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Can You Drive a Corvette in the Winter? | ‘Tis the season for getting snow!


We are in the middle of a blizzard here in Kansas City!! BUT … I’ll give it to the Corvette Product Manager Harlan Charles. He never lets a blizzard get in the way of driving his Corvette. But when you live in Michigan what else are you to do!?

On Tuesday, Harlan posted this photo of a 2019 Corvette ZR1 Coupe, outfitted with the ZTK Performance Package no less, in a snow-covered driveway. Many are wondering how he even gets the car out of the driveway, but remember the Corvette team equips their test cars with Michelin Alpin PA4 all-season tires.

The picture was also accompanied by an appropriate holiday message:
“Dashing through the snow…….Have a ZR1-derfull holiday!”

Harlan Charles’ ZR1 Coupe with the ZTK Performance Package

Harlan Charles firmly believes the Corvette is not a summer-only car.

Just look at how Corvette’s product & marketing manager gets to work in January (below). In spite of a snowstorm that blanketed his neighborhood with 10.6 inches of snow, Charles drove his Stingray all the way to the GM Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit (though he did admit that he put the top up for the commute).

Though driving your Corvette Stingray in winter is challenging, it certainly isn’t impossible. Let these 5 tips help you keep all four wheels on the road for your snowy cruise.  (Late-model only – Vintage winter/storage information coming NEXT)

01. Change Your Tires

Harlan Charles on the way to work.

The Michelin Pilot Super Sport is a great tire for the Corvette Stingray. But it just isn’t made to handle icy weather or snow-packed roads.

As a summer tire, they are “really good in the wet, and they’re really good in the dry. They’re not really good in the snow,” says Jim Knowles, original equipment expert for Michelin.

“When you get down to freezing temperatures or close to freezing temperatures, they’re really not designed to work in that kind of environment.”

By changing to a winter or all-season tire that’s rated for an ultra-high performance car like the Corvette, you can get the traction needed to navigate winter roads.

02. Corvette to handle differently

Two conditions are going to change the way your Corvette brakes, steers and corners. The first, understandably, is the slick road surface. The second comes from the extra traction, higher rolling resistance and other features on your winter tires.

“A winter tire has more siping in the tire because you need the biting edge for snow. It’s also got compounds that are optimized for cold temperatures,” says Knowles.

“You’re going to notice a little different steering response with the car going to the winter tires. [It’s] probably not as sporty of a feeling as it would be if you had a summer tire on the car.”

On a rear-wheel drive car where the power drives the back tires, the rear of the car can try to come around on corners and when you brake. Be aware of the way your Corvette moves on a slick surface, and keep your steering and braking extra smooth.

03. Engage “Weather Mode”

Driver Mode Selector. Photo courtesy of General Motors.

Before C7 this was not an option, but when setting out, switch the Driver Mode Selector from the default “tour” setting to “weather” mode.

“It adapts the vehicle to road conditions by distributing the appropriate power to the rear wheels, which promotes more confident driving in rain or snow. Tailored Traction Control is at the heart of this mode,” says Greg Barbera, blogger at DadCentric.

The throttle response is also reduced to help minimize slippage that occurs when you accelerate too quickly.

04. Watch for those tricky shadows

Molas Pass summit, Million Dollar Highway Rte, 550, Colorado.

One of many favorite drives is the Million Dollar Highway. Tucked in a quiet corner of Colorado, the road cuts steeply through the San Juan Mountains, past aspen groves, climbing above the 11,000-foot timberline.

While Colorado winters are notorious for snow, they are also filled with sun. Which means that in winter the roads often thaw, leaving a dry path through the snow-capped peaks.

But this is where a stretch of dry pavement becomes deceptive. The straights, benefiting from unencumbered sun, are free of snow and ice. But tucked in the curves are shadowy areas that hold their subzero temperatures until late spring.

Bridges are the same way — an icy flow of air underneath keeps the surface slick. And it’s easy to cross unassuming overpasses without noticing.

So while the road may look clear, and may be passable in your rear-wheel drive sports car, don’t start testing your sprints just yet. Save these for later in the year, when slick spots are no longer lurking where you least expect them.

05. Understand your Corvette’s limitations
Can you drive your Corvette in winter?

Your Vintage Corvette …
probably not a great idea .. EVER!

(That conversation is coming … NEXT!)

But — and this is a crucial — that doesn’t mean your Corvette can handle
ALL winter weather.

Drive gingerly until you are comfortable with the longer braking distance, altered steering and diminished traction of winter driving. By preparing your Corvette before the snow and adjusting your technique in adverse weather, you can safely drive your late-model Corvette this winter.

And as always be a smart responsible driver and stay safe for the holidays!