More and more cars have a very useful function for driving on snow. You still have to use it.

A few flakes and it’s a rout. Almost every winter, the same images of chaos on the roads appear in a loop on television screens as soon as a few centimeters of snow cover the arteries of large cities. This makes the “mountain people” laugh, much more accustomed to this phenomenon and equipped accordingly to travel on icy ground. If snow chains – strongly recommended for driving a car in certain regions of France between November and March – are the best way to cope with harsh winter conditions, more and more cars are offering driving assistance for driving on the roads. slippery.

Manufacturers reserve this function for their models equipped with an automatic transmission. It is not a coincidence. Beyond the fact that automatic gearboxes are gradually supplanting “old-fashioned” manual transmissions, the automatic transmission is the least suitable for driving on snow. All the experts will tell you, flexibility is the key word for moving a car on snowy ground. This is why it is always advisable to start directly in second gear, therefore with a low engine speed, to avoid spinning your wheels and skidding. But this possibility, which is offered on manual gearboxes since it is at the driver’s discretion, did not exist until a few years ago on automatic vehicles.

This is why car brands have added a driving mode alongside the traditional “eco”, “comfort” and “sport” modes. This is the “snow” mode, developed to facilitate driving on icy roads. It is materialized by a button or is selected using a dial, most often placed on the automatic transmission gear selector positioned with a tap on the steering wheel, a tap with the location of the manual gear knobs. Depending on the manufacturer, the symbol varies somewhat. It’s a snowflake at Volkswagen, a snowflake next to a car at Peugeot or even a snowflake and a car above the writing “Snow” at Hyundai. Simply press this button or place the dial on the symbol to activate “snow” mode.

What does this change about driving? This “snow” mode starts the car directly in second gear, which reduces engine power and prevents it from slipping on patches of frost. It is also used to adjust the transmission settings between each gear with the engine speed at its lowest for more progressive acceleration. The aim is to avoid as much as possible too sudden accelerator strokes, which are very quickly punished by a slide that is difficult to control on an icy road.

If this recent technology is a helping hand in the event of snowfall, we can only strongly advise you to properly equip your vehicle if you have to make more trips on snowy roads. Fitting your car with 4-season tires or winter tires, more suited to winter conditions, is strongly recommended to increase wheel grip on slippery surfaces. Snow chains remain a must, even if fitting them remains a mystery for many motorists…