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Did I Emasculate my Jeep?

I know that is a strong label, but . . . I just installed all season “touring” tires on a 12 Liberty. From what I read, the snow performance difference between all season and all terrain tires was negligible, so I opted for better rain and dry performance, and a quieter ride.

We get a couple of major storms a season, but the rest of the time we might max out at four inches. Any guidance, besides, “Stay off the roads” and “drop the air pressure”?

I already drive like there is an eggshell under the accelerator in bad weather. The embarrassment of spinning out in a 4WD because I drove stupid is too much to contemplate.

And, yes, I know I had no rational justification for the Jeep. A Camry with snow tires would perform just as well in this region.

But the heart wants what it wants . . .

Like I was recently told, 4WD helps you get stuck farther from the road. I think it makes perfect sense to do what you did. Even in Minnesota it is very very rare to have to drive through deep snow. Usually glazed roads. I remember one morning on the freeway, we had frost on the road. I was going about 45 due to the frost but a guy in a 4WD thought I was going too slow and passed me. Then he started sliding, and spinning, and into the ditch where his tires bounced and over he went.

Then it is interesting watching the news media go absolutely nuts at snow and cold in NC and along the coast. Then refreshingly one announcer said “it’s winter. It’s cold and snows in winter. Get over it.”

That’s too general a statement. I’ve owned AT tires that are EXCELLENT in snow. In general I’ll say that AT tires are better because of the wider grooves. Not all AT tires are created equal, but there are some well above others.

Cooper AT3’s just to name one. Excellent in snow.

If you don’t go off-roading, then all-terrain tires are unnecessary. All-terrain tires are not snow tires, and that is why the difference in snow between them and all-seasons is negligible - not that this means “they suck,” because some all-season tires are pretty good in the snow too. But you’re not going to get snow tire performance out of non-snow tires.

I remember when the H1 Hummer came out, a few people assumed it was the God of Traction, drove it and its sand tires too fast in the snow, and then were surprised to spin out faster than just about anything else on the road. It’s because off-road tires are meant to grip dirt and sand and rock, not frozen water.

Yes you can. All I can assume is you’ve never done it. I can take you places with snow you’ve only dreamed of and you’ll find many trucks on the road with good AT tires that do superbly in their 300"/yr of snow winters.

There is a difference between driving down a paved road with an inch or two of new snow, or that’s already been plowed but has a layer of compacted snow acting like ice, and driving down a minimum-maintenance gravel road in upstate New York after a blizzard. If you’re doing the latter, I heartily recommend the approach @MikeInNH advocates. If you’re doing the former, normal winter tires, or even all-seasons if you drive carefully, make the most sense.

I’m not advocating against winter tires. I’m just saying that not all AT tires are created equally. There are many AT tires that are as good as the Best snow tires you can buy. Not all are, but some are. The generalization that AT tires are not good in snow is just wrong. Try some good AT tires in real snow country.

To the OP: based on your description of your goals and your driving environment, I think you made a good decision.

The debate about tires will now go on for perhaps 273 posts or more, but you’ll be fine.
Happy motoring.


Just to help get to 273 posts my understanding is that letting air out of the tires really does not help that much.

Eh, no offense intended, but the Liberty isn’t the manliest of Jeeps to begin with, it’s unibody mall-crawler more so than trophy truck. Many, if not most A/T tires do better in snow than typical all-season/touring tires. The BFG All Terrain K/O’s have the three-peak snowflake symbol on them, which indicates that they are rated for “severe snow service” and are superior to all-season tires in the snow (but not necessarily better than winter tires). With that said, you’re probably going to be okay with typical all season tires. Years ago, I managed to get through unplowed roads (about 6 inches of snow), in a lowered, supercharged V8 Mustang shod with summer tires, it was an adventure. Your vehicle is much better suited for driving in inclimate weather and 4 inches of snow isn’t a big deal.

no offense taken - I simply wanted something that wouldn’t get stuck going up to my house at the top of the hill, on the last street the county plows after any storm - it was cheap, has a reputation for durability, and its vinyl and GoreTex seats can be pretty much hosed off every time the kids track mud on them

That’s a “sand trick”. It works well on soft sand, but not on snow/ice.

I believe the military version of the H1, as well as a few other military vehicles used in Desert storm and Enduring Freedom, had a system in it to allow the driver to lower the tire pressure for soft sand and pump it back up again.

How does the tread pattern compare to the Michelin Ice X tire?

If your liberty has patrt time 4 wheel drive rather than all wheel drive, it is not designed to be driven on the paved highway unless going at very slow speed in deep snow. The rotational forces of 4 wheel drive will spin you like a top.

A friend with a Blazer complained to me many years ago that his blazer was squealing the tires and jerking the wheel every time he drove up or down the levels of a parking ramp.

I told him to take it out of 4 wheel drive. He said to me, what is the sense of having 4 wheel drive if I can’t drive in it. I said, exactly.

Fortunately, most cute utes sold today, don’t use an off road transmission. The problem with Jeeps is that some people that [low with them still need the part time 4 wheel drive. I don’t know if it still is but it was once by far the cheapest of the three 4 and all wheel dreive systems they made.

A real Estate lady was complaing to me similarly as my neighbor and she had the part time system that she left locked in 4 wheel to stay secure. She asked me why the salesman had not told her about the other transmission options. I asked if she would have been willing to pay $1500 more for a jeep that looked just the same and she said no, she would have bought something else. I said, well, I gyess the salesman knew that.

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Command Trac - so, part-time 4WD. Wanted it mostly for those times when we don’t get plowed and I need the ground clearance and extra “oomph” to get up the hill. I know - winter tires and a FWD would handle most of those situations and I would live w/out the clearance a few times each year. That said, I enjoy the vehicle. The decision to purchase was more heart than logic. And, although used, the original owner had every service record.

yrs ago my friend had a 96 explorer with firestone tires? remember that debacle with low tire pressure issues? he got new tires and the manual even said do NOT use 70 series tires vs the factory 75 series as the “low” profile would have an effect on the center of gravity and impact the handling. ironically he came around a corner once in the winter and rear ended a stopped school bus, oops. slow speed of course. only 15mph? but lots of damage to his grille.

No need to apologize. You bought the vehicle you wanted is all. I have a part-time (manual locking hubs) 4WD truck and have had two front wheel drive cars over the years. It’s true that a FWD sedan is pretty good for most ordinary snow situations you’d encounter, but 4WD is definitely better on really treacherous snow & ice covered roads. 4WD is especially helpful when the snow is loose & pretty deep. Or it is really hard packed, wind-swept, and icy. Or the snow-packed road is really steep. The high clearance is nothing to sneeze at either; it helps prevent those big chunks of ice and rocks that get strewn over the road surface from the road grader from damaging the underside of the vehicle when they’re hidden & you run over them. When I lived in Colorado I saw plenty of cars off the side of the road with damaged oil pans due to that problem.