Front wheel drive helps.
I do use a 4x4 and find it far better but equally I've seen people in
4x4s get into trouble, even ones which are reknowned as being 'good' 4x4s.
We had a Panda some years back and it was actually quite good in the
snow. We live on a road which can be a 'pain' when it snows and our
drive slopes to add to the joy. I also had a rear wheel drive MX5, that
could be 'lively' if you got caught out in the snow- I didn't normally
take it out by choice in such weather.
We have a large motorhome- front wheel drive- and have been caught out
in the snow in that. The weight (3.5Ton) makes that 'interesting' but,
provided you take care, things are OK.
Years ago, I was in a Tank when it slid on ice, that wasn't something I
expected. It was scary. (I wasn't driving!)
I've seen a number of 4x4s in trouble because the drivers have got a
false sense of security , they may get going a lot easier in slippery
conditions but don't brake that much better than other cars.
AWD won't help if you have skidded into a Kerb so hard the vehicle
has ended up on its side. Seen that a couple of times.
I've learned something today. I'd always thought that wider tyres with
greater contact area would be better.
When driving through deep snow with wheel ruts from previous cars, beware of
the car grounding on the pile of snow between the tracks. I had this happen
to. I'd got up a short steep hill that the farmers keep fairly clear for
milk tanker etc, but a few hundred yards further on, on the level, the snow
was deeper than it looked - and I bet that the only vehciles that had been
through were Land Rovers with high ground clearance.
Luckily I had a spade and was able to dig out the snow enough that the car
could be driven/pushed off its mound of snow. After that I checked any snow
that looked deeper than a couple inches from the virgin snow to the bottom
of the rut.
If people should not stand on the mats that you shove under the wheels, how
do you stop them shooting backwards (friction between mat and snow is much
less than between tyre and mat) as soon as you apply any power. I've had
this happen even when I let the clutch in very gently.
Stopping in snow/ice is very hit-and-miss. Assume that the car will take
*many* times longer to stop than normal. I've forgotten, what are the
circumstances where ABS is a hindrance than a help? Is it ice / compacted
snow or deep powdery snow?
We bought a 4x4 a few years ago in anticipation of winters like we'd had for
the last few years, and so far it hasn't snowed at all. Mind you, on a short
slimy muddy incline up to a driveway of the house where we're staying at the
moment, the 4x4 got up without any problem (and just the barest hint of
sliding sideways a couple of inches) whereas my FWD car had great difficulty
after we'd done it a couple of times. Even the locals say that the rain (and
therefore the mud everywhere) is exceptional. We're having flagstones put
down to give better grip in snow and mud - and to prevent big unsightly
Different tyres make a lot of difference to traction in snow. On that same
drive a few years ago (in snow) my Pug 306 with cheap budget tyres got up
far more easily than my wife's old Honda Civic with expensive tyres that do
much better in rain. That's for normal. not winter, tyres. Not sure whether
it was the weight distribution (both FWD cars going uphill) or the different
tyres that made the difference.
"FWD cars are better in snow than RWD" - but not going uphill where more of
the weight will be on the back wheels. In other situations, I can imagine
that having traction in the direction of travel rather than at an angle to
it (when an RWD car turns a corner) will be better.
I remember reading that in extreme conditions, as long as the road is clear,
it's better to turn the wheel broadside when stopping in an emergency in
deep snow to build up more of a "wall" of snow to help you stop - but beware
of the car suddenly shooting off where you've steered once the front wheels
do start to grip again.
Think it depends on the type of snow. How close it is to melting.
In the Artic, a wide wheel with a special tread may well be best.
Best car I ever drove in heavy snow was a pre-war Austin 7. Large wheels
with skinny tyres, good ground clearance, and not enough power to spin
*Could it be that "I do " is the longest sentence? *
Dave Plowman email@example.com London SW
I took my mate out for a spin in the snow down some quiet twisties in
my MM Van and was generally getting about ok, all be it with the back
end wandering about a bit (all pretty slowly of course). ;-)
When we got back mate decided we would try the same in his Mexico and
on the first bend we went straight ahead, up the kerb and very close
to a wall. ;-(
We decided narrow tyres and low power were best on snow covered roads.
The kitcar (MkII Escort based and looks like an old Suzuki Jimny) with
it's fairly narrow M+S tyres, lower ratio diff and shorter wheelbase
was also surprisingly good 'off road', especially mild mud and snow.
In one instance we (4 up) drove up a muddy track, onto a ploughed
field and parked next to an old Landrover, because we didn't want to
walk from the carpark where all the road cars and other 4x4's were
Someone asked if it was a 4x4 and were surprised to hear is was
basically just a RWD Ford Escort. ;-)
Similar in the snow. I was driving the kitcar about in the snow and
whilst it was obviously slippery, everone else seemed to be going
*very* slowly and struggling on the slightest of inclines. I drove up
and down the fresh snow on the fairly steep ramp to a multi-story car
park with little fuss?
Then I came back and went out in the Sierra Estate (with it's std
tyres) and suddenly realised why! I could hardly make it up the camber
of the road. ;-(
It was because of this sort of thing (especially mud) that I suggested
daughter fit 'All season - M+S' tyres on her van. Most tyres will work
ok when the going is easy. ;-)
Cheers, T i m
Depends on the depth of the snow - and tread pattern is more important.
For many years Land rover kept narrow tyres on their workhorses on the
basis that they would dig down into mud or snow and hit firm ground.
Eventually they capitulated and went from 7-50s to 235 x85s.
But eventually the best tyre is the right one for the conditions you are
experiencing. Everything else is a compromise.
To be avoided - the snow when compressed melts then turns to ice. Virgin
snow is better.
That can happen at any time - Have been stuck in a LR up on the Pennine
moors a few times.
Shovel and bag of salt/sand.
Generally true. Bag of sand in the back of a RWD does help.
I had a LR with front and rear axle diff locks. Weight transfer on a
*steep* incline rendered the front one virtually useless.
Forgive the slight thread creep, but a few people are talking about
using winter tyres in the summer.
Winter tyres generally have lower speed ratings than summer tyres. It
appears to be acceptable to use them in the winter but if I had tyres in
the summer that had a lower speed rating than specified by the car
manufacturer I would be concerned that an insurer could use this as
wriggle room and also that the car might fail the MOT test.
Just a thought ...
The one with the studded tyres and the smoothest most competent driver. No need
for a shovel just get in it and drive...except the bastards won't let you use
studded tyres in the UK.
Soft snow use the one with wider tyres
Compacted snow / ice use the one with the narrower tyres
Deep snow go for the one with highest ground clearance
Front wheel drive will always be better than rear wheel drive
Four wheel drives can be shit in snow
Ground a diff housing in snow and a four wheel drive turns into a shed stuck in
the middle of the road.
A car with properly weighted steering, low caster angle and no power steering
will be easier to control
A manual gearbox driven well will be better than an automatic, there is little
need for 1st gear.
Apply the throttle like it is made of glass or 'welded' together by British
Leyland at 4:59pm on a Friday
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