driving in the snow

Roger M. Woodbury rmwoodbury at downeast.net
Wed Dec 4 08:32:34 EST 2002

I found your post about driving the Quattro in the snow for the first time.
I had several quick reactions.

First of all, Quattro does not repeal the laws of physics, and if you are
plowing into a corner uncontrolled, the car is out of control, and you are
simply going too fast for the condition of the road surface.  On most road
surfaces, you will not correct that slide before you hit something.

Now, having said that, I have some other comments from my personal
experience driving Quattros in coastal Maine's capricious winter weather.
You didn't say which car you were driviing, so I will make some comments
based on surmises.

The first question I would ask has to do with the tires and brakes.  If you
were in the 99 Audi with Tiptronic, and plowed, then I would hazard a guess
that the tires on the car might be original.  If they are, they need to be
replaced right now.  My experience with Audi Quattros in the winter is that
once the tires are past half worn, they lead to what I call "Quattro
Confusion"....because they have insufficient grip, the Quattro system tries
to find a way to make the car go in whatever direction the tires want to go,
and that can mean that it tries to make the car in all directions...makes
for an entertaining drive in heavy slush.  From my experience, Quattro's
generally will get around 25,000 miles to a set of tires when winter driving
is an issue.

If your near shunt was in the earlier car, I wonder if you have a rear brake
issue.  If you were hard on the brakes in the skid, with the antilock
chattering like mad and still charging forward, then a combination of
excessive speed, and lack of rear braking effectiveness could cause the car
to merrily charge straight ahead.

A whole lot of people on this list will urge you to buy some sort of
dedicated winter tire.  I have NEVER used dedicated winter tires on any car
other than the rear wheel drive BMW's and Mercedes that I have owned, and on
those cars, I used Semperit studded snow tires on all four wheels.....(more
than ten years ago).  But on Audi Quattro, I have found that in all
conditions, at moderate speeds, the car was 100% controllable, so long as
the tires were at least 50% tread depth remaining.

The only time that I got a Quattro stuck, was driving into my driveway with
my first Quattro, an '87 5000 CS Quattro Avant.  The tires were new, and we
had had about fourteen inches of snow.  I managed to plow the quarter mile
of dirt road leading to my driveway from the main road, but as I turned into
the car's normal parking space, the car simply stopped.  I had both
differentials locked, and the car just wouldn't budge.  When I got out of
the car, the snow berm was even with the top of the hood in front, and the
car was nicely sitting on a pad of hard packed snow.  I left the engine
running and the car in gear, and got out of the car to see the four wheels
slowly turning all by themselves, as the car was completely suspended on the


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