Willys

Winter Driving in a SMART...?

63 posts in this topic

OK, as the heading says.....what do the old timers recomend to us first time winter drivers in a Smart car to do..?

Is there anything seriously different about how a Smart handles the winter season..?

 

Are there specific well known things you highly recommend ..?

 

Is there a better tire to buy and would you say it's always better to use 4 winter tires over just the rears?

 

I will hopefully be running a second Smart for my winter beater also....so I may as well set it up as per the "right" way...lol.

 

Suggestions?

Is there any reason to think about the 2" lift kit they sell to get you slightly higher for less chance of belly pan'ing your ride?

Just thinking again outloud...lol

Thanks.

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Drive it the same way you would any rear wheel drive car in the snow.  Actual winter tires certainly help.  Depending on the model you have, traction control may not be helpful if you have to rock the car.... :)

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Now that certainly takes the wind out of the sails doesn't it...!...lol

I was interested in , does the size, length or low belly have any input on winter driving fun?  Then add into the mix all the safety crap....!  Something I noticed yesterday climbing a gravel driveway at my buddies place...the traction control light came on, so that got me wondering, if it does it on a simple easy uphill grade in bright sunny weather, what could it possibly be like in a snow storm etc etc... I'm sure we all can figure out the simple steering into the skid and power her through mentality. But, if the traction control stops this from happening....now what...is it simply a hang on steer into it and glide to a position and then start out again..?   I hate electronic over rides etc, I'm an old long in the tooth rear wheel power sliding mental case who has hated front wheel drive cars for decades after they removed the fish tailing fun of yesteryear.....lol.  Even did a bit of Rallying in England in a Ford Escort way way back....lol.  Now I do hear we can turn this electronic wizzardry off, but it then becomes too much fun for even the most seasoned of lunatics and undrivable?    Hense the silly initial question....what do you experienced Smart Car drivers do special in the winter months when it's knee deep in the white stuff...besides not going out in it...lol.

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I had a RWD 2010 chrysler 300, the smart car is a lot better in winter than the chrysler.

 

The ground clearance is fine(save your money), i would highly recommend good winter tires on all wheels. The only negative difference i noticed with the smart is the front wheel braking grip is bad. When you lightly apply the breaks on any car, only the front brakes engage. So on an icy road, if you lightly apply the breaks the fronts lock up and abs activates. This is due to no weight over the front and the small tires, cornering grip is really good. In general the car is amazing on slippery roads due to less weight being thrown around. I used my smart as a delivery car last winter and i was the only driver that didnt get stuck(most others drive civics). The car has its limits but i would say it is about the same as any other 2wd car in winter. With good winter tires it will be better than a  4x4 pickup with all seasons.

 

The ESP is the best i have ever seen. On an icy down hill highway i could swerve for fun and the car would slide but the esp would apply breaks on the outside wheels of the car and it would straighten back up perfectly in a stable manner. The car knows your steering angle too so if you make a hard turn on ice and start to slide it will apply the inside breaks and you will turn like a tank(very fun and impressive on ice)

 

 

If you want something to do to prepare the car for winter; make a grill block for the upper grill, block off the cabin air intake on the front of the car, check the battery, starter, and glow plugs are all working well. Maybe rustproof the underside of the car. 

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Willys.  Do a little searching here and I think you will find out how to disable the traction control if you really want to.  If I remember correctly you plug something into the diagnostic port.  I did some spirited driving on the backroads of Tennessee in the rain earlier this year and I can tell you the stability control works well.

 

Nigel

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I got 5 litres of Redneck Waxoyl waiting to be sprayed under my Smart.  Probably only need a tenth of that.

 

This disables the traction control...

 

http://www.smartmods.co.uk/index.php?page=details&id=49

 

I'm more worried about keeping warm and safe, but being a SAR volunteer I have all my search kit in the boot.  And yes, it's a blooming tight squeeze in the boot!

Edited by Chopper

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That was great advice from Rob.

I would not disable the traction control. With a short wheel base car you will be in a 360 in a heartbeat.

Spoke to someone yesterday who confirmed this. His reluctor rings were cracked and he drove through the winter. He was going sideways many times and had difficulties even with small hills.

Good winter tires are a must!!!

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I agree great advice given, and expect to be folowing all and any sensible thought patterns and maybe a few not so sensible..lol  Just to see....lol


Maybe we need to set up a day where we can safely play around with our cars on a slippery surface.....away from harm..?  I live 1000 yards from the largest skating rink Ontario owns....but most of the time it's far too deep in snow to easily play with zero ground clearance.  But there are days where it becomes a vast sheet of ice 3 feet thick!....any takers?   lol

Seriously, i plan on 4 snows with the deepest tread pattern i can find. And using the anti skid etc etc  while driving on the streets...it's dangerous enough without adding slippery conditions to the mix.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

ive done 3 winters in mine and personally im kind of tired of it and will be actively searching this fall for a little awd winter beater like a nissan rogue or similar...maybe even an suv

 

i guess it all depends on how much snow you get in your town...i know here its very hard to drive during and after a snowstorm because the snow built up at intersections makes it impossible to actually stop and get going again...often times i just blow stop signs and red lights because i know if i slow too much im done for if i dont have a passenger to start pushing

 

 

i leave my winter tires on all year

Edited by LooseLugNuts

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We have the SUV a RAV4 and a Toyota Echo with 4 deep snows that does go through almost anything, so I'll never be totally stranded.....I am now on the fuel consumption band wagon 100%....so the difference between the RAV4 and the Smart will kill me fuel wise...lol.    But....both Toyotas will totally defeat any snow that comes our way.  That RAV4 will go anywhere...it's surprising and I come from modified Jeeps with lockers front and rear...lol.  For a little run about it's incredable...if you can find one, with a 4 banger buy it. They have oil pump leakage issues.....easy fix.  Ours is a 1999, same up to 2004 if I recall correctly and those are the best years to buy so they say....again just saying...so far so good 372,000kms and still going strong.

 

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I drive mine year round in northern Alberta. 

I have a set of rims from a smart roadster (much wider) and a set of studded nokian hakkapeliittas 

I made sure my coolant was good to -50C (frequently hits -40C here)

I have a Webasto coolant heater installed, and run it while driving sometimes when its really cold. Try not to breath too much when its -40C, windshield will fog over. 

As Rob said, I block the exterior air intake for the cabin heater. And I have a perfectly fitted piece of waxed cardboard made to fit over my rad. 

The traction control is 100% a life saver, especially at highway speeds. However, I have a disabler switch incase I get the car planted. 

Door handles will freeze and doors wont close. If you have the option to park inside use it. If not, carry a heat gun, or hairdryer with extension cord. 

Wait a minute...

Why do I drive this thing again!?!?!?!?

 

webasto.jpg

Brrrrr.jpg

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OK, now that was funny!!!!


That's more like it.....excellent.....love the humor in owning a smart....and driving it during the winter months....OK, you have my interest a Wabasto like the tractor trailers use?  OK, what truck and etc etc....just curious...lol.   And great choice in tires, so they make a set that fit our rims? Didn't someone say wider tires etc won't fit the front due to not being able to turn them? I don't know? What am i missing? What size tires..?

 

 

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Four real snow tires and you’re OK.

Remember engine weight is over the traction wheels.

I’ve driven my ‘05 thru 13 winters with no problems.

Just drive ‘smart’.

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i run 185/55/r15 on all four  (450 stock rims rear and 451 stock rear rims in the front)

 

the fronts rub on turns but they wouldnt if id get my arse in gear and shim out the front fenders a bit

 

 

(my smart is a 450)

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We drove ours across the USA from Michigan to Seattle in a snowstorm in 2010.  No problem at all on 4 snowies.  We were the fastest thing on the snow covered Interstate highways.  Coldest temperature was -26.

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"Real snow tires" for passenger cars don't exist in this country anymore.  The WINTER TIRES are all we can hope for and they are only good for icy conditions and cold dry roads because of their special rubber compound.  When deep snow is encountered, the winter tires are about as effective as an aggressive set of all seasons.  Better than summer tires from a smart, but still not too useful

 

Tires with huge blocks and spaces in between the blocks are better for deep snow.  (similar but not quite as extreme as knobby tires on a motocross motorcycle is best)

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I can't agree more on tires.....we should be able to buy the style of tread we want and need, we have been brain washed into thinking all seasons are far superior to a good knobbie tread pattern.....sure they may slide more in a wet or dry accident situation but, when you need  traction they out perform everything.  I don't know if any manufacturer makes a good tread pattern any more besides hakipilita...or however it's spelled...lol. They used to be the top end tire of choice especially after the bick block tires started disappearing.

A crying shame imho....oh well soon time to start the search, maybe next week...lol. see exactly what is out there in way of a snow tire. Get them while the getting is easy.

 

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Nice one Tolsen.

 

The first photo below is a Mickey Thompson Baja.  A little more suitable for use on road or off, if you happen to be in a "snow belt" area.  The MTB is a little more like something that I would love to install on my smart winter beater.  The second one pictured below is a Carlisle Snow Hog .. Not the best for on road use, but certainly going to get you "there and back again" in the deep snow.

Smart snows 02.png

Smart snows.jpg

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Close tolsen. 

Have a look here 

https://www.nokiantires.com/winter-tires/nokian-hakkapeliitta-9/

Best winter tire going. I have them on everything.

 

And Willys:

The front tires on my roadster rims are as wide as the back tires usually are. Back tires are even wider. I dont remember the exact sizes, they are in storage now. But no turning issues. 

The webasto is a TSL17, same model as used in a Kenworth. 

Webasto.png

Nokian_Hakkapeliitta_9.jpg

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OH, and if you read the specs on the webasto. It moves 2 Gal/min (smart holds about 5L with the websasto installed). Fuel consumption at FULL bore is .16Gal/hr (600ML) however, it takes about 11 minutes at -30 to bring the little car to operating temp.  

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I used to work for a trucking company and they used frieghtliners new, conventionals.....I personally didin't have to work on the wasbaso heaters....but remember them.

  As for rediculous tire suggestions, look up Super Swampers, it's what I used to run year round....on my Cj5....excellent for what they were designed for, but not much good on icy conditions..lol.  I ran even more rediculous tires on my ATV just to play in the swamps, but they had such deep lugs on anything less than sand they'd shake the fillings out of your head...lol.

As for studs, sorry not allowed where I am, pussies..lol...the good old days.....light them up at night being a total idiot...lol.  I am guessing one reason they banned them....lol

 

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Posted (edited) · Report post

9 minutes ago, kdubya said:

OH, and if you read the specs on the webasto. It moves 2 Gal/min (smart holds about 5L with the websasto installed). Fuel consumption at FULL bore is .16Gal/hr (600ML) however, it takes about 11 minutes at -30 to bring the little car to operating temp.  

11 minutes ain't bad at those temps...lol  And a bit of an over kill no...lol

 

At that size it would fit where the EGR system came from maybe..?

 

Edited by Willys

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Posted (edited) · Report post

No, it mounts under the driver seat beneath the car, sort of under the fuel filter. A custom bracket needs to be made to hold it. There are a few threads about it on here. The pic is deceiving. it larger than it seems. 9"X4"X6.5"

Also it needs to be plumbed into the RETURN fuel line, Not the supply line,  contrary to common sense thinking. It wont pull fuel otherwise. 

And overkill..... Not necessarily. After about 20-30 min the engine block is 60C. It has a high temp shutoff, it will power down, then kick back in at the low temp level. It will maintain temp for 2 hours. I wouldnt suggest running it more than 1 cycle before starting as it will drain the battery. BUT if I'm parked and want to leave asap.. I dont want to have to wait 30-45 min to start the car. it will start easily after 10 minutes or less. And throw heat instantly. 

Edited by kdubya
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Nokia, or Nokian  as they 're known now, are still going strong.  I ran Nokian Weatherproof boots on my  Ford last winter, and the little FWD Eurobox got me up a hill that defeated the LR4 that was trying to follow.  This year I can't be arsed.  If it snows that badly I won't go to work, and if work don't like it I'll give them my 28 days noticed of my intention to retire.

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