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If you are driving a car with a manual gearbox, the question of starting on the frozen ground often arises at winter time: first or second? (gear)

The starting when the ground is frozen

You can definitely get going from the first gear if it is not too snowy or if the road is already clear. On the other hand, if a layer of snow is already there under your wheels, the best option is to start driving while in second gear.

But why? The torque developed by your gearbox when shifting to the second gear makes it possible not to leave the wheels skating if the resistance found on the road is too weak. At worst, your engine will stall and you will not aggravate the situation by “polishing” the ice or snow under your wheels. Remember if you have ever gone ice-skating. There comes a time when the machine comes and polishes the ice. That is also the time, right afterwards, when it suddenly becomes a little bit more of a challenge to skate (for the beginners like me). Because the ice is “better” (for skating) – read “a lot more slippery”.

Vehicles fitted with ESP (trajectory corrector) react very well on dry or wet ground. However, they somewhat do less well on frozen ground or snow.

Our advice here: deactivate the ESP when starting driving on the snow and, if possible, prefer a trajectory aiming towards fresh snow which will actually prove less slippery.

Stay safe!

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