Whitesburg KY

Car Talk

Could hubby's snow antics damage car?

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 snowchained 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.

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Wait! Don’t buy another car without the mechanic’s checklist that’s included in Tom and Ray’s pamphlet “How to Buy a Great Used Car: Secrets Only Your Mechanic Knows.” It will help you get a good used car and avoid the clunkers. Send $4.75 (check or money order) to Used Car, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL32853-6475.

(c) 2008 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi

and Doug Berman Distributed by King Features

Syndicate, Inc.

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