Join the Car Talk Community!

Does revving the engine and spinning the tires in snow cause any damage? Ever wonder?

RSS
Dear Tom and Ray:



Even though we live in Virginia, where we rarely get more than a few inches of snow, on occasion we do get a big storm. We had a storm this past winter where we got 8 inches of the stuff. My husband and I have a long gravel driveway, and rather than shovel the whole thing, my hubby likes to take the car and run it up and down this 60-foot driveway to compact the snow. To do this requires getting a good run, as the driveway goes up a slight slope. My question is: Does it hurt the car when he gets stuck, revs the engine and makes the tires spin? He will do this over and over again, spinning the tires for what I feel is an extended period of time. We have a new car, and I don't want him to ruin it! -- Karin

TOM: Oh, Karin, I hate to tell you this, but he's probably having the time of his life. This is his version of PlayStation 2. He's pretending he's a rally driver, trying to see how far he can make it up the driveway (to him, Pikes Peak). Sliding around and spinning the wheels are half the fun.

RAY: If he's spinning the wheels to the point where you can see smoke or smell burning rubber, then he certainly is shortening the life of the tires. He's probably not doing any other damage, though, unless he's revving the engine up near its red line or flinging up gravel and chipping the paint.

TOM: But here's a solution he may go for. Get him to buy a set of temporary chains. They attach to the driven wheels of the car, and they give you very good traction in the snow. He can even put them on the night before a storm and be ready to go the next morning. It won't be quite as challenging to make it up the driveway, but maybe he can pretend he's a superhero with magic powers ("Nothing can stop the snow-chained Harold!").

RAY: The chains aren't something you'd want to use on the plowed streets, because they'd be unsafe, noisy, uncomfortable and they'd make your teeth chatter. So he'd take them off after clearing the driveway and toss them in the garage until next time. But for driving through actual snow, they're hard to beat.
Tags (Browse All)

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login / Signup
Support for Car Talk is provided by:

Donate Your Car,
Support Your NPR Station

...and get a tax break!

Get Started

Find a Mechanic


Go



Submit


Rocket Fuel