Front wheel drive snow tires--2 or 4?

On a front wheel Cadillac (2011) DTS, can I use only two snow tires–installed in the front?? These cars have stablization systems which are profound. I never had a problem with the rear end swinging out in my 2005 Sedan de ville. It looks to me as if the tire dealers just want to sell more tires, as they all suggest 4 snow tires. Aren’t the rear tires just “along for the ride?” They have no torque.
Tagged: Cadillac DTS snowtires

You do indeed need 4 WINTER tires (the term “snow tires” represents old technology and is now an archaic term) if you want to stay on the road during slippery conditions.

Yes, stability control potentially works well, but by having tires with drastically different coefficients of friction on the front and the rear, the system will not actually work very well. While there is no torque applied to your rear wheels, a loss of traction on the rear wheels can lead to loss of control.

Additionally, one of the best things about winter tires is their ability to reduce your stopping distances to a significant extent on winter road surfaces. By using winter tires on all 4 wheels, you will be able to stop and to corner with much greater safety than if you were to use these tires on just the front wheels.

bob201 — "They have no torque."
Except when you brake. Get snow tires on all four wheels.

Bob, if is was just a matter of getting traction to start moving from a standstill your reasoning would be correct. However, it ain’t that simple. Once the car is moving you have to steer and brake. Your car also has sophisticated systems for ABS braking, stability control, and traction control. Mismatching tires will confuse these systems and can lead to all sorts of handling problems on dry, wet, and snow covered roads. Saving a few bucks on 2 tires puts your new car at risk, as well as you and any passangers.

If your winter driving consists of a few miles to the grocery store and you never get up over 35 mph you might not have any problems. At 70 mph on a thruway or interstate your car could be all over the road in an emergency manuver.

You can get around with 2 winter tires on the front, but is simply isn’t safe.

They are just along for the ride until you change direction. Then both the front and rear outside tires are pushing you toward the center of the circle. having just good tires in front and your rear will want to swing out, because it can’t push as well as the front. Stability control can clamp down on ONE front brake to keep that from happening. But it is limited by the traction of ONE tire. I wouldn’t put my life on only one good tire.

You should have 4. In addition to the steering and direction changes the others mentioned, with ABS if the front tires start to slip the ABS will interefere with their application, lengthening stopping distance. When this happens, the rears will help compensate and take up some of the necessary stopping traction.

It’s always important to have good traction on all four wheels. With ABS it may be even more important.

You need four winter tires, not just two.

If you lose traction in the front, you can turn the wheels to try to regain traction. If you lose traction in the rear, there is nothing you can do except hope you packed a clean pair of underwear.

OK, I get it! Thanks for everyone’s advise. I think the Youtube video was the most significant factor in confirming my decision to go with 4 winter tires!

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Good decision.

I learned the hard way back in my twenties on icy roads. I spent an entire winter with my rear end of my Jetta swinging all over since I ran basically summer tires on rear and winter tires on the front. Stopping was interesting and full 180’s was something I got used to.

Four matched tires in capabilities whether winter or all-season is critical for safe driving in slippery conditions.

Edit: Four matched tires in capabilities whether winter or all-season is critical for safe driving in ALL conditions.

I realize winter is almost upon us, and everyone is thinking slick snow and ice, but this statement is true for summer, spring and fall, too. You never know when you’ll hit a fog bank, that has caused a slick road, rain, or any other change in the road surface.

It’ll be a bit more expensive to start, but get those tires mounted on separate rims. This will make seasonal changes/storage a lot easier. has a package deal with 4 winter tires and rims for most vehicles.

Sometimes it is actually cheaper or not much more to get rims/winters in smaller size vs buying the tires that fit your snazzy 18" or whatever rims they have on the vehicle.

Check for pricing. Remember wheels/tires are delivered mounted/balanced. You just need to find someone or yourself to bolt them on.

On a side note Caddillac’s are likely harder to find used rims/winter tires that fit. However I purchased three sets over the years of lightly used winter tires/rims from folks on a Subaru forum in the summer. I would then use two seasons and sell them for only about $100-$150 less than purchased right before winter.

It was cheap way of getting winter tires and my OEM all-seasons lasted a LONG time really too long (7 years).