Now it's a worry to drive a rear-wheel drive car in the winter? Good grief!


#1

What’s going on? Idiotic enough that a caller from Bearsville, a tiny tiny burg, ragged the local mechanic, (let’s hope she has no breakdowns in near that garage, but even Los Brothers refererred to rear-wheel drive as if it were a “thing.” Not, so, you have rear-wheel drive, and it’s winter. Don’t drive like an idiot. So, (and I know Los Brothers were not saying this), as long as you have front-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive, you’re fine. You can drive while watching a video, texting, calling, using your gps, and changing your underwear, during a blizzard - no problem. I don’t get it at all… I just don’t.


#2

I totally agree, now police departments have 4 wheel drive trucks to deal with the 6 inches of snow we get here occasionally. We now expect to drive 15 over the speed limit any time of year, in all road conditions, inches from the car in front of us, all while having a few drinks and a prozac in us, on the phone texting and fooling with car gps systems.

The days of the true driver is long gone. We are all a bunch of sissies now.


#3

It seems to me that, with proper weight distribution, RWD is what you’d want in the winter, if forced to settle for one driven axle.

The “worst case scenario” for getting moving is uphill. This will naturally tend to transfer weight over the rear axle, favoring RWD.

The only problem is, once wheelspin occurs, the rear won’t want to track without help, and you’ve got to steer it back into place (kinda like balancing a broom by the handle, but in only 1D.)

But that’s just gaining a “seat of the pants” feel and rather quickly learned: some remarkably stupid people drive just fine in snow, dirt, and sand!


#4
It seems to me that, with proper weight distribution, RWD is what you'd want in the winter, if forced to settle for one driven axle.

Even with the proper weight distribution…fwd still has it’s advantages. Ever get stuck in a snow rut with a rwd vehicle? With rwd you have to dig yourself out because the more you spin your tires the worse the rut gets. With fwd all you have to do is turn the wheel and you’re no longer in the rut.

And it’s very difficult to compensate the weight distribution of the engine sitting right over the wheels. I grew up and learned how to drive with rwd vehicle in one of the snowiest areas in the country. I’ll take fwd any day if I only had 1 drive axle.


#5

I’ve had 9 rear wheel drive cars and 3 front wheel drive ones since 1958. With proper winter tires and sane driving habits we’ve done very well over the years. When we lived in the Great Lakes snow belt we had only rwd vehicles and made out just fine. Agree that true driving skill are disappearing!

Truck sales have held up very well in spite of most of them being rwd only.


#6

@MikeInNH has a great point. Getting your car unstuck is a lot easier when it’s FWD.

My first car was RWD, and although it is true that a moderately competent driver should be able to handle a properly equipped RWD car in winter weather, I like having extra traction on my drive wheels.

Let’s not forget that most RWD vehicles are heavier luxury vehicles or older heavy vehicles, making this an apples-to-oranges comparison. Today’s economy cars are light weight, and making one of them RWD would be akin to driving a small pickup truck with no weight in the back. Driving a RWD car that light on snow would be nothing like driving my father’s old Dodge Dart in the snow.


#7

The advantages of rwd vs fwd lie in this simple fact…in order to realize the advantages of rwd and use those advantages, you have to know how to drive. For example, when the weight shifts to the rear climbing a hill in rwd, you increase traction. Even if the wheels start to spin, you can still steer the car and it will follow. In a fwd drive, when the wheels start to spin, you loose steerage and have ease off the gas. That reduces momentum for making the hill. The same thing occurs in a corner. So, just as @meanjoe75fan says. Properly prepared, properly driven, rwd has all the advantages over fwd. If you don’t know what you are doing or are too lazy to prepare the car, get fwd.
When I drove 2wd trucks, they were so superior to fwd ANYTHING in snow it wasn’t worth comparing. My wife and I always took my 2wd truck in snow. Of course in addition to good winter tires, like our fwd car had, we had weight over the drive wheels. I can’t imagine a police car with fwd that had to do anything but monitor parking.

@Whitey
When you guys say fwd is better, it only refers to a poorly prepared rwd car. Like I said, if a driver is too lazy to pprepare their car properly, he(she) SHOULD have fwd.


#8
For example, when the weight shifts to the rear climbing a hill in rwd, you increase traction.

You have to get at a pretty steep climb to shift the weight to where the weight to a RWD vehicle is more then a comparable FWD vehicle. The hill I grew up on in Pulaski NY…the ONLY vehicles that made up that hill during our infamous snow storms was 4wd, VW bugs and the limited fwd vehicles at the time (Cadillac Eldorado). You had a RWD vehicle and you didn’t make it home before the lake-effect storm dumped 5-10" of snow…you usually ended up parking at the bottom of the hill and walking the rest of way. Then go back down and dig yourself out after the plows. All these people with RWD vehicles had their vehicles properly equipped…and they had many years experience driving in snow. Not the mere 100" of snow we get every once in a while in NH.


#9

@dagosa, we’ve recently been on similar terrain and already know we disagree - so I’ll just mention again that I have no idea where you have gotten this thing where you’re down on FWD in the snow. People who know what they are doing and are properly equipped do great in the snow with FWD.

@Whereisthebus, I heard the segment. This wasn’t really a significant part of it. Methinks thou doth protest too much. So “what’s going on” is apparently that you are just as good at making mountains out of molehills as those you seem to want to criticize.


#10

@dagosa, are you trying to start an argument by agreeing with me in the most contrary way possible? I suggest you give my post a re-read, especially since I never claimed FWD was better. I simply expressed a preference after having driven both. I bet you completely skipped past where I wrote “…a moderately competent driver should be able to handle a properly equipped RWD car in winter weather…”

I don’t mind you disagreeing with me, but if you’re going to do that, at least make sure we actually disagree.


#11

@Whitey, dagosa has a bone to pick with FWD in the snow. Still DK why. But I know he can only have it by not having spent enough time behind the wheel of FWD in the snow.


#12

Having driven many RWD cars and FWD cars, I can say that I much prefer AWD to either of them.
However, if I didn’t have an AWD vehicle, I can tell you–from my experience–that I would much prefer a FWD vehicle to a RWD vehicle in the snow.

As evidence of the superiority of FWD in winter conditions, I offer the example of Saab.
When it was pretty much the only FWD vehicle available in The US, they had spectacular success selling their cars in…Vermont, NH, Maine, and upstate NY. Would the customers in those areas have flocked to Saab if it wasn’t superior to their old RWD cars in the snow?


#13
The US, they had spectacular success selling their cars in...Vermont, NH, Maine, and upstate NY. Would the customers in those areas have flocked to Saab if it wasn't superior to their old RWD cars in the snow?

Drive around the Tug-Hill Plateau area in NY and look at all the RWD vehicles you see on the road during the winter. Most are 4wd or AWD. The rest are FWD. You can count on one hand the number of RWD vehicles. They all learned years ago. FWD with 4 good snow tires beats RWD with 4 snows and 400lbs of sand in the trunk.


#14

“You can count on one hand the number of RWD vehicles.”

Of course, other than pick-ups RWD is hard to come by anymore.


#15

Even the troopers in that area of NY have SUV’s. The RWD cars just don’t cut it.


#16

I learned to drive in the relatively flat upper midwest when everything was a rear driver except for a very few four wheel drive vehicles, most were jeeps. We owned rear drivers for years until our first front driver, a 1978. It was simply amazing in snow; I’ll never forget my first winter drive in that car. We liked the car, a Plymouth Horizon but it is now considered to be less desirable than what we thought at the time but it was wonderful in the snow. A rear driver with conventional radial tires was much better than a rear driver with bias ply tires in snow but a front driver with ordinary radials was far better yet. I have never owned a front driver with radial winter tires. Those might be a good thing too.


#17

I’d like to add that a rear driver, other than having less ability to get unstuck in deep snow or geting going on an icy road or slippery upward incline, is more controllable than a front driver in slippery conditions. I could drive at pretty much normal speed on an icy freeway if nobody else was around and no quick steering changes were needed or sharp curves were encountered. A good rear driver is more predictable than a front driver but a front driver does not at all feel unsafe to me when roads are slippery. Recently after many years with front drivers only, I drove our new rear driver on a slippery road. It frightened me a little as I had forgotten how a rear driver should behave on a slippery road.


#18

After buying a pickup and putting 700# of paver bricks in the bed, I’ve discovered just how poorly FWD cars corner in the snow. Any lateral Gs at all and they just plow straight ahead…and there’s nothing you can do…both gas and brakes exacerbate the problem.

On RWD, less susceptible…and if I do get a bit ham-footed on the brakes, I can blip the throttle to rotate the truck as needed.

I wonder: with enough weight, clearance, and a “locker” diff…just how bad would the roads need to get to best a RWD pickup on snows?


#19

Docnick, yes truck sales are doing well, but most of them are NOT RWD. Pickup sales in northern states are dominated by 4WDs. And today’s replacement for the family wagon is an SUV…with AWD.
And even the former RWD stronghold: luxury sedans, has been converted. Most Mercedes can now be bought with 4-Matic, BMWs with X-Drive, and of course Audis with Quattro.


#20
9:28AM Docnick, yes truck sales are doing well, but most of them are NOT RWD.

I was at the Boston car show this past weekend…almost ALL mid-size and smaller SUV’s are FWD/AWD now. The ones are aren’t FWD/AWD are also body on frame.

The full size SUV’s still seem to be staying body-on-frame.