Honda Civic In Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

The Honda Civic is a fun-to-drive compact car that is fuel efficient and practical. Prospective Civic owners may be eager to know if the model handles well in winter, given its small size.

In this article, we dissect the Civic’s performance abilities and determine how good it is in snow.

Here is the short answer to whether the Honda Civic is good for snow and winter driving:

The Honda Civic can handle driving in various winter conditions thanks to Traction Control and Vehicle Stability Assist, which boost road grip and balance on slippery terrain. It also has a Road Departure Mitigation System, ABS, and a low profile for improved winter driving. 

Is a Honda Civic Good in the Snow?

The Honda Civic is not the first car we’d pick for driving in snow. Something like a crossover, SUV, or truck would catch our fancy first. However, not everyone needs, or can afford, any of those vehicles mentioned.

From research and owners’ reports, a Honda Civic, even with its small proportions, handles winter just fine. Thanks to a combination of driver assist features, the average Civic can drive over the white stuff without sliding or slipping.

Nonetheless, we must mention that the Civic has low ground clearance, which may limit its ability to combat snow.

What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?

Honda designed the Civic to be suitable for use in different weather, including winter. Thus, the Civic has features that mitigate problems of winter driving (discomfort, low traction, etc). Here are some of them:

Vehicle Stability Assist

The Vehicle Stability Assist feature is an impressive addition to the Honda Civic’s arsenal of winter driving aids. In low-traction winter conditions, the Vehicle Stability Assist keeps your vehicle steady and stops it from losing control.

The VSA uses a slew of sensors that monitor your vehicle’s acceleration, steering angle, and rotational speed of wheels. Combining these pieces of data allows VSA to determine if your car is stable or not.

If your vehicle is becoming unstable to the point of going out of control, the VSA will automatically reduce engine power output. VSA will brake individual wheels as well.

These actions do the following:

  • Slow down the car so you can regain control
  • Force the car to stay on track, if it starts slipping off the road

Traction Control

Traction Control on your Civic minimizes the rate of wheelspin and maintains good traction. The feature is a lifesaver in winter, as it solves one of the biggest problems winter drivers face: loss of traction.

How does Traction Control do it? It uses on-board computers that track how fast a wheel is spinning.

When a wheel spins too fast, a sign of loss of traction, Traction Control immediately reduces wheelspin. It does this through coordinated application of brakes and reduction of engine output.

Electronic Brake Force Distribution

The Electronic Brake Force Distribution feature on your Civic enhances safer braking, particularly on wet roads. Winter driving situations often present higher prospects of braking-induced wheel lock.

And if your wheels lock (stop rotating), you’ll find it difficult to turn; your car may even skid!

The EBD system checks wheel lock through proportional distribution of brake force. Here’s a quick explanation of how that works:

Braking applies force to the wheels so they can decelerate, and the vehicle can stop. However, braking too hard will apply excessive brake force to the wheels.

As the wheels support different loads, their ability to handle increased brake force will vary. Some may decelerate normally, while some may stop spinning instantly in what is called a wheel lockup.

The EBD ensures the wheels don’t receive the same level of braking force. EBD will distribute the brake force among the wheels based on their load and speed.

Therefore, even when you brake hard, the wheels don’t receive more brake force than they can handle. This minimizes the likelihood of one or more wheels locking up from hard braking.

Antilock Braking System

The Civic’s Antilock Braking System also prevents wheel lockup just as the Electronic Brake Force Distribution we discussed earlier. However, unlike EBD, it operates differently.

The ABS has computers that constantly monitor the motion of wheels, especially in braking situations. If a wheel decelerates at a quicker pace than the others, ABS will pulse the brakes to allow the wheel to regain speed.

Pulsing the brakes comprises releasing and re-applying brakes on the affected wheels. It reduces the brake pressure that wheel has to handle and minimizes its chances of locking.

Heated Seats and Climate Control

Honda knows how uncomfortable driving in freezing temperatures can be, so it fitted the Civic with comfort-enhancing features. A great example is the heated seats that come on Civics. These provide warmth in winter.

Unlike some models that have only heated front seats, the Civic has heated rear seats. Hence, the entire family can stay warm during winter travels.

The Honda Civic also has a great climate control system that keeps the cabin warm in cold climates. Just as heated seating, this feature keeps off the harsh cold and bolsters ride quality.

Road Departure Mitigation System

The Civic comes with the innovative Road Departure Mitigation System. As the name suggests, this feature prevents your vehicle from mistakenly departing the road.

Winter roads are often covered in slush, ice, and snow; your vehicle can slip on such surfaces and leave the pavement.

The RDMS makes sure your Civic remains on track, especially while driving in slippery conditions. It can detect when your vehicle is crossing lanes and alert you. The system can also increase steering torque to ensure stability.

RDMS can apply the brakes if it determines your steering won’t stop the car from sliding off the road.

Please also read our article on driving the Honda Clarity in snow and winter.

Does a Honda Civic Have Snow Mode?

A Snow Mode system helps improve a car’s handling and control in snow. Once active, gearshifts become faster, wheel spin increases and traction climbs a notch.

However, you won’t be getting any of that on your Honda Civic, as it lacks a Snow Mode. Nevertheless, you have Traction Control and Vehicle Stability Assist that do something similar.

These surely make up for the absence of a Snow Mode.

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on Civics?

You can install snow gear on your Honda Civic, if your snow driving needs warrant it. If you get only light snow, snow gear may be unnecessary.

However, if your area receives heavy snowfall, snow gear can determine whether you get to drive without getting stuck.

Snow gear you can install on your Civic include snow chains, snow tires, and snow socks. Different regions have varying regulations on using snow gear–check what snow gear is legal for your car.

In addition, don’t forget to buy snow gear based on your vehicle’s actual size. Buying snow gear because you think ‘it should fit’ may set you up for disappointment, especially if it doesn’t fit.

Make sure to also read our article about driving the Ford Fusion in snow and winter.

How Much Snow Can a Civic Handle?

The Honda Civic is a small compact with 6.7 inches of ground clearance, so its ability at handling snow is limited. If you are driving on roads covered in sheets of snow, the Civic should have a fine time driving.

It should even be able to handle snow up to 2-4 inches. But if the road is completely covered in thick snow, the Civic may falter and stall.

How Do Civics Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

The Honda Civic is fuel-injected, which means its performance is hardly affected by weather conditions, not the least, winter. Even when temperatures dip below subzero levels, the Civic will warm up without issues and run smoothly.

If you have to warm up your car for minutes, or crank it repeatedly before it starts, it is likely there is a problem somewhere. If it doesn’t start at all, then a problem is plaguing the internal systems.

In particular, check for a degraded battery, weak spark plugs, water-contaminated fuel, and dirty filters, and so on.

Can a Honda Civic Drive on Ice?

The Honda Civic can drive well on roads covered in ice.

The combination of Traction Control and Vehicle Stability Assist aids winter driving by providing optimum traction and driver control in icy conditions.

Does the Civic Have 4WD?

The Civic comes standard in a front-wheel drive, front-engine layout. While it is not 4WD, it is still decent in winter. That the engine’s weight is on the driven wheels helps boost stability, especially on slippery surfaces.

Also read our article on driving the Chevrolet Malibu in snow and winter.

What About Older Civic Models and Winter Driving?

The best older Civic models for driving in snow are those released from 2007 downwards. On the previous models, ABS wasn’t standard (it became standard in 2007).

Similarly, Vehicle Stability Assist (Stability Control) was absent on all pre-2007 models.

Do Civics Need Snow Tires?

Snow tires are necessary if you intend to use your Civic in winter season. You’ll spend more getting a set of snow tires, but you’ll get enhanced safety and confidence in winter conditions.

Can You Mount A Snow Plow on A Civic?

You can’t mount a snow plow on a Civic because of its size and engine power.

Doing so is risky and can lead to severe damage of the vehicle.

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