Can you, and should you drive your Miata On Snow?

Now that we are in midwinter, we can discuss fun topics like the one we have for you today, and hopefully, help you drive your Miata in the low levels of grip provided by (hopefully) snow and ice in your area.

How to Prepare Mazda Miata for Winter

We are sure that most of you have followed our advice about, How to Prepare your Miata for Winter, and have done the few important checks, like the coolant’s resistance to freezing, fitting winter tires on your “sled”, and stockpiling it with the few necessities like water, and power bars.

Instead of boring you with the types of friction there are and the physics behind them, we decided to simplify it before the article gives you a headache or puts you to sleep, so let’s just go with the simple, yet very important fact to remember throughout winter driving.

Winter Tire Tracks

Snow has only 15 percent grip compared to dry asphalt.

While winter tires do raise this coefficient of grip, we believe that for your safety it is very important to remember this and adjust your speed accordingly.

We’ll get to driving faster later, first and of utmost importance is for you to be safe behind the wheel of your Miata.

Many think that a lightweight vehicle with no engine pushing down on the driven axle is something to be avoided in the snow and ice, however, they would be wrong because all it takes is a set of good winter tires for the Miata to become as unstoppable as a snowplow.

It is the very same lightweight that helps the Miata corner faster than most sports cars that keeps it from getting stuck in the winter, as well as stopping faster than most of the other cars in the snow.

You see, the Miata tips the scale at about 1000 kg, and most compact cars weigh in about 1400-1500kg these days, and that is an increase of almost 50% more kinetic energy (Newton’s first law of motion says; an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and direction unless acted upon by force) which needs to be forced by the tires to turn or stop in the available 15% grip.

Yeah, I know I promised not to bother you with the physics, but safe driving is directly related to physics, sorry.

So what is the best way to successfully drive in snow?

Well the first thing you should do, if available, is find an empty parking lot and feel the levels of grip that the car actually has and see how it performs.
By “feel the levels of grip”, we do not mean immediately slamming on the gas and doing skids, we mean seeing for yourself how fast does the car stop, how does the car accelerate, and how does it turn.

After getting used to these poor levels of grip the next thing to remember is patience.

In order to be safe while driving in snow, you need to be patient with the vehicle, as well as with other traffic on the road, remember not everybody on the road is a car enthusiast and their skills might not be as good as yours.

All the usual input on the steering wheel, accelerator or brakes, needs to be much slower and elegant because rapid input on snow brings nothing more than just a simple loss of grip, and losing grip is what we try to avoid at all times so you can be safe.

Additionally, due to the lack of grip, it is advisable to be early on the upshift and early on the downshift as well.

This means that, while accelerating at lower RPMs the engine will not be pushing too much torque to the wheels and lose traction, and while keeping the engine at higher revolutions during deceleration will provide more engine braking and slow the vehicle down much quicker and safer.
Another very important thing to remember.

If by any chance you get sideways (not that we are suggesting) do your best not to overcorrect, because this is one of the biggest reasons why cars end up on the side of the road in a ditch.

While even novice drivers can handle a small burst of oversteer, many drivers tend to be late when it is time to get the wheels straight, ending up with what bikers call a tank slapper or a fishtailing car, so keep the corrections to the necessary minimum if you get in trouble.

Now get in your beloved Miata, enjoy the snow, have fun and remember, stay safe.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Main Menu