Driving on ice, 4 wheel drive?

Currently the weather is sleeting and raining freezing rain. I have a Dodge Ram 1500 4x4. I have to go to work, should I drive in regular 2wd or should I drive in 4wd? This is my first winter with a 4wd truck. Thanks for the help

On ice and snow, use four-wheel-drive. You can switch back to two-wheel-drive if the road is dry or just wet.

I used to have a Toyota Tercel wagon that could switch between front-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive. It was basically a front-wheel-drive vehicle. However, you could move a lever on the center console to engage the rear wheels. On ice and snow with all season tires, it was hard to get around in front-wheel-drive. In four-wheel-drive, it would go anywhere. I now have a Subaru wagon with full time all-wheel-drive. The only thing that stops the Subaru is getting high centered in deep snow.

4 wheel drive is ideal for these type of road conditions. So use the 4X4 mode. However, remember that 4 wheel drive doesn’t stop the vehicle any better. So you still have to drive with caution.


Call in sick and stay home. If the roads are truly covered with ice, your chances of getting to work safely are slim. P/U trucks are TERRIBLE on ice, 2Wor 4WD, makes little difference…

It really depends on whether you have full-time 4WD or part-time 4WD. The clue as to which 4WD system you have is whether the Owner’s Manual states that you cannot use your 4WD on a dry road. If it says that you cannot use it on a dry road, then that means that you have part-time 4WD, and, believe it or not, this system is actually hazardous on an icy roadway, due to the fact that all 4 wheels turn at the same rate. Part-time 4WD is great for off-roading and for getting out of a ditch, but if used to drive on icy roadways, it can actually push you into a skid.

On the other hand, if you have full-time 4WD, that will help you to a certain extent on icy roadways, as opposed to driving in 2WD. Just be sure to keep your speed down and to use very long following distances because full-time 4WD doesn’t allow you to stop in a shorter distance. It just helps you to gain traction for getting into motion.

Personally, due to the really bad traction that pickup trucks have in 2WD, I would not drive on an icy road in that mode, nor would I drive on an icy road with part-time 4WD.

So–read that Owner’s Manual, and act accordingly.

I would assume since he’s asking us whether or not to shift it into 4wd, that it’s a part-time 4wd system. Plus I don’t think you can get that vehicle with a full-time system.

On a part dry part icy road, it would be hazardous and damaging to your vehicle to drive in 4wd. Basically, because there’s no center differential when you’re in 4wd the front and rear drive shafts spin at the same rate. (As a nuanced technical point, VDC is wrong that all 4 wheels spin at the same rate-- the individual tires on either axle can still spin at different speeds, but the combined speeds of both wheels on both axles must be the same). Anyways, if you can imagine what your wheels need to do for your truck to turn, you’ll see that it’s impossible to turn in 4wd mode! That’s why you can’t use 4wd on dry pavement-- slippage is necessary.

Now, if you’re talking about a solid sheet of ice or a completely snow-and-ice covered roadway, you can use 4wd, but as the others have mentioned you definitely want to take it very slow. A good set of snow tires and wieght over the back wheels would help immensely.

Stay home. Driving on ice is hazardous and foolish. 4WD won’t save your butt on ice.

Freezing rain is a real danger and 4WD will not eliminate it. Best to stay hhomee until the roads are better.

If you must go, use the 4WD, but remember 4WD or AWD do not help keep you on the road or help you stop. It may help get you out of the ditch if you slide into it.

NOOOOO…With part time P/U truck systems, the front axle is usually a 4.10 and the back axle is a 4.11 If not these ratios, then whatever they are, you will find the front one a little “faster” than the back one. This helps pull the vehicle up and over obstacles when off-road driving.

But when on glare ice, it makes the vehicle VERY squirrelly as the tires are ALWAYS trying to break traction. If you MUST drive on ice, chain up all 4 wheels and leave the transfer case in 2-H.

You can test this yourself. Put it in 4WD and get going (on glare ice) then turn the wheel a little. Did the truck respond to your steering input? I bet it just slowly slides down the crown in the road no matter what you do with the wheel.

4wd is great when your stuck or need to get moving, however it pretty determental to driving on wintery roads IMHO. One thing you really will realize is if press the accelerator and turn you will go straight and not the direction you intend.

AWD, RWD(2wd) and FWD do not suffer with this problem. Just drive really carefully as you always would.

i think 4wd offers very little on ice unless you have studded tires. all wheel drive is significantly better but even so true ice is treacherous for any vehicle. feeling secure on an icey road travelling in a straight line can give you a very hazardous sense of security that will vanish quickly if you try any quick maneuvers. as others have said, braking is little affected by 4wd and steering is only improved by 4wd at very low speeds (less than 20). be very cautious.

4wd will HELP to get you going on ice…but it won’t help you STOP. Take it real slow and avoid hills…

“Personally, due to the really bad traction that pickup trucks have in 2WD, I would not drive on an icy road in that mode, nor would I drive on an icy road with part-time 4WD.”

I have a 2wd PU and I don’t have a problem driving on ice or snow. People have been driving on ice and snow in 2wd long before the 4wd became widely available.

“P/U trucks are TERRIBLE on ice, 2Wor 4WD, makes little difference…”

I always take my 2wd PU on ice days instead of the FWD car.

4WD will get you moving a bit better but a 4WD vehicle will slide as far and as fast as anything else.
During a very bad ice storm one night my old Subaru 4WD got crossways on me at a measly 15 MPH and that car slid for a full block and a half - all in slow motion and on a totally flat roadway. I even opened the door and attempted to dig a boot heel in as part of an effort to get it stopped; to no avail.

I’m not sure where you are, but I was in the middle of IA on I-80 (on my way home the CO) when that ice storm started on saturday morning. It didn’t matter what you were driving, I saw all kinds of vehicles upside-down on the side of the road. I watched a semi slide off at about 2 mph just because the road had a slight crown. I found a hotel room and waited it out.

I have to correct some statements about 4WD stopping on slippery surfaces. The automatic transmission 4WD F-150 from 1984 stopped a LOT better on slippery surfaces. This is experience talking here. In 2WD the back tires would keep pushing and stopping was a white-knuckle affair. When half the drive torque is on the front wheels, the rear will have no problem killing the torque on the rear axles. It’s kind of like shifting to neutral while stopping.

This is only true if the truck has ABS. Non ABS, part-time 4wd trucks stop faster in 4wd.

4 wheel drive,part time 4 wheel drive,all wheel drive,front wheel drive,whatever, makes no difference if those who can’t/won’t drive using common sense. These systems are to help you,not correct stupidity on your part.

Not on ice and snow they don’t. Stopping is done by using the brakes which act the same in 2wd and 4wd.