Driving in the Snow with Rear Wheel Drive
My 2006 Cadillac CTS takes on
I get many questions asking what
should be done about
driving in the snow with a rear wheel drive car. As
discussed in Benefits of RWD, there
one area where
Front Wheel Drive is actually better. And that is accelerating
very low traction conditions - such as snow and ice.
When accelerating in snow or ice,
front drive cars have more weight over the front wheels. This gives
more traction for acceleration in very slippery conditions. This is
biggest perceived advantage to a front drive car. It is
worth repeating that in all other situations (such as braking and
handling) rear wheel drive is better.
But we still need to be able
in the snow! Below are a couple of options for better snow
- Option 1:
Add weight over
the rear wheels. This is the simplest and least
option. Put 100 to 150 pounds into the trunk of your rear
car. I like to use inexpensive "play sand" that you can
most home improvement stores. It comes in convenient 40
bags. Adding this weight will put more weight over the
wheels - giving much better traction when accelerating on snow
ice. The downside is that the extra weight will have a
affect in braking and handling, so when the road conditions are
it is a good idea to take the weight out. Adding some
simple to do but makes a dramatic difference!
- Options 2: Use Snow
tires. Note that using snow tire will drastically
traction in snow and ice at all speeds in all types of
I use them on every vehicle I own because the improvement is
acceleration, braking, and handling makes driving in poor
Snow Tires should not be
with "All Season" tires.
Snow tires are designed specifically for snow and ice, while all
tires are designed to be a compromise for all different
conditions. I use summer performance tires in the non snow
and snow tires in the winter. Here in Michigan, I put my snow
tires on in early November and take them off in March. Your
are the biggest factor in your cars ability to accelerate, brake and
handle. Investing in the appropriate tires will yield the best
overall driving experience.
There are 2 kinds of snow tires.
The major categories are
"Performance Winter Tires" and "Winter Snow Tires."
winter tires are constructed to work very good in snow and ice but
are able to sustain higher speeds and have good dry road traction.
"Winter Snow Tires" are designed for maximum snow and ice
traction - they are not designed for high speeds (>100 MPH) or
I have used both types and observed the following:
Winter Snow Tires
Example Winter Snow Tires from
Bridgestone and Dunlop
I put Bridgestone Blizzak Winter Snow tires on a BMW 3 series.
The ice and snow performance was nothing short of incredible!
the snow was not deeper than the car I could go anywhere - with
ease. After a 12 inch snow I was even able to plow snow with
the front of the car. Braking and handling in the snow was
awesome. You seriously feel like a super hero when using these in snow
and ice. However, on dry pavement they are a bit "mushy" and
not feel very good at high speeds. In addition, they had a do
not exceed speed of 99 MPH. When you have these tires on, you
actually HOPE for snowy roads. If you live in mountain
snow areas or where there are very harsh winters, these tires are
the way to go.
Performance Snow Tires
Example Performance Snow Tires
Bridgestone and Dunlop
I use Bridgestone Blizzak LM25 performance snow tires on my Infinity
G37. They work much
better than all season tires in the snow in Ice. Over the
years that I have been using Performance Winter Tires there has
been a time where I was unable to travel. They are very
confidence inspiring. At the same time, these tires perform
on those sunny winter days also. They are speed rated for
speeds (up to 130 MPH) and had a better feel in dry
Here in the United States Midwest they are a great fit.
The two downsides of either type of snow tires is the initial cost
having to switch back and forth twice and year. The cost
not too bad if you consider you are not wearing out your other tires
during the winter. Since you are not using your summer
tires part of the year, they will last longer so you won't need to
replace them as soon as you would if you used them all year
But it will still be a little more expensive than just running all
season tires all year long. But it is a small price to pay for
the added performance and safety you will get by matching your tires
The other downside is having to switch them back and forth. If
you buy the snow tires from a major tire chain they will usually
them back and forth for you for free. But you still have
an appointment twice a year for this. And they may charge for
balancing also. Another option is to buy another set of wheels
to go with your winter tires. Major retailers have "Winter
and Tire packages" that are economical. This way your winter
tires are already mounted and balanced on wheels and you can switch
them back and forth yourself in about 30 minutes.
tires on your car you will be hooked. Doesn't
matter if you have a rear wheel drive car, front wheel drive
wheel drive, or anything else - the performance is so much
you will never want to use all season tires in the winter ever