The ECT switch is one of the most useful yet misunderstood features of many modern off-road capable cars and trucks. Whether this is your first time owning a vehicle that is ECT Snow Switch capable or are simply curious about what features your pre-existing car has, you have come to the right place.
This brief blog post will cover not only what an ECT Snow Switch is but how it works, why you might use it, and what lesser known benefits it can provide.
What is an ECT Snow Switch?
An ECT Snow Switch is an electronically controlled transmission adjuster that is only available on newer, advanced, vehicles. The purpose of the ECT Snow Switch is to improve traction in snowy/icy weather to make driving easier and far safer. It is a versatile tool for any driver to use and even has applicability in wet weather when the roads are slick with water.
What does an ECT Snow Switch do?
The purpose of an ECT Snow Switch is pretty simple, improve traction to make driving on slippery icy roads or tracks easier. The way the switch achieves this is by adjusting shift points. It’s a very clever technique of lowering the RPM levels needed to shift into the next gear.
Additionally, it reduces throttle response to limit your acceleration and thus prevent you from gaining too much speed too quickly and prevents slipping and wheel spin.
What are the benefits of an ECT Snow Switch?
Climbing gears without increasing speed using the above mentioned method massively improves the driving experience and gives the driver far more control over their vehicle. Being in a higher gear without needing the RPM and speed that comes with that gives your car a lot more traction and prevents wheel-spin and skidding.
You may find that setting off in second gear (if applicable) and utilizing an ECT Snow Switch allows you to pull away much more easily and much more safely. Depending on the vehicle, the ECT Snow Switch may start you off in second gear by default (when driving an automatic) but will require you to manually set off in second when driving stick (manual). For a smoother start in snowy conditions an ECT Snow Switch is a god send.
Do I need to use the ECT Snow Switch when it’s snowing?
It is not absolutely necessary to use the ECT Snow Switch whenever it is snowing. It is always up to your discretion when using it. After all, a few sprinklings of snow does not require you to effectively re-tune your transmission. That would be a little bit of an overreaction! However, if you see a layer of snow starting to coat the roads then turning on the ECT Snow Switch might be a good move.
Remember, turning the switch on is also super effective on icy roads and can even help prevent you skidding-out on black ice. When it comes to rain, the roads are slippiest in the first hour or so after raining so sometimes it may even be worth using the ECT Snow Switch when conditions are particularly wet. After all, no one enjoys aquaplaning.
While it may not always be necessary to use your snow switch when conditions get frosty, after all some people just don’t like the way it feels to drive with reduce throttle, it is always advised. It helps tremendously and requires little to no effort on the part of the driver. It’s as easy as pressing a button.
How do I use the ECT Snow Switch?
Most ECT Snow Switches are easily found somewhere on the center console or the dashboard of your car. They are almost always labelled ECT Snow and are often adjoined by a toggle for ECT PWR. It is important to ensure that you are turning on the snow switch and not the power switch because they do very different things and the consequences can be pretty dire if you aren’t paying attention.
ECT PWR raises RPM levels needed to shift up a gear and increases throttle slightly. Compared to ECT Snow which does the opposite. Do you want to raise the threshold from first to second and increase throttle in snowy conditions? No, because you’ll end up skidding off at an alarming angle with very little control over the vehicle.
Modern vehicles will almost always provide some kind of light on the button or on the dash to let you know you are in snow mode. This is a very simple check you can perform to make sure you are indeed using the right settings.
Does the ECT Snow Switch save gas?
Many people wonder whether because the ECT Snow Switch reduces throttle and therefore reduces engine spin / RPM that it will somehow reduce fuel consumption. Interestingly, this is somewhat true.
By driving around with an ECT Snow Switch turned on you will likely get a couple more miles to the gallon at the expense of losing speed off the line. You will notice that in regular driving conditions that having the snow switch on will make the car feel a little more sluggish and slower to respond. While the extra mileage might seem great, you may not feel that way when you are cruising on the highway trying to overtake traffic in the slow lane.
Hopefully, you now have a great idea about not just what an ECT Snow Switch is but how it works and what cool uses it can have. Remember, you don’t have to use a snow switch in snowy conditions – but it helps.
The improved traction and more responsive handling in slippery conditions is a wonderful help and can make day-to-day driving in the winter months a heck of a lot more enjoyable. If you were planning on using the ECT Snow Switch as a method of saving fuel on you daily commute to work, you may be onto something!
But, keep in mind you will have to give up some of your vehicle’s performance. And for some, well, that just isn’t worth it.