The futuristic vibe inherent in the smart car appeals to car enthusiasts. Ever since the launch of the first smart car back in 1994 in Switzerland, these intelligent vehicles have been in the buzz. All these years, different smart car models have hit the streets. Besides, global carmakers have come up with models mimicking the original Smart Car.
You may have the common query: how good is your smart car when it comes to handling ice and snow. To answer this question, we have cited specific information in this article. This way, you can make an intelligible decision before proceeding to purchase.
What are smart cars?
Smart cars are futuristic vehicles that come with AI-backed mechanisms. If you are familiar with smart homes and wearables, you already know how these systems leverage data to enhance the performance of equipment. The same principle holds for smart cars. It capitalizes on the available data to enhance the driving experience. Your car’s computer banks on its information resources. This data, with proper incorporation, refines the overall driving experience.
Are smart cars good in snow and ice?
Smart cars are capable of tackling ice and snow, but they won’t bail you out of snowy terrains all the time. Therefore, they aren’t the safest option for people driving on snow or ice. Nevertheless, you can install the necessary gears to combat snowy paths with these cars to ensure a substantial degree of safety.
For instance, many smart car owners switch to winter tires to negotiate the challenges. Studded tires can even enhance the car’s performance on ice and snow. Although you might encounter challenges in finding branded snow tires of this size, high-grade snow tires actually shape your experience. Plowing through heavy layers of snow won’t be a challenge with the right accessories.
Potential buyers must note that smart car manufacturers do not design them to tackle snowy terrains. However, these cars come with sophisticated safety features to negotiate snow, such as an anti-lock brake system, and an electronic stability program to optimize stability and transaction. Therefore, these cars won’t skid on snow even if you apply brakes aggressively.
Also, smart cars are not as heavy as ordinary vehicles. Therefore, you might find it challenging to gain traction while plowing through snowy terrains. The clearance in smart cars is only around 6 inches. So, it’s wise to avoid terrains with snow more than 5 inches deep. In case of moderate or light snow, smart car owners won’t face any issues.
Do all smart cars come with a snow mode?
No, the smart car does not come with a snow mode. The reason is, smart car manufacturers do not design these cars exclusively to tackle ice and snow, or wintery conditions. Therefore, the snow mode feature is absent in most smart cars. Driving through low to moderate snow conditions won’t bother owners, as long as they get snow tires and some advanced safety features. Under no condition should you drive a smart car over snow deeper than five inches.
How much snow can your smart car handle?
Compared to SUVs, smart cars have lower ground clearance. While SUVs that comfortably plow through snow and ice have around 8 inches of ground clearance, smart cars have only 6 inches of space. Evidently, smart cars wouldn’t be the ideal choice to tackle snow deeper than 5 inches. For areas experiencing heavy snowfall all round the year, a dedicated SUV would be a better pick.
Coming to driving on ice, smart cars are fine for the pursuit. However, don’t try this unless you install snow tires. Experienced drivers can drive smart cars on snow, but with extreme caution. With minimal speed, careful turning, and less-frequent braking, smart cars can be fine on ice. Smart cars are light in weight, so they won’t need too much braking power. This way, you can maintain low speed while driving on ice.
Should you use snow tires on smart cars?
Of course, you should use snow tires on your smart car to drive through wintery conditions. Experts recommend snow tires for all types of cars while driving through snow, and not solely for smart cars. With these specialized tires, you can enjoy better handling while driving through slippery conditions. This would also significantly lower stopping distances.
The tire compound in snow tires perfectly grips the surface or the road. In lower temperatures, this helps in reducing traction. Snow tires retain their flexibility and softness despite the freezing conditions. Branded snow tires come with a special tread pattern. This seamlessly pushes away snow and makes way for the tire to grip the road surface.
Even if your smart car comes with traction systems and ESP, make sure not to overlook snow tires. This ensures additional grip, warranting the best performance of your vehicle on the snow.
Features to look for to drive in snow and ice
There’s no point denying the lack of traction when you drive through snowy roads. Naturally, you would look out for effective features in your smart car that would deliver a breezy driving experience and mitigate risk. Roads with ice and snow on the surface turn out to be slippery. So, it makes sense to check whether the smart car you are willing to purchase comes adequately equipped with the right features to address these challenges.
Take a look at the prime features that smart cars should have to make them suitable for snowy roads.
To deal with cold weather conditions, smart cars should come integrated with an all-wheel system. The wheels, under snowy and icy conditions, need direct power and maximum grip. However, most smart cars come without this feature. Rather, these cars come with a powerful rear-wheel drive system. This is a viable solution to driving on paths with low to moderate snow. You can seamlessly use your front wheels to handle the steering. For acceleration, the rear wheels would kick into action.
ESP (Electronic stability program)
The ESP functions as an electronic component to detect the skidding of the car. This dedicated system also detects movements in the steering wheel that do not correspond to the running gear orientation. Next, the system resolves such problems in two ways.
- Firstly, the ESP generates tension on the outer front wheels’ brakes. This can help the smart car rebalance oversteers, particularly when the terrain is slippery.
- Secondly, it straightens the rear inner wheel’s trajectory in case there is a loss of grip on the driving wheel on slippery surfaces.
As a result, the car won’t skid or spin on slippery surfaces, and you can retain proper control of the vehicle. Since 2012, all smart cars come with an ESP as standard.
All modern smart car models come with the traction control feature. This feature can identify instances where a particular wheel rotates more than the others. This might lead to a reduction in traction while driving. With a traction control system, the wheels won’t be rotating excessively. Therefore, the driver would be able to retain control of the car. However, you might come across certain exceptions while driving through slippery hills, sleet, slush, deep snow, or icy roads. Under such circumstances, smart cars need a certain amount of wheelspin, so that the car’s rear wheels can dig themselves out from the slippery debris or snow and gain traction once more.
In smart cars, active steering happens to be an optional component. However, when you hit winter roads, experts highly recommend using power steering. With this system, the car would need pressurized hydraulic fluid to seamlessly steer the car. This would ease up the process of maneuvering your vehicle. While navigating through low-traction surfaces in winter, power steering can come in extremely handy. Apart from this, driving assistance and an anti-lock braking system are two of the other features you should look for in your smart car.
Currently, most of the smart car models can handle low temperatures in winter. The manufacturers integrate battery components and heating systems that can last long even in freezing temperatures. However, electric smart cars are not as good as their fuel-powered counterparts when it comes to tackling low temperatures. Evidently, if you reside somewhere that experiences sub-zero temperatures, it’s wise to settle with a diesel or petrol smart car rather than an EV. In the process, you can easily navigate through low to moderate snow on the roads.