business in my youth, I spent a lot of time on winter roads. I have a deep respect for winter conditions. You haven't mentioned your driving experience in those conditions. Is there some flexibility as to timing of the trip?

Joe
I have lived in New England and Minnesota my entire life - I think that counts as "extensive" experience driving in snow/ice conditions, and treat them, as you said, with a **great** deal of respect (in fact I am the one everyone else passes because they think I am going too slow ). What I lack is intuition on how this much heavier vehicle reacts in those conditions (like, how likely to skid, how much is stopping distance extended, etc).

I had not even thought about the issue of cleaning off the salt, which is a problem if I land back in MN with temps constantly below freezing (thanks adehaan86), and The comments on fogging/iceing of mirrors by LUCKIEST DRE are something I had not thought about. I think my mirrors are heated, but need to double check on that - and I had not thought about the risk of fogging on the windows, and do not have the experience with the unit to know whether the defog systems will take care of that. Waiting out bad weather for improved roads makes a great deal of sense, but Alas, I am NOT retired (I wish!) ... for the next month or so have a window of flexibility to do this trip that I will not have after that or in the spring. I am caught between a conflict in going earlier (i.e. before thanksgiving when I have more confidence in the roads), and going in early December, where my confidence in the roads declines markedly.

Sigh - it looks like I am going to have to bail on the earlier conflict and take the earlier time slot.

Thank you everyone for the good advice and insight.
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Old 10-17-2012, 02:23 PM   #6
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We live in Northern Canada and travel to Yuma every year in late Dec or early Jan. first thing we do is clean the windows and mirrors with RainX this helps as the snow or rain sheds easier of the glass,then we curtain in the front cab portion with a heavy curtain to retain heat in the front area,turn the two windshield fans ,set the chassis heater to recirculate warned air and also run the coach heaters, having done this we have driven in -35 weather and a freak snow storm in Northern Calif. mountains(lake Shasta) it was not much fun but travelling slow we worked our way through it,with many units stopped on the side of the road,also I carry the minimum air pressure in the tires for the coach as over inflated tires are like skates on a slippery surface.load balance and distribution is amust.
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Old 10-18-2012, 12:26 AM   #7
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Another trick I use is to shift to neutral when I approach a stop sign going down any hill. If left in gear the engine tries to keep the rear wheels rolling and you need to use more brakes to stop and this can lock the front tires and skidding begins. It is a simple maneuver but can keep control when you need it most.
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Old 10-18-2012, 12:32 AM   #8
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Done it several times, once was on I-5 through Portland OR and south just after they opened the road after an ice/snow storm. Passed multiple vehicles in the ditch, some where the people we just getting out of the vehicle. Had almost no problems other than the dumb car drivers that would move over into your safety zone for stopping.
Another time I watched a car ahead of us slide off the road into the ditch, never did figure out what he did to cause the spin as we didn't have any trouble then either.
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Old 10-19-2012, 08:45 AM   #9
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Another trick I use is to shift to neutral when I approach a stop sign going down any hill. If left in gear the engine tries to keep the rear wheels rolling and you need to use more brakes to stop and this can lock the front tires and skidding begins. It is a simple maneuver but can keep control when you need it most.
Will the automatic Allison Transmission on DP's even **allow** you to shift in to neutral when moving???

Good idea - but it would not have even occurred to me to try it.......
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Old 10-19-2012, 08:58 AM   #10
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I have had two Allison 3000 transmissions and neither would shift into neutral until almost a complete stop. It is still an effective way of holding on ice covered roads, just requires,good timing.
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Old 10-24-2012, 02:28 PM   #11
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Excellent insights, everyone!
Just a couple of additional thoughts.
1) Make sure your basement heaters are set to keep everything above freezing, our you may get some nasty surprises with your plumbing system.
2) If you're driving into areas that typically expect freezing weather, you may be well advised to at least top off your fuel, as diesel fuel there will have anti-gelling additives not found when fueling in warm areas.
3) If you are towing in wet, slushy weather I strongly recommend stopping regularly to clean off tow vehicle brake lights...they'll see your coach, but the tow vehicle will virtually "disappear" as it's caked in dirty slush.
4) If you start seeing chain advisories...time to pull off and park it!

Just my two cents.

Mark
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Old 10-24-2012, 05:58 PM   #12
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Most will want to wait out any storm that requires tire chains, but we use ours frequently for ski trips. The cable type are not expensive and are pretty easy to put on/take off. They are really handy to have on board. I dont go anywhere in winter without them. A few times we would have had to wait a week or more for the chain requirement to be lifted. That much snow is great for skiing, but not if you need to get back to school or work.
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Old 10-25-2012, 09:33 AM   #13
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I drive on a road that often has black ice, almost always in the same area. It usually occurs just after dawn, when the temperature drops a few degrees. Outside temperture probes are helpfull. But the best indicator are your ears and eyes. If you suddenly no longer hear the sound of wet pavement,and/or the vehicle ahead of you is no longer sending up a mist of water, then you could be on black ice.
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