Driving an MX5 in the Snow

Picked up my MX5 last week (S reg 1998) and drove it in snow for the first time. 

Mmm … very interesting.  On a dry road its road holding is superb; however this soon evaporates on a road covered in snow.  In the words of that Paul Simon song, it was “Slip Sliding Away.”  Got within a couple of miles of where I live - Linthwaite - and I daren’t tackle the long hill up from Meltham towards Blackmoorfoot so parked up in a free car park and will pick up (hopefully) tomorrow!  

Perhaps carrying a couple of bags of sand in the back might make it handle better in the show - any other tips? 

It is still a great car though!


 I’ve put my standard wheels back on for the winter (rather than the wide 17" jobbies) and let some of the air out of them for grip but it still lets loose on the snow with any use of the loud pedal. I’ve learned to just keep moving under momentum wherever possible and if I need to move off from a stand still I select second (even third) gear.
Corners going up hills are veeeerrrrry scary indeed. As are corners at the bottom of hills.

 Tyres are the key. 
A couple of times I’ve got away with driving on quite bad snow and ice with Eagle F1s, but you really need to tiptoe around.  Today was my first drive in serious snow with proper “Mud+Snow” rated tyres, and it was a different world.  Yeah, you still need to be very careful, but the grip they find when there ought to be none is really surprising.

 I’m a new owner too - had mine about 3 weeks now! I found, as Halli said, that as long as you don’t try to accelerate at all hard, it seems to be OK, but any sort of enthusiasm on the loud pedal and the back end starts to fishtail.
 I’m quite lucky in that my run to work doesn’t involve any hills and is only 2 1/2 miles, so I could go very carefully the whole way. Yesterday morning still felt more like sledging than driving though, don’t think I got above 10mph the whole way in!
Yesterday evening and this morning were OK - back to driving again, although still slippery. Felt the back end twitch a couple of times.
For reference, I’ve got Toyo Proxy (I think) tyres, which apparently are very good for the '5, but I very much doubt are snow tyres!

I think i must be very lucky … am still running standard tyres and had to deal with some very snow covered roads yesterday and some fairly steep hills and mine just drove up nicely without any problems. I think most of it is down to how smooth you drive and not to do anything too sudden and you’re just fine.

 There were a couple that didn’t make it in yesterday, and the ones that were were very impressed when my very low sports car drove into work.

Maybe the ‘snow plough’ on the front cleared the roads for me ?? haha …

You’re right Ady, smooth is the answer. Smooth and gentle acceleration, braking and cornering. I was taught to use a higher gear on snow and ice, and a lower gear in water.

your motor looks as good snow-bound ady, as it douse in this months mag 

my grandson went though the mag yesterday, saw your spread, and said, wow thats the car that was parked behind us, when we all met up to go to brands hatch last autumn,  star billing for a star car,

I agree with the previous posts, drive as smoothly as possible, but tyres and diff also make a massive difference.

I’ve got Goodyear F1’s fitted and an LSD. In the first lot of snow we had a few weeks ago, after it had been compacted and frozen my car just could not find any traction, the LSD just spinning up uselessly.

From previous posts on the old forum, I know that the idea of putting something heavy in the boot gets a mixed reception, but I have to say that from experience it seems to give my car that extra bit of traction to keep itself moving. This week I’ve borrowed a 32kg battery from work which adds a little more ballast over the rear axle.

To add my tuppeny worth, DSC (Mk3) is great in rain, but a hindrance in snow - if you get stuck in wheelspin mode on one spot DSC will electronically prevent any acceleration in order to stop the spin - when both wheels are spinning freely trying to find traction this doesn’t help. If you get stuck like that, turn DSC off so that YOU can control throttle, not the computer, as you may need to spin the wheels hard to get out. I just did in my car park lol

 Some sound advice here everyone, thanks.
I’ve had my 5 for just under 4 weeks now and it’s my first rear-wheel drive car too so every journey is a learning experience! Yesterday’s snow proved pretty challenging.
I was flying along the A69 from Hexham to Newcastle during the afternoon when it really started to stot down with heavy snow. The car felt extremely twitchy even at 30mph on a flat bit of road so I pulled over, deflated my (no-brand) tyres a fair bit and hoped for the best. I felt the back end go a few times on roundabouts that were particularly deluged with snow but it seemed easy enough to correct with some counter steering and a little blip of throttle in second or third.
All in all, in the snow the 5 is fun if a little unpredictable for a RWD novice like me!

For family fun…take your hardtop out of its bag in the garage, put it on the car, drive to the top of a large hill, remove the hardtop, GENTLY lay it paint side down on the snow, get your family to jump in the inverted hardtop, then push off down the hill, and jump in bobsleigh styleee!!!

Now that’s sledging!!! When exhausted/ cold/ wet…re-fit hardtop, take it home, hang it up in garage, then wait another 18 years for this much snow again.

…and some of you say you never use your hardtop!!! 

I blame it on this month’s photo in the free calendar (which is fab by the way), soon as it went up, it snowed.

My Mk1 is pretty low slung at the back (either lowered or just tired springs) and I usually have to carry tools around. Even though I have Heinz variety tyres the grip on snow has been OK with the weight in the boot, but decidedly Torvill & Dean when empty.

My brother couldn’t get his Mk2.5 up a hill 100 yards from home and had to get the bus (the shame of it)! Whilst chatting about this on the phone he remembered our Dad used to have a front wheel drive Saab with a front wheel handbrake, deliberately put there by the cunning (?) Swedes to limit the spin on ice & snow - like a form of manually applied traction control. Lo & behold, a friend also told me he used to put the handbrake on a little bit to get a grip in his Alfa Spider (though he also said there was no warning light and he burnt out the shoes by leaving it on). Don’t know why this should be any different from driving off in a higher gear though - any thoughts?

Unfortunately I’m unable to test out this snow traction method as my handbrake is just there for decoration. I’ve had the whole system apart and applied every piece of advice gleaned from the forum, but still it doesn’t work. It only passed the MoT because I locked the back brakes on solid and the tester wanted to go home.

Let’s all go drifting at the Spring Rally to prepare for next year’s snow!?!

Well I never thought I would ever see a sensible use for a hrdtp, and the car is a perfect vehicle to transport it too - Bonus!

Does this mean we will all be blocking driving over small railway bridges in Northumberland in September?

Wouldn’t mind that Halli, but Lorraine in that field in May is more tempting!

I never thought about the handbrake thing, but I suppose (in theory at least) it will help to control the power a bit, which if it gets you up the hill at the end of the street, which is the only part of your journey that’s not gritted, it is a good solution.

I’ll try to remember that when the (rest of the) dodgy whether comes

 205 tyres with a Torsen - bloody nightmare in the snow/ice! Makes you look like a right plonker when the slightest touch of throttle spins both the wheels…

I see your Torsen diff and raise you a welded diff. Damn thing doesn’t turn at all unless the rear wheels are spinning. Which is why I drive so slowly.

I’d stick some smilies in here, but you know how it is when you don’t get the options in the edit window and have to start writing bits of code just to get new paragraphs - takes all the fun out of posting.

Let us know how you get on if you try it, my Brother’s worried everyone’s going to be burning out their pads because of this!