Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Adding Weight for driving in the Snow? 2 Questions

Would adding weight in the trunk of a front

wheel car (94 Camry) provide benefit for driving in the snow?

How about adding weight in the bed of a

2005 Ranger without four wheel drive?

thanks, fred p

A couple of hundred of pounds of weight in that Ranger and you will be unstopable.That same weight in the front of that Camry will make it unsteerable.

Really, we went over this pretty good last year I can’t think of anything to add to that marvelous thread.Try the search feature and see if you can pull it/them up.

A couple of hundred lbs of weight directly over the rear axle or forward of the rear axle of a RWD vehicle will help quite bit with traction.

On the other hand, adding weight to the trunk of a FWD vehicle (like that Camry) will only worsen the weight distribution and will actually reduce the traction of the front drive wheels.

If you want better traction, ditch those so-called all-season tires for a few months and put a set of 4 winter tires on the car. Winter tires make an incredible difference in improving your ability to stop and take turns, as well as to get you going in the snow. They will even give you somewhat improved stopping ability on ice.

Isn’t the trunk of the Camry in the back?

"Would adding weight in the trunk of a front
wheel car (94 Camry) provide benefit for driving in the snow? "

Yes but why would putting weight over the back wheels have any chance of helping traction when the drive wheels are in the front? If this idea has any chance at all the weight has to go over the drive wheels. I know the OP wrote trunk.

In the snow and ice, there are TWO problems. One is simple traction in applying the power from the engine to the road (getting going and keep going.) The other is distributing the weight so to have the most control when driving. (staying on the road facing front when driving.)

Both are important, but sometimes we think of one but not the other. If I have to choose, I will choose control. I would rather get stuck than to loose control when driving.

I have no experience with a Camry, but I have driven a Celica and I would tend to believe the Celica weight distribution would not be helped by adding weight front or back.

There’s no good reason to add weight to a FWD car.
There’s already considerably more than 50% (~60% typ.)of the total weight over the driving wheels.

Adding weight over the non driven wheels will make it easier to get stuck.

To get a 10% increase in the Ranger would take ~350lbs over the back wheels or somewhat less if it’s gathered by the tailgate and behind the rear axle.

p.s. I agree that putting the weight behind the rear axle will hurt handling by increasing the rotating moment of inertia.

“If this idea has any chance at all the weight has to go over the drive wheels.”

Yes, but how would you propose that someone add weight to the front of that Camry?
Duct-taping barbell weights to the hood, perhaps?


Regarding adding weight in the trunk of a front drive car - I must disagree with all but Mr. Meehan. A light rear end will encourage the car to swap ends. The ideal is 50/50 weight distribution. Therefore, adding weight to the trunk of a FWD car is a good idea. Accelerating and clawing your way up a slippery hill is only part of winter driving. Braking and cornering are also important. I’ve been doing this successfully to my '92 Honda Accord for the past 2 or 3 winters. Yes, I have 4 dedicated snow tires: Bridgestone Blizzack. Before I started adding weight, I’ve had a few instances where the car rotated almost 90 degrees on a slushy or snow packed road. Always due to the rear end coming around.

Equally impossible to envision is how adding weight to the rear would help traction in a fwd auto. I simply edited the OP’s statement as I felt the idea to add weight to the rear of a fwd car in order to increase traction was a typo.

I read the response that adding weight to the rear of a fwd car will be benifical as it will decrease the likelyhood of the rear 'comming around" I must say that if you are driving on a surface at speeds where the rear wants to come around you are simply driving too fast.

One way we made our off-road cars move through low traction situations is to keep the car as light as possible, I have seen the " keep it light" idea work very well. The heavier you are the more traction you need, I keep it light.

I remember once when the fire dept responded to a fire and the ground under this 20 ton fire truck got wet and the water on it froze. This fire truck did not go any where when it was time to leave but it certainly had enough weight if that was going to help, it did not help it at all.

Adding weight to the Ranger is a good idea. Don’t put the weight too far back in the bed. Somewhere between the cab and the rear axle is best.

Adding weight to the Camry is less useful. Again, if you add weight put it as close to the rear seat as possible. This will keep the car closer to a 50/50 balance. If the weight is too far in the back of the trunk it could cause the rear end to swing out too much too fast. 100lbs of sand and/or salt can’t hurt and might come in handy.

Experiences are not always the same. My experience where I was hindered by lack of traction always seem to come when I try to move the car after an overnight cold spell (that caused snow melted by the car to turn to ice) or a fresh snow storm. This is when having sand in the car has benifited me, and it was not used in the way you may be thinking. I poured the sand out behind the wheels so as that the snowy/icy surface displayed better adhesion properties. At times this can be a one shot deal but it can get you out of your drive and on to a road with a better surface. Another tool I have used simply to move the car from where it is stuck (right in front of my house) is a large piece of carpet, once the wheels are on this carpet traction is returned and you are good to go, until you get stuck again that is.

Other than that, a full size Blazer with a lift kit and 36" tall tires chained all the way around worked pretty good. There is a reason to keep these “dinasouars’ around, espically if you live in 'snow country”. My local was Siskiyou County (at the very top of CA.) This is one of the main places all the hippies from S.F moved too after the “summer of love” ran its course. I missed the main course and only experienced what was left in the late 70’s.

If you add weight to the trunk of a front drive car, the weight must be over the rear axle or further forward. The tendency for the rear end to sway is INCREASED if the weight is toward the back due to the higher POLAR MOMENT OF INERTIA or the dumbell effect. That’s why mid engine cars handle so well and the original Chevy Corvair was a handling disaster.

The 50/50 weight distribution is ideal for handling on dry pavement and higher speed. On slippery surfaces the traction of the driving wheels is most important, and the weight distribution matters less.

In any case I would not add weight to the trunk of a front drive car, but would equip it with the best winter tires I could find.

Everyone: Thanks so much for your view points. Perhaps my best bet would be to move to AZ (but that ain’t happening this year). fred p

Weight in the Ranger will help, but only if you have a way to keep the weight stationary.
One way to put some weight in the bed is to shovel some snow into the bed. If you live in the north east, you shouldn’t have any problem finding some snow to pile in there. The snow will weigh the bed down some and will melt when the temps start to rise again.

Putting weight in the trunk of a front wheel drive vehicle will help tremendously in the snow when turning corners from a stop. No more rear end slide! Just make sure your rear tires are in good shape. Worked fantastic for my 2001 Saturn". I put over 200 pounds in the trunk.

I’m not quite sure why you chose to revive a dormant, six year old thread, but I think it is important to add the following:

If you are adding weight in the cargo area/trunk of a vehicle–be it FWD, RWD, or AWD–that weight should be placed as far forward in the cargo area/trunk as possible.
If the weight is placed in the rear of the cargo area/trunk, it can have a “pendulum effect”, and can lead to the rear end swinging-out on a slippery curve.

If you’re sliding while turning a corner in a fwd vehicle…then you’re driving too fast. Wife’s cars have been fwd for the past 30 years…neither of us ever experienced the rear end slide here in New England or Upstate NY. Maybe some fwd vehicles with a solid rear axle might.

Weight to the truck of a fwd vehicle will DECREASE the traction of the front wheels. Which is actually more important in driving in snow. You’ll see a big decrease in trying to go up a steep hill with weight added to the trunk. I wouldn’t do it…no way no how.

1 Like

Great , reviving a old thread and posting lousy advice. Thanks !

1 Like