Driving a Corvette Stingray in the Winter

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

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Change Your Tires

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

General Motors

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.

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Expect Your 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. 

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Engage "Weather Mode"

Before 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. 

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Tricky Shadows

One of my 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. 

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Understand Your Corvette's Limitations

Can you drive your Corvette in winter? Yes.

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

Just ask Edmunds Editor-in-Chief Scott Oldham what happens when you try to take a Corvette Stingray over a mountain pass in blizzard conditions.

Despite Pirelli winter tires, activating weather mode and relatively slow-moving traffic, the Corvette couldn't maintain enough grip for the slippery climb.

"There was just no traction," said Oldham. "The car's stability system was keeping the tires from spinning but it was also shutting off its big V8 engine in an attempt to cut power to the tires."

After the Corvette refused to continue up the hill, Oldham had no choice but to roll to the side of the Interstate and wait.

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