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Old December 24th, 2017, 23:13   #1
boodles
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Default 2003 VW Jetta is trash in the snow?

Sooo... I live in Canada, and freaquently visit family in the northern-y areas of Thunder Bay/Winnipeg. I own a 1.8 2003 VW Jetta with a turbo (itís a manual), it is NOT TDI, but I could not find anywhere else to turn for knowledgeable VW community, and the problem Iím having I doubt is related to diesel/gasoline. Any help would be much appreciated.

This is my first winter with the car, and we JUST got our first huge snowfall today (6Ē in under 4hours). The Jetta has lousy, and I really mean non existent traction in the slush/snow. It took me over 25 minutes to make a 7 minute drive home today and had traffic honking and passing me the whole while. I couldnít get it up over about 25kmh without it fish tailing all across the road, and even under that it was still flashing traction control warning light and back end sliding. I know it wasnít ďjust weatherĒ because all the traffic around me was easily doing about 50kmh and didnít seem to have any trouble except in the deep slush at intersections and driveways.

It does have winter tires, not all seasons on it.

Iíve read the front wheel drive on the Jetta is actually good for winter driving. So this makes me assume something is off with the car.

The only thing I know thatís wrong with it is itís shot suspension. It has one brand new strut(replaced last month), and one original (being replaced in January), and ďunder parĒ rear suspension.

I donít know if the suspension is whatís causing all this rediculous sliding, but if itís not I seriously need to know what is. If it is the suspension, i think I would just like someone more knowledgeable to tell me itíll get better in 2 weeks time. No way I can drive 25kmh all winter!

Any help is MUCH appriciated!!! Thank you!
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Old December 24th, 2017, 23:16   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boodles View Post
It does have winter tires, not all seasons on it.
Which ones, and what are they inflated to?
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Old December 24th, 2017, 23:22   #3
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Originally Posted by Vince Waldon View Post
Which ones, and what are they inflated to?
Thanks for the reply. Canít remember the make, Iíll have to check when I go down to the car tommorrow but they are practically brand new, only about 3,000km on them, and they are matched leftside-left side, right side-right side with the car. And inflated to ~45psi I believe, as per whatís written on the tire.
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Old December 24th, 2017, 23:44   #4
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From one Canadian to another... the type is important, as there are average winter tires and good winter tires... and great winter tires.

Next: if they are a directional design mounting them so that they are pointing in the right direction is *very* important... so worth double checking. If they are a directional design there will be an arrow labeled "Rotation" molded into the tire that should point in the direction the tire spins when the car is moving forward. They will grip poorly if mounted backwards.

Finally: inflation is super-important, particularly for winter grip. In this case, if you've truely inflated them to the value listed on the side of the tire you've mistakenly inflated them to the maximum allowable pressure according to the tire manufacturer. The correct running pressure is determined by the car manufacturer, who knows the weight distribution of the specific vehicle etc, and is listed on the sticker on the inside of the gas filler door. Probably about 10 psi less than what they are currently set at... which should help the tires grip much better.

Properly equipped and set up these cars handle very very well in Canadian snow... so keep at 'er... you'll figure it out.
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Last edited by Vince Waldon; December 24th, 2017 at 23:48.
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Old December 25th, 2017, 03:21   #5
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If you’re tires are not aligned properly it can feel like you’re on a skateboard. I have just replaced some front end parts on my van. Inner tie rods, sway links and bushings. We received about an inch of slushy snow and I couldn’t keep it in a straight line. I’ve never had that issue before with this vehicle, I have an alignment scheduled for Thursday.

If you’re suspension is shot you’ll need to address that issue first and then get an alignment. It won’t do you any good to get an alignment with worn out suspension components.

As a temporary measure you might try turning off the anti-skid feature if your car has that, and I assume it does since you said it’s flashing on the dashboard. Mine has a switch called esp right beside the heated seat and flasher switches.
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Old December 25th, 2017, 05:23   #6
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As stated several times, it's all about tires-to an extent. The first Jetta TDI I bought in Florida and drove it home to northern Minnesota. Brand new tires were installed prior to purchase and they looked great. They were aggressive looking, but a "rain" pattern. Typhoon something and ran great....until the first snow. I was scared in the car. In desperation I tossed on the project cars all season Goodyear Eagles. It simply transformed the Jetta and made it stable and almost superior to my daughters all wheel drive Fusion.

However, the TDI is much better in the slippery stuff than a 1.8T. (I've had three 1.8's-a 5 speed wagon, a 5 speed sedan and an automatic sedan). Tdis (four Jetta manual sedans to date) have much better low rpm manageable power, a bit heavier on the front end and milder shift points that allow the driver to maintain traction easier.

Recommended inflation pressures are labeled on the inside of the fuel door, although I've never used less than 32psi, even in winter conditions.
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Old December 25th, 2017, 06:04   #7
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45psi seems awfully high. I would bring it down to the mid 30's. I turn off my ESP because I prefer to have full control of my acceleration if that makes any sense.
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Old December 25th, 2017, 06:15   #8
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You can't use the tire pressure written on the sides of the tire as a guide as to what YOUR car requires. That PSI on the tire is generally the "safe" max tire pressure for the tire's speed rating. Look at the sticker on the driver's door column for the manufacturer's recommended tire pressures for the car.

As said above, in snow it may make sense to run a slightly lower pressure for added road contact ara.
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Old December 25th, 2017, 06:21   #9
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i had a 85 Honda FWD accord POS in 2013-2015 and it did epic in the snow on $20 barn yard find tires (all seasons) Winter tires are EPIC if installed right. 45psi? WOW thats way to high. try driving around with 25psi, then 20, then 18 and if its REALLY BAD SNOW and your not going to go that fist, under 40 you can go down to 15. 45psi means the tire has NO way to grip the slush its just a knife trying to push away the slush and snow. This is 90% the issue you had here if you have a good alignment. FIY this is what i do on ALL my cars and works very well. It can also help to put 100 lbs of bagged sand or a few logs in your front seat and your trunk. 200 lbs is a great spot but any amount will help with traction.
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Old December 25th, 2017, 08:24   #10
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UPDATE
Ok, thank you many helpful people, I have been checking through things one at a time here and this is what I’ve found out:
The tire brand is TOYO. They have Left/Raifht written on the tire and they ARE on the right on the right sides of the car. They look like they have arrows, but are facing the wrong way? I don’t know how this could be fixed though, since this is how they were bought and are each the same, unless they are on the rims wrong? But that’s the sellers fault then. I added a picture below.
FRONT BACK

Additionally, I checked the pressure and it is high, the sticker recommends about 10psi less so I’m going to bleed some out when I get off work and see if that helps on the way home.

And also, about the alignment, I had it in and they said it looks pretty good but didn’t want to hook it up until the second strut goes in. Fortunately that won’t be long, and then I will have the alignment done.
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Old December 25th, 2017, 08:34   #11
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arrows pointed in the wrong direction to forward rotation of the tire means it will not provide much if any grip in the snow, should be able to remove and reinstall the wheels in the correct orientation on the vehicle yourself
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Old December 25th, 2017, 08:50   #12
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If they are directional tires and are pointed in the wrong direction just swap sides. Left tire to right side and right tire to left side.
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Old December 25th, 2017, 09:35   #13
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Keeping your tire pressure on the low side of the recommended range increases traction, especialy in snow! eg. 29psi in the front and 26 in the rear.....check your fuel door sticker.

Quality snow tires make these cars awsome to drive in the snow....as long as the snow isn't so deep that the car's underbody rides on top of the snow and the tires can't reach down to solid pavement.
Best snows that I have had on these cars is the hakkapalitta R's...
https://www.nokiantires.com/winter-t...kapeliitta-r2/

As stated above, proper alignment makes a big differance.....you don't want the tires already "skidding" when driving in a straight line.
Also a dragging brake or brakes, especially on the rear can cause huge traction issues, obviously.
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Old December 25th, 2017, 10:06   #14
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^^ those are decent tires, but bridge stone have been the best i have ever had yet.

OP, just flip them around to the other sides. take the wire pressure to the 25Psi and see how you like that. this will be a huge difference.
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Old December 25th, 2017, 10:29   #15
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There is a difference in snow for sure. Those Toyo's are heavily siped but tread dense. They do better in ice or light snow. Sluch and deeper snow need a more open tread design like a Nokian.
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