With Britain poised to succumb to winter’s icy grip for another year, owners of All-Wheel Drive Subaru vehicles will once again be called upon to become motoring Good Samaritans – rescuing friends, neighbours and fellow motorists stranded in the ice and snow.
In response to the increasingly bleak forecasts, Subaru – backed by the AA – is providing its customers with practical tips on how they can use their trusty Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive vehicles to tow snow-bound front and rear-wheel-drive cars out of trouble, safely and efficiently.
The AA-endorsed winter-specific towing tips (see below) include guidance on driving techniques and the use of equipment. For example, Subaru advises drivers to check that the transmission of the towed vehicle is left in neutral, that the steering wheel is not locked, and that its front wheels are pointing in the planned direction of travel (it can be very hard to tell when behind the wheel in deep snow).
AA patrol of the year, Keith Miller, commented: “On the road, traction is key at any time but never more so than during winter, when the roads are often slippery. In these conditions, All-Wheel Drive is always better than front or rear-drive, as it reduces the risk of wheel spin and maximises control of the vehicle.
“This in turn aids those towing other motorists out of trouble by helping to keep things smooth,” Miller continued. “It’s important not to let the rope snatch – move off gently so the rope takes up the tension gradually.”
Miller also stressed the importance of “protecting the scene”, by being aware of your surroundings. For example, he explained, if you’re trying to pull a vehicle out of a ditch at the bottom of a hill make sure you can take evasive action if other cars coming down the hill lose control.
He added that even All-Wheel Drive vehicles benefit from the fitment of winter tyres: “Particularly if you live in a rural area, consider fitting a set of four for significantly better winter handling.” Subaru owners interested in fitting winter-proof rubber to their car can visit www.subaru.co.uk/dealer-locator to find their nearest retailer.
Subaru’s full model range – Legacy, Outback, Forester, WRX STI and Impreza – is equipped with the company’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system that directs power to all four wheels, optimising traction in the very harshest winter conditions. Many Subarus also feature Vehicle Dynamic Control, which manages torque distribution, engine output and brakes at each wheel, making adjustments instantaneously when grip levels are reduced in order to keep the vehicle on the chosen course.
Marketing Director of Subaru UK, Kenyon Neads, said: “I helped rescue a snow-bound neighbour in a German rear-wheel-drive vehicle last year, and we know many of our customers will find themselves in similar situations as soon as the snow falls. We know our customers have less to fear than most from the snow and ice that winter brings, but we want to help them respond to appeals for rescue in the safest way possible.”
Subaru’s top tips for emergency winter towing:
- Alert other road users – Use warning triangles to mark out the section of road onto which your Subaru and the towed vehicle are about to move. Anyone placing warning triangles in the road should wear a reflective safety vest.
- Know the limits of the equipment – Only use a rope specifically designed for towing road cars, and only tether it to the towing eyelets specified by the manufacturer.
- Take the strain – The tow rope’s tension should be built up slowly to avoid vehicle damage. When towing, pulling away in second gear in your Subaru can often help minimise any loss of grip.
- Keep it straight – The towed vehicle should ideally be towed to a safe position in a straight line, reducing unnecessary strain on the towing eyelets and making it easier to avoid the towed vehicle taking an unwanted change in trajectory.
- Stay loose – Ensure that the steering in the towed vehicle is not locked, and that the wheels are pointing in the right direction before towing begins.
- Take a neutral stance – The transmission of the vehicle to be towed should always be in neutral. Keep the ignition of the towed vehicle on and the engine ticking over so that the brakes can continue to function.
- Keep it short – A towed vehicle can be hard to control on icy roads, so only cover the distance necessary to get the towed vehicle out of trouble. Once the vehicle has been towed onto an area affording adequate traction, both vehicles should quickly but progressively come to a halt. Then check if the towed vehicle is able to move off safely under its own power.
- Don’t look down – Never tow anyone downhill in case the stranded vehicle runs into the back of your Subaru or overtakes you.