Keeping new Viper owners SAFE - a How To:

viperbilliam

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If we're seriously considering the production of some kind of "sticker notice" I'd seriously suggest (despite the gruesomeness) it include photos of crashed Vipers and some (non-intruding) generic list of same. A simple serious "note" is not going to get anyone's attention. A 5 page "brochure" with several photos of carnage, a list of 200 crashed Vipers while still in their break in period titled "DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!" might get an owners attention.
Can't get much worse than this:
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ferraritoviper

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As a recent low speed 360 crasher of my new Viper to the tune of $53k, I can say with confidence it would not have happened, if there was a sticky like Janni's here, and including all of your comments on this thread like... "On the street, the only thing as important as car control when driving a Viper is SELF-CONTROL." I'm sure this thread will be of value to all new Viper owners...if they heed your well intentioned warnings! Thank you all.
 

LaneViper97

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I totaled my 1997 Viper GTS on July 5, 2010 and was lucky to walk away without a scratch. This was due to a heavy foot and 8 year old tires that had lots of tread! The rear tires broke loose at about 55-60 MPH as I was passing a car. The car went into an immediately spin, hit an embankment, went airborne, through a metal gate, slid 150 feet and landed in a creek. I feel tires are the most neglected safety feature of your car - if it still has tread you assume it's safe - well I'm here (thankfully) to tell that's not true.
 

Solid Red 98

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All of the above is correct and prudent. We would hate to make people think that these cars are unsafe. Any motor vehicle in the hands of a fool, is dangerous. Anything that you strap yourself into, that has padding and airbags inside implies that risk is involved, especially if it looks like a spaceship.

All that I can add is that one is often best at what he or she does most. I know some like to keep the mileage low in order to preserve value, but I drive my Viper often and in various temperatures and conditions. Know the machine, no matter what you drive. I find that after a short "sabbatical" from Viper driving of up to three weeks or so, I take it real easy due to a bit of rustiness, and too much familiarity with some sedate minivan or sedan. I keep driving until I have that, "oh yeah!" moment, then I start to play a bit.

So, if you can swing it, don't just drive the Viper; be the Viper. :smirk: For those of you with many exotics, and little time to play with them all, just be more careful still. My two cents...
 

RTTTTed

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Everyone that hasn't taken at least 1 high performance driving course doesn't know what they are talking about and doesn't know enough to drive a Viper at speeds more than the legal speed limit and no stunting.

As JonB said, "Driving school". It's the only way to practise and learn what they teach. Every cop takes a driving course and all they get to drive is junk (except the ones that buy a Viper).

Even a street racer and old "bad boy" that learned high speed driving while racing cops ... needs a lesson to see how much he doesn't know.

AutoX is excellent to teach low speed handling and speed limit performance driving.

Ted
 

RTTTTed

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Hi perf driving course can`t be said enough. It won`t make you great, only better than you are.
 

JonB

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I totaled my 1997 Viper GTS on July 5, 2010 and was lucky to walk away without a scratch. This was due to a heavy foot and 8 year old tires that had lots of tread! The rear tires broke loose at about 55-60 MPH as I was passing a car. The car went into an immediately spin, hit an embankment, went airborne, through a metal gate, slid 150 feet and landed in a creek. I feel tires are the most neglected safety feature of your car - if it still has tread you assume it's safe - well I'm here (thankfully) to tell that's not true.


A public-service announcement ^^ above that CAN save your life......every week I talk to people who want to believe that "good tread-depth" on their old tires is all that matters. They might want to buy 2 new tires. (which can make it worse!)

"TRACTION MATTERS"...and old rubber will ditch you, or worse.

And every month I talk to people who wrecked their cars becasue they trusted old, hard, tires that 'looked good'

Ironic that they don't look as good when car is upside-down........
 

Dom426h

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Some more good info from this thread:

http://forums.viperclub.org/rt-10-gts-discussions/630232-best-tires-techniques-avoid-crashing.html

No’s
-Accelerating to hard around a turn (rear tires break loose = oversteer)
-Braking around a turn (causes weight to transfer to the front making the rear light causing her to break loose)
-Shifting during a turn (upsets the balance of the car)
-Poor Alignment: As bushings wear overtime your alignment gets out of wack.
-Old tires: Any tire will loose its stickiness through the years do to the many heat cycles they go through. Fresh tires are KEY. A fresh cheap tire is stickier than an old PS2.
-Cold Tires: The colder a tire is the harder it is = no grip.
-Lack of Experience


Go’s
- Get your braking done in a straight line Before entering a turn.
- When slowing down for a turn, downshift before entering the turn.(if needed)
- Alignment: Get it checked every couple of years. A little TOE IN in the rear will help to tame the rear end of any rear-wheel-drive vehicle.
- New tires: the newer the better. All tire options for our vipers(NittoINVO, KumhoXS, PS2, ect…) have around the same treadwear rating(~200). As long as they are fresh they alone will Not be a factor in you losing control of your viper.
- Warm Tires: Make certain to drive a few miles for your tires to get up to temperature before driving aggressively around turns.
- Experience/Practice: Purposely going past the limit in a safe area(large empty parkinglot) can give you valuable experience that might come in handy when your on the wet leaf covered backroad going Sideways around a turn.
Sometimes when I get caught in the rain I make it worth it by heading to a parking lot and getting the tail out in 2nd & 3rd gear to give me more experience on the dynamics of the viper and learning how to countersteer to keep her from spinning around. Some call this drifting. I call it learning how to tame the beast.

and

Things you should do:
1. Think SMOOTH, and be SMOOTH. This cannot be over-emphasized in a Viper (of any generation). Even with the best (and fresh) tires, setup, and so forth, the Viper does not respond well to sudden or abrupt inputs.This also means keeping your transitions from throttle to brake, and brake to throttle, smooth. The same goes for shifting, and steering.
2. Get everything warmed up before you drive the car hard; this means tires, brakes and engine. This is not only kinder to the driveline; as has been noted, cold tires and high hp/torque don't mix well. This is especially true in cool and/or damp conditions.
3. FOCUS! This car demands your full attention! The cockpit of a Viper is no place for woolgathering, yakking on a cell phone, or any other form of distracted/inattentive driving - PERIOD! On the street, be alert to the traffic around you; this makes it less likely you will have to do anything sudden (See no. 1)
4. Keep BOTH hands on the wheel except when shifting. The best time to adjust the a/c. radio, etc. is when you are stopped. Like any car with wide front tires, a Viper will bump steer and tramline (follow groves in the pavement). This may be disconcerting to newbies, but is not a serious problem, IF you are aware of it, and paying attention.
5. Work up to your personal limits in the car slowly and carefully; then, STAY WITHIN THEM. YOUR limits are THE limits (regardless of what the car will do)!
6. If you have not been to a high-performance driving course, GO TO ONE! At a minimum, go to an HPDE (or two, or three). Learn and practice your skills with the best guidance you can get, in a controlled environment.
7. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! There is no such thing as too good, and ALL of us can improve. You can even do some of this on public roads (at a reasonable speed and with no traffic); practice heel and toe downshifting, driving the correct line through a corner, etc, until you can do it correctly, every time, without having to think about it.

Things you should NOT do:

1. Stab the throttle or brake. Squeeze it, DON'T slam it!
2. Turn into a corner too soon; this is called "early apex". It's a natural novice mistake. It's also the worst line through a turn, gets the car out of shape, and can lead to a spin, especially if your entry is too fast to begin with. The Viper's normal understeer is your friend here (at least while you're learning) as it tends to keep you from doing this.
3. Shift while turning; as has been noted, it unsettles the car.
4. Short shift (upshifting way below redline) under hard acceleration; this can cause snap oversteer. The same goes for quickly going to wide open throttle in a higher gear than necessary. This is the classic "Viper Bite", and the ONLY place you want to experience it is in a closed environment, like a big, empty parking lot or a skid pad, where you can't hit anything.
5. Show off - EVER! YOUR EGO IS NOT WORTH YOUR LIFE OR ANYONE ELSE'S, nor is it worth wrecking your Snake! The last place, THE VERY LAST PLACE, for demonstrating your machismo or bravado is behind the wheel of a Viper! Before you get in, strap in, shut the door, and push the start button, park your ego outside and leave it there, until you park the car and shut it off.
6. Street race - EVER! Keep the competition on the track, drag strip, or autocross course!
7. Assume that any tire, modification, or setup is a substitute for skill, experience, and sound judgment.
 

graphite

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Greetings to everyone on both sides of the Atlantic.
Good sticky rubber is part of the answer. Old tires can get you killed very quickly in our favorite sports car.
Respect for the Vipers capabilities is another part of the puzzle.
Know your cars limits. Know your own limits as a driver.
New tires every two to three seasons.
Drivers training in your own Viper by professional drivers either at the track or at a safety training drivers school. In the wet and on dry pavement. Europe has several schools run by their versions of AAA.
From what I have seen our local/regional VCA organizations and non-affiliated Viper clubs do try to offer people these excellent venues for learning how to drive a fantastic automobile. In Europe and North America.
Markus knows how valuable drivers training, drivers attitude and vehicle maintenance can be when you pilot this sportscar. He was instrumental in giving Viper owners in Europe the opportunity to learn to pilot the Viper in safe conditions. It continues to pay big dividends to those who chose to take advantage. Me included. 64000 miles in Europe. Track time and autobahn/route/strade. Europes two lane black top roads are a thrill. Thanks Markus!
Drew
 

ViperGTS

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I do inspect tires for age at Viper meetings and found/find plenty of thread and +8 (sometimes 10, 11, ...) years old tires on the cars - have to shake my head about such a stupidity again and again and again :rolleyes: :crazy2:

Drive safe and invest some money in the few square inches keeping you on the road :2tu:
 
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past ohio

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Maybe a Viper should have training wheels attached for the first year....I say to those which don't care and want to push the envelope, this is great for cleaning out the herd....
 

Black Moon

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Go ahead and disagree and yell but I think TRACTION CONTROL would make our cars MUCH safer and more enjoyable. IMHO
 

VIPERBARON

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This is a very interesting thread. And should be required reading for any prospective Viper owner.
I grew up on GTO's and Trans Am's. I have flown F-16's and aerobatic aircraft. Today, I have 2 Corvettes, including a ZR-1 and several "rice rocket" superbikes.

NOTHING compares to the Viper, nothing.

In a straight line it is impressive. It can exceed my limitations without warning. In the curves it scares me.

I bought my Viper in Ohio and I drove it home to Colorado to get acquainted with it. The first semi-truck I passed on the highway, I made sure I was already in the passing lane before applying power. The sheer suddenness of the torque power, catapulted me beyond the massive truck in less time than my brain could register. It passed like my Kawasaki ZRX-1100; instantly. Had I been in the lane behind the truck when I rolled on the power, I might very well have collided with the rear of the truck.
The Viper strikes very quickly. It's not like other super cars I've driven. It requires an attention at all times and a seasoned driver who is familiar with high horse power vehicles.
You've really got to think way ahead of this car to stay safe and fun.:drive:
 

Magnus_

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Seat time, Seat time, Seat time!!!

You can learn a lot at the track, preferably ones with nice runoffs.
 

Grisoman

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Go ahead and disagree and yell but I think TRACTION CONTROL would make our cars MUCH safer and more enjoyable. IMHO
Don't disagree at all. Dodge includes defeatable ESC on their Hemi products. ESC can be completely disabled if needed from the driver's seat. Best of both worlds . . . ESC when you're not thinking about it, and no ESC when you deliberately don't want it.
 

jmasin

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Great thread. I can say as a new Viper owner I've taken these types of warnings to heart, not just from this thread, but in general.

In 2001 I was a testosterone driven idiot... I nearly wrecked my 2 week old 2001 Vette because I power shifted 1-2 in a slight turn (total freakin' dumb-a** move, I know). Anyway, good ego-check/comeuppance. If it wasn't for the computer intervening I may have been toast.

Since then I've logged many hours of track time (with the computer OFF). Felt the edge, passed the edge etc. And If I've learned nothing else, I have learned EGO can be your downfall. As soon as you think you are Superman, the world has a way of reminding you that you aren't. But, I also learned I'll always have more to learn... always.

After a few weeks of ownership, I can say I think many people get wowed by the "street legal racecar" moniker... and what some don't realize is that racecars are designed to be fast on racetracks with capable hands. They are not designed for rutted, potholed, gravel covered ever-changing streets. Riding a Hayabusa tought me this lesson too. Dragging pegs is a great feeling, but you never know what lies around the next turn, gravel, a pothole, a chicken crossing the road etc... Even if you ARE Lewis Hamilton... the streets change constantly, and sometimes it won't even matter if you are the best driver ever.

There are some roads around here my jeep is probably faster around curves because of it's slushy/compliant suspension that the viper would simply skip and skitter off the road.

For those who have never been on a racetrack and a driving course, I suggest it so strongly, even one or two weekends in a green group. Tracking my Corvette TOTALLY CURED my idiotic street behavior. TOTALLY. I realized immediately that no matter how fast I tried to take that left turn on the street, it would NEVER thrill me like the track, and was simply not worth the risk. Tracking made me a better driver on the road for so many reasons, the obvious ones of learning how to drive, but the indirect ones... the impact it had on my brain/mindset/behavior behind the wheel. Now when pr*ck kids in their turbo'd WRXs rev and get dumb next to me I can just think back to the track, and what REAL drivers can do. REAL drivers don't race on the street (IMHO).

Now, I'm knocking on wood to make sure none of the above just cursed me :)
 

NVMYVPR

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Well I am the noob in the room. I just purchased my first Viper; a 1996 RT-10. After reading this thread I already have a healthy respect for the car I have not even driven yet. The advice here is great and I hope new owners really heed this advice from the more experienced Viper owners here. I can tell you for sure that I will be looking for driving schools so I can safely explore the limits of my Viper and increase my skill. I look forward to meeting many of you guys in the future.

Craig,
 

SSGNRDZ_28

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Very informative post. Thanks for all the information, thinking about all this before hand is much better than learning it the hard way.

Maybe I missed it, but what is the acceptable age for tires?
 

mattdillon

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Very informative post. Thanks for all the information, thinking about all this before hand is much better than learning it the hard way.

Maybe I missed it, but what is the acceptable age for tires?
There's been a few discussions about this, some say 5 years is getting pretty close & I've heard some say 7 years so either way you know 6 years would probably be a good time to start looking! jmo
 

Drew

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6 years, dam I got 3 months and 15000km out of my first set of sport cups. :s, I find it really hard not to drive this car.
As many of you are aware, I lost my final edition coupe with 700km. I got lucky and walked away. I was covered by insurance and now have my beautiful final edition ACR. Lucky again. The ACR came out of the show room and straight on the track for driver training. After 14 track/lapping days with instruction, I wouldn't do it any other way. I went from being terrified of the car, to being reasonably competent with a heathy dose of respect.
Did I mention I can't stop driving this exhilarating piece of kit :))
 

SADVIPER

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In light of recent events and some terrible tragedies involving new owners of the Dodge Viper - the members of the VCA Forums wish to provide the following insight into the Viper ownership experience - all in hopes of preventing accidents.

Much of the Viper's appeal is it's "raw" attitude. It has few creature comforts and even fewer high tech driver aids.

It's a wonderfully capable tool - much like a scalpel in the hands of a surgeon. However, a scalpel in the hands of a 2 year old is not a good thing. You - as a new Viper owner - are likely more of a 2 year old than a surgeon. Don't feel bad - we were all 2 once.

Many of us grew up driving cars that could were virtually idiot proof. This is not one of these cars.

Please understand the following things about the Viper:


  • It has more torque that any car you have ever driven. Torque means "turning force". It's the thrill of pushing you back in your seat - but it means the twisting can be brutal.
  • It has MASSIVE tires and can have tremendous grip. Your tires are the ONLY thing keeping you stuck to the road and are impacted by many variables.
  • It has few electronic driver aids that will come to your defense if you overstep the limits of tire adhesion.

Here are some things that can keep you safe as you develop your relationship with your Viper:

  • Smooth inputs are more necessary in this car than any other. ANYTHING abrupt will unsettle the car. It DOES NOT appreciate a heavy hand, or a heavy foot. Either can send the car into a spin.
  • The tires will not work when cold, or - when OLD. Old tires = Hard tires. Even if they have loads of tread- they can be like hockey pucks. DO NOT skimp on tires. Again - they are the ONLY thing keeping you stuck to the pavement.
  • There is nothing that will pull you back once you have lost grip. No electronic Traction Control, no ESP, no power cutoff.
  • Many before you have not heeded these simple rules and have ended up with crashed cars. Or worse.

Consider the first several hundred miles the "honeymoon phase" with your Viper. No full throttle, no cranking the wheel, no showing off. Consider taking our car to a local autocross to have some fun, and maybe even spin. In a parking lot. Consider just going to that empty parking lot and try a couple of maneuvers varying the smoothness of your inputs and see what happens. (if the car starts to spin - both feet in - clutch and brake).

We want you around. We want you to love this car like we do.

Please feel free to add to this list and perhaps we can put it together as a BIG sticky.

Amazing post :D thx.
 

NO HEMI

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Being a noob to the viper this post has helped me a lot, i ve had a lot of fast cars, camaro's ,t/a's lsx engined gto's, EVO8, viper ram, supercharged saleen, some of them pushing over 600hp, but none of them has been as different to drive as the viper,it's a totally new experience for me and even though i 've put over 2,000 miles on mine i'm still on the "honeymoon" phase, and even there i got stupid on a parking lot and did a 180!, so yes, this thread has helped me a lot and i know will help others who like me Love and would like to get to know their snakes. thank you for the info!!!.

P.S. Im looking for driving schools to help me learn the driving curve of the viper.
 

hemihead

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Being a noob to the viper this post has helped me a lot, i ve had a lot of fast cars, camaro's ,t/a's lsx engined gto's, EVO8, viper ram, supercharged saleen, some of them pushing over 600hp, but none of them has been as different to drive as the viper,it's a totally new experience for me and even though i 've put over 2,000 miles on mine i'm still on the "honeymoon" phase, and even there i got stupid on a parking lot and did a 180!, so yes, this thread has helped me a lot and i know will help others who like me Love and would like to get to know their snakes. thank you for the info!!!.

Dude, welcome to Vipers, but your name's freaking me out a little.....
 

Steve M

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P.S. Im looking for driving schools to help me learn the driving curve of the viper.

I'd recommend Spring Moutain (close to Las Vegas) - their 3 day course was fantastic, and taught all the basics in a very controlled environment, including time on a wet skid pad, and lots of time learning to perform the heel-toe downshift. Yeah, you'll be doing it in a Vette, but I'm highly considering going back for their level 2 course, and at the end of the day, you get to beat on someone else's car, not your baby.
 

DStJohn

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Another Noob here, reading this has so much good advice for a new Viper owner. My first car was a 69 Roadrunner, so I thought I had experienced torque and my 2nd car was a 260Z, that taught me a lot about driving the mountain roads of Colorado. All that went out the window with the Viper! I learned that the first time I was turning left into a gas station and stepped a little to aggressively on the throttle. Luckily it just lit up the tires and only slightly turned sideways, but I drove the next 500 miles at 10 under the limit! I too got past by many minivans, (and still do), but I am only learning what the car can do. Plus I love just cruising along about 50 listening to the pipes sing.

I had an acquaintance of mine get killed in his RT/10. He was on a back road that had a S curve to cross a ditch. From the skid marks, it looked like he punched it before he was straightened out and the car did a 180 on him and backed into the ditch. The car rolled and pinned him in and he drowned in 12" of water. I always wondered how that could have happened, after driving my Viper, I understand.

I did learn one thing from this thread, I am going to check the date on the tires. It is an 06 with 10K miles, I bet they are the originals, I know they are run flats. Looks like time for some new rubber. Thanks for all the great advice. I don't plan on racing, but I want to stay safe to enjoy my toy!!!
 

VYPR BYT 94

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...I did learn one thing from this thread, I am going to check the date on the tires. It is an 06 with 10K miles, I bet they are the originals, I know they are run flats. Looks like time for some new rubber. Thanks for all the great advice. I don't plan on racing, but I want to stay safe to enjoy my toy!!!

Dan, You'll not find a better price than Viper Parts of America right now. Got mine in May and I just checked this link... it still works so try to get 'em now. :D
https://www.viperpartsofamerica.com...t-set-for-2003-2010-viper-285-35-18-345-30-19

This is the original VCA thread...

Mike
 

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