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Visited friends over Christmas who live at the bottom of a long, very steep driveway - I'd guess something like 25-30%, maybe more in places. Plenty of snow but plowed out pretty well. I made it down to the bottom OK in my new (3 week old) 2019 Sport but was a bit concerned about getting out again. It snowed again overnight and I was leaving the next morning after my friend ran his tractor mounted snow blower attachment over the road. I wasn't sure of the right combination of features to use for the ascent so used snow mode in D4. Made the first part of the hill OK then had to turn a sharp bend and head up the steepest part. Things were going pretty well and I was getting some confidence in the AWD - until everything started to spin out and I found myself sliding backward towards the bend and a steep drop off with only a power pole at the bottom to cushion my fall. My wife was ready to bail and I have to confess to being less than confident of the right tactics for this dilemma. As it was I drifted to the inside corner of the bend and eased to a stop in deep snow against the bank. I don't know what my feet were doing during all this but the park brake had been deployed. Not sure if this was intentional or I was just bracing myself.

The tires the vehicle came with are Firestone Destination rated M & S and I won't be going through another winter with these. I guess my question is, given the conditions, what would have been the right combination of settings to tackle the hill? or with the combination of ice and gravity maybe it wouldn't have made any difference.

After a couple of tractor buckets of sand, I made it up without further embarrassment. My friend was gloating that he has no trouble getting up in his F150 (studded tires) but I really felt like he was questioning not only my choice of vehicle but also my driving skills (I'll only concede the second part).
 

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Welcome to the Ridgeline Owners Club, @Pran!

I'm not the best source of snow driving advice since I've always lived in Texas, but here are a few thoughts:

1. The factory tires are "all seasons", so they won't perform as well as dedicated winter tires and certainly not as well as studded tires on hard-packed snow or ice.

2. I'd guess you applied the parking brake inadvertently during a panic situation. If the parking brake is applied and you accelerate, the front wheels will try to move the vehicle, but the rear wheels will be trying to stop the vehicle which can result in a skid. Also, the parking brake will prevent the stability assist, agile handling assist, all-wheel drive, and anti-lock braking systems from operating properly.

3. None of these safety systems can overcome the laws of physics or increase traction, but they can and do help keep the vehicle on its intended course. In certain aspects, these systems make the vehicle more capable than it would be in the hands of a professional driver of a vehicle without these systems.

4, Ground clearance is the Ridgeline's biggest hindrance in deep snow.

5. Its AWD system is one of the most effective available on any vehicle at any price when it comes to handling and performance on slick surfaces.

6. Most importantly, even a 1973 Plymouth Duster with studded winter tires will be better in the snow and ice than a brand new Subaru with all-season tires.
 

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The studded tires are the key. And sidebar if you're going to brake use the regular brakes not the parking brake.

The traction control in the Ridgeline is outstanding. If you let ti do it's job you'll drive circles around Detroit pickups in slippery conditions.
 

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While I am not a fan of studded tires, proper modern winter tires are key for extreme winter driving conditions. In the short term, make sure you weight over your rear axle a couple hundred pounds to assist the rear wheels in gaining traction. Also dropping tire pressure even 4 or 5 lbs can really assist with traction.
And finally, exercise caution. A 30% slope is CRAZY steep! That is literally the slope of a ski hill! Vehicles loose traction all the time on 15% slopes. No shame in parking and walking, particularly when you run the risk of thousands of dollars of body damage or medical expenses.
 

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Welcome to the Ridgeline Owners Club, @Pran!

I'm not the best source of snow driving advice since I've always lived in Texas, but here are a few thoughts:

1. The factory tires are "all seasons", so they won't perform as well as dedicated winter tires and certainly not as well as studded tires on hard-packed snow or ice.

2. I'd guess you applied the parking brake inadvertently during a panic situation. If the parking brake is applied and you accelerate, the front wheels will try to move the vehicle, but the rear wheels will be trying to stop the vehicle which can result in a skid. Also, the parking brake will prevent the stability assist, agile handling assist, all-wheel drive, and anti-lock braking systems from operating properly.

3. None of these safety systems can overcome the laws of physics or increase traction, but they can and do help keep the vehicle on its intended course. In certain aspects, these systems make the vehicle more capable than it would be in the hands of a professional driver of a vehicle without these systems.

4, Ground clearance is the Ridgeline's biggest hindrance in deep snow.

5. Its AWD system is one of the most effective available on any vehicle at any price when it comes to handling and performance on slick surfaces.

6. Most importantly, even a 1973 Plymouth Duster with studded winter tires will be better in the snow and ice than a brand new Subaru with all-season tires.
Before children, my mother had a 73 Plymouth Duster, (she also had a 67 Chevelle SS). Like you said, laws of physics. Without studded tires, driving on ice is always a gamble. Doesn't matter how awesome an AWD system is, if all four of your tires are on ice, you're going to slide.
 

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...After a couple of tractor buckets of sand, I made it up without further embarrassment. My friend was gloating that he has no trouble getting up in his F150 (studded tires) but I really felt like he was questioning not only my choice of vehicle but also my driving skills (I'll only concede the second part).
I am not at all embarrassed for you Pran, but are instead embarrassed for your "friends" who were dumb enough to buy that house. No doubt studs were the magic for the F150, and he SHOULD HAVE sanded that drive before you attempted it.

Glad that (apparently) there was no damage to your vehicle. And I have no idea what you might have done better to save the slide into the snowbank. Good enuf IMO!
 

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As that guy as already figured out you need good tires to tackle a steep driveway in the winter. It doesn't help that he really didn't make it easier for friends to visit either. He was just being a PIA IMO about it. When I wanted someone to take my driveway that was a pia in the winter at a previous house we owned I always cleared it and put salt on it. I didn't want to see the people in the ravine that was off to the side of it.

Steve
 

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Interesting friend you have there. If I had a place like that and had people visiting I would surely want to provide a safe way in and out. Did he not warn you of the drive before you came? And then he let you try and drive out on all season tires?
 

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Pran, your experience reminds me of a similar situation I found myself in years ago.

Our house is at the top of a hill about 40' higher than the road, our concrete driveway is probably 200' long, 'S' shaped and of varying incline. The driveway is lined with mature trees on either side.

Back in '08 I was driving an Audi A4 Turbo Quattro, 6-speed manual, APR refreshed computer bumped output to about 240hp and 295lb-ft. Stock rims with Continental Pro Contact Grand Touring All-Season tires.

Snow is very unusual in North Mississippi, we usually get a dusting once or twice a year, but that year we got about 8-10" of powder. I had anticipated the snow and parked at the street that night and awoke before dawn and needed to get to campus where I worked as University Photographer. I was the first person to drive through our neighborhood, traction was no problem, but the car sat so low that the snow was coming over the hood and windshield so visibility was poor. I passed only a handful of other cars out that day and there were as many cars trucks and SUVs in the ditches as there were on the road.

After shooting campus photos for several hours the sun was out and the powder was turning to mush so I headed home. Lots more cars out on the road and lots more in the ditches. Feeling cocky, I decided to drive up the slushy driveway to the house. I made it almost to the crest of the hill when all forward momentum stopped. All four tires spinning forward, I started to slide backward. I shifted out of gear and stood on the brakes, still sliding backwards in a straight line, but the driveway curved and I was headed for the trees. I steered hard left and thankfully the passenger side tires dropped off the driveway and caught enough traction in the snow covered dirt to bring the car to a stop. I eased the car all the way down the driveway to the street and left it there till the slush melted all the way.

Zroger73 nailed it.
"3. None of these safety systems can overcome the laws of physics or increase traction, but they can and do help keep the vehicle on its intended course. In certain aspects, these systems make the vehicle more capable than it would be in the hands of a professional driver of a vehicle without these systems."

AWD is awesome, but tires are the only contact with the road and make a world of difference. AWD + zero traction = zero traction.
 

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I felt like I had more steering control over where my Ridgeline (stock tires) was going on my 300' downhill slide a couple of weeks ago than other vehicles I've been in on the same hill. I was even more impressed at how easily she climbed back up that hill in Snow mode. I hate that backward slide!

I had to have an ambulance ride a few days ago. It wasn't quite so icy, but they managed to make it both ways in 4WD on their Bridgestones. They laughed and said no one has ever asked what kind of tires they had on the way to the hospital. LOL
 

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Pran, your experience reminds me of a similar situation I found myself in years ago.

Our house is at the top of a hill about 40' higher than the road, our concrete driveway is probably 200' long, 'S' shaped and of varying incline. The driveway is lined with mature trees on either side.

Back in '08 I was driving an Audi A4 Turbo Quattro, 6-speed manual, APR refreshed computer bumped output to about 240hp and 295lb-ft. Stock rims with Continental Pro Contact Grand Touring All-Season tires.

Snow is very unusual in North Mississippi, we usually get a dusting once or twice a year, but that year we got about 8-10" of powder. I had anticipated the snow and parked at the street that night and awoke before dawn and needed to get to campus where I worked as University Photographer. I was the first person to drive through our neighborhood, traction was no problem, but the car sat so low that the snow was coming over the hood and windshield so visibility was poor. I passed only a handful of other cars out that day and there were as many cars trucks and SUVs in the ditches as there were on the road.

After shooting campus photos for several hours the sun was out and the powder was turning to mush so I headed home. Lots more cars out on the road and lots more in the ditches. Feeling cocky, I decided to drive up the slushy driveway to the house. I made it almost to the crest of the hill when all forward momentum stopped. All four tires spinning forward, I started to slide backward. I shifted out of gear and stood on the brakes, still sliding backwards in a straight line, but the driveway curved and I was headed for the trees. I steered hard left and thankfully the passenger side tires dropped off the driveway and caught enough traction in the snow covered dirt to bring the car to a stop. I eased the car all the way down the driveway to the street and left it there till the slush melted all the way.

Zroger73 nailed it.
"3. None of these safety systems can overcome the laws of physics or increase traction, but they can and do help keep the vehicle on its intended course. In certain aspects, these systems make the vehicle more capable than it would be in the hands of a professional driver of a vehicle without these systems."

AWD is awesome, but tires are the only contact with the road and make a world of difference. AWD + zero traction = zero traction.
a4-1511190257.gif
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks everyone for the responses. I bought a set of Toyo GSi5's to give me greater peace of mind. Still a couple of months of winter left yet and a 3 hour trip north next week which I'm not looking forward to but will feel more confident with all those little bits of crushed walnut in the compound.

I always had sandbags in the back of my Ford Ranger in winter. Is there any advantage to adding weight to the RL AWD?
 

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Thanks everyone for the responses. I bought a set of Toyo GSi5's to give me greater peace of mind. Still a couple of months of winter left yet and a 3 hour trip north next week which I'm not looking forward to but will feel more confident with all those little bits of crushed walnut in the compound.

I always had sandbags in the back of my Ford Ranger in winter. Is there any advantage to adding weight to the RL AWD?
Not really. The max drive goes to the front wheels and they have an engine on top of them. Best thing you can do for the rear is to have a full tank of gas.
 

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Good work Pran,
As tough as it is to shell out for a new set of winter tires, just remind yourself that even a minor bit of body work from sliding off the road is easily more than $1000.
While there MAY be some benefit to adding weight to the rear for traction, the difference is going to be very slight compared to the difference in your Ranger. With your new tires, I don’t imagine you would notice a difference.
 

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Same situation in reverse. I had the original wheels on my 06 RT with above average A/S tires and last winter the small amount of snow driving was a breeze. This winter I have 2019 Honda Pilot EX-L wheels with factory A/S tires. Was in snow over the weekend and I was frightened at how badly I was slipping and sliding. Plan for next winter is run some blizzaks or similar on my factory 17 inch wheels from December through March and then my 18 alloys the rest of the year. Problem solved.
 

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Since no one else brought it up I have to ask the OP...

Did you activate the traction control button setting it for snow? Some report that setting it for sand in snow works well, sometimes better than the snow setting.

Lastly, if not, why not???

:unsure:
 

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Well sand or snow isn't ice. In snow or sand you bog down and spin but if you lift the gas you stay where you are. If you're sliding on ice you're just a passenger till you stop.

As said before; in this circumstance studded tires are the best solution. Chains would work too but they are really a PITA.
 
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