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Four wheel drive question

I have a 2003 four wheel drive Kia Sorento. When not in four wheel drive it is rear wheel drive. On two occasions while driving on snow packed roads, I have had the rear loose traction and spin out luckily going into a soft snow bank. I have good tires, was driving about 15 miles per hour on a flat straight road and not applying the brakes. I can’t figure out what is happening. So I started to put it in four wheel drive whenever there is snow pack on the roads. Typically I thought four wheel drive was only for “tough” conditions, but I haven’t had a spin since using four wheel drive. Does anyone have any insight about driving rear wheel drive type 4x4’s? Thanks and have a nice day.

The biggest cause is poor weight distribution. Secondly, good tires are only good if they are winter tires. Put a couple hundred lbs (yes that much to make a difference) of tube sand in the back and get winter tires. Your situation along with the sudden change in traction of traction requirements in unprepared rwd tells us all why automatic awd is popular. Fwd does not readily spinn out, you just Loose steerage when spinning.
Until you make these changes, ease throttle when ever you approach slippery areas, a good stategy regardless of drive systems. Think good driving habits, weight in back and winter tires. One of these alone will not be enough. You have a truck based part time system and unfortunately, you have to treat it like a truck and not a sedan.
Be safe.
Even in 4wd you can spinn out in real slippery conditions without those necessary changes.

How much tread is left on the front and rear tires?

Only 1800 miles on them.

Unless they are winter tires, even new all season tires will have poor coldvweather traction. I feel there is a multiple phase approach. You’ve made a good start to solving your problem by asking and will get lots of good ideas to consider.

Do you have posi-traction (limited slip differential)?

RWD vehicles need snow tires to traverse snowy roads. So when in snow…put the truck in 4wd.

What kind of tires are on the vehicle. Many people put summer tires on their 4wd and think they are fine because it’s 4wd. My tires on my 4runner are good all-season M&S rated tires (Cooper Discovery CTS). EXCELLENT tires…I don’t have a problem in snow in 2wd unless it’s deep or there’s ice also. Then just shifting into 4wd makes all the difference in the world.

even new all season tires will have poor coldvweather traction.

"All Season" is an advertising idea.  If you translate it to English, it is "Three Season"

Goodyear Assurance TripleTred tires. Note that it hasn’t happened since using locking the car in 4 wheel drive. It doesn’t have posi traction.

The same insight you should have now. The Police in Maine say that accidents are caused by 4WD vehicles that are not in 4WD when there is snow on the road. SUVs have more problems than long pickup trucks when in 2WD.

SUVs have more problems than long pickup trucks when in 2WD.

Who told you that?? The only way long pickup trucks would be better is if you had it loaded with sand…Otherwise SUV’s are better in snow because of the added weight.

Note that it hasn’t happened since using locking the car in 4 wheel drive.

That’s because it’s in 4wd…4wd will keep you on the road in slippery road conditions…that’s what’s it designed to do.

Hate to tell you this, but those tires are NOT made to be driven in snow.

I’m going to have to disagree with you on that part about the Goodyear TripleTred tires.

In my experience with them, on my '07 Nissan Altima 2.5S (manual transmission), these tires have turned my car from being just shy of undriveable in the snow with the 2 previous sets of tires (ContiProContacts and Fuzion HRi), to actually being quite decent in the snow.

I’m sure that a set of actual winter tires, like Blizzaks or X-Ice tires would be that much better, but the TripleTreds are one of the better designed all season tires. They have the mountain snowflake emblem on their sidewalls, so they are expected to meet snow use, rather well.


Goodyear Assurance TripleTred tires according to CR have average traction in snow and on ice. Though not bad, they are no where near as good as dedicated winter tires where most of them are rated good to very good. The tire compound can never remain soft enough to give the traction of winter tires.

It’s still about the weight distribution the instant the rear tires loose traction. Lighter rear end vehicles will try to spin out even if you have studded snows and over acceleration.15 years of plowing and snow removal has taught me something about weight balance and tires where we use 1000lbs of sand in the back of our 3/4 ton plow PUs. 200 lbs (or more is better) of tube sand in the back of your car will really help bring this beast under control, even if you don’t add snow tires. That’s the first thing I’d do pronto to be a little safer.

As a test once, I placed over 5oolbs of sand in the back of a Sidekick with all season tires, left it in 2wd and drove up a steep ice/snow hill from a dead stop. It was amazingly good. I couldn’t drive around all day like that as the 1.6L motor was enough of a dog as is and the front just floated too much, but it did prove a point.

R4 industrial type tires are notoriously poor winter tires on tractors. But, with Maxigrip ice studs screwed in calcium loaded tires and a 500lb blower on the back, the tractor will literally walk up and down a glare ice hill. Quite a feat for a tractor which are really poor “ice’rs”.

Thank you for the help.

They may be decent tires for a fwd vehicle…but NOT a rwd vehicle (which is when the OP is having the problem). For this vehicle…you need more aggressive treads then those. The Blizzaks and X-Ice are car tires…This truck needs a ATR, AT or HT Truck tire…They are not the same as a car all-season tire.

While you don’t want to drive in 4WD on dry roads. You also don’t want to not get the advantage of 4WD in nasty weather. As soon as the snow flies and there is some snow on the road you are OK using 4WD.

Once the pavement is dry or just wet (with no snow or slushy spots) then you can move from 4WD back to 2WD.

There actually is a version of the TripleTreds for SUV’s.
I would assume those are what are installed on the OP’s vehicle.
They should be decent, but I suspect the issue is ultimately with the OP’s driving style when in rwd, while going around a corner, in the snow.

If you switch from normally driving FWD vehicles to a part time 4WD vehicle, you can’t drive it the same when going around corners in the snow while in 2WD (rear in this case) mode.

But, since the OP said that this happened on a flat, straight road, I would have to ask if there is a healthy road crown on that section of road, or if they were accelerating at the time of the rear end breaking loose.

If the rear end of the truck is breaking free while not under acceleration on a flat straight section of road, there is something seriously wrong with the vehicle.

I’ve attached a pic of the Goodyear Fortera TripleTred, which should be the tire installed on the OP’s truck, just to have an idea of the tire in question. It should be an aggressive enough tire to deal with snow in a straight line, at 15 mph.


Long pickup trucks don’t go into spins as quickly as short-wheelbase SUVs. Or as quickly as short-wheelbase pickup trucks. Experience tells people things. Just look at which type of vehicle is off the road on a snowy highway.

Just look at which type of vehicle is off the road on a snowy highway.

Let’s try a little logic…Since there are probably 100 times more SUV’s on the road then long bed pickups…there’s a much higher probability of an SUV being in the ditch then a long bed pickup.

I’ve owned several Long bed pickups (mainly Gm and Fords). And they may be more stable then a short bed…they are still very light and not good in snow unless you put weight back there.

And I don’t consider those a good design for snow at all…I’ve owned enough snow tires in the past 35+ years of driving to know what a good snow tire is.

There are 2 design characteristics that I’ve found are essential for snow tires.

  1. Wide deep tread design. And usually with at least one center channel to help channel away melting ice.

  2. Large widely spaced lugs.

I’ve found that if a tire has those characteristics they will perform well in the snow.

The Goodyear Fortera TripleTred doesn’t have either of those characteristics…so from my experience they would NOT be a good tire in the snow.