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RWD Jeep in Rhode Island

Hi everyone!
My wife and I recently relocated from sunny Southern California to Providence, RI for work, and we are getting ready for our first NE winter.
While we’ve been enjoying our time here for the past few months, we are getting nervous about the winter here in NE, Rhode Island in particular.

Coming from California, having a 4WD/AWD is not a common thing unless you find yourself going off-road or skiing up North often. Other than that, having a 2wd is all you need. Now that we’ve been in Providence for a few months, 80% of the cars (SUVs as well) on the road are AWD/4WD, we’ve never seen that many the whole 20 years we’ve been in California. We have a 2007 Jeep Liberty 2wd (RWD) and a 2008 Ford Edge 2wd (FWD). Both cars are equipped with ABS, traction control, and electronic stability program. We’ve been told that the Jeep will do horrible in the winter as it’s a RWD and while my wife’s Edge should be okay since it’s FWD. We can’t afford to trade in my car for a FWD or 4WD/AWD and take on another 5 years of car payment (we are planning on buying a house), and buying a 3rd “beater” Winter car is also out of the question. Our daily commute is less than 5 miles, so we don’t have a long way to go everyday. We are thinking about maybe getting dedicated winter tires, but we do lack a place to store them after Winter.

According to the weather reports we’ve been watching these past few days, there is snow in the forecast, but less than 2 inches. And I’ve been told the streets get plowed pretty quickly after it snows.

I guess I just want to ask everyone for their opinions/experiences are on what the most economical, efficient, and smart route we should take here. Try to find a way to sell my RWD Jeep and get an used 4WD/AWD, get dedicated snow tires, or just keep the all-season we have now and drive defensively?


Add lots of weight in the form of tube sand over the rear axle of the Jeep. 4or5 70 lb bags will do it. It will work wonders. Do it when the forecast calls for it. These light rear end rwd vehicles with a heavy motor in front are miserable in slippery going. The weight will get you well over 50% in the rear. I would try this first ! Add some air to the tires, at least 35 lbs to 38 lbs when you do this. Just make sure you have good tread. RI is not really snow country. Do this first. If you do it right, it will be better in snow then a fwd car. Other then that, I would not do anything special for RI. Your traction control devices will work much better with the added weight.

I have a friend with a two wheel drive rwd Pathfinder in Maine. He does this and does fine. He has all season tires. But, he doesn’t go anywhere you would not take a car. You don’t have 4 wd, so it’s a false sense of security owning a Jeep this way. Treat it like a station wagon, add weight and drive carefully. Also, if there is snow coverd roads and you have a passenger, ask them to ride in the back too…the more the merrier. Practice driving in snow in a parking lot to get the idea of leaving plenty of room between you and others while accelerating, slowing and turning “gently”.

5 mile commute? Nice. How many miles on current tires? Jeep is 6+ yrs old. NEW tires would be great. NEW snow tires would be even better.

I have probably less than 30k miles on my current all-seasons (all 4). I’ve had bad luck with my tires back in CA, blown out a couple of times due to nails to the sidewalls.

Nokian is brand of tire from Sweden, where it is very cold and snowy. Nokian makes a couple of model tires that are “all season” but also are vastly superior to other all season tires in snow and ice. If you can’t store a set of 4 winter tires (I like Michelin X-Ice) then shop for a set of Nokians for each of your cars. The RWD Liberty with a good winter tire will handle the commute as you describe it with out a problem.

4WD and AWD help to get a vehicle moving, but don’t offer superior braking and cornering compared to FWD or RWD. Since you aren’t talking about steep hills in your commute I think you can live without 4WD or AWD as long as you have good winter tires or the Nokian all seasons.

If you don’t add the weight to the rear wheels of this little beast, good traction tires will only help marginally. You need to help them work with good weight distribution. You can take that to the bank as the single, absolute best thing you can do, regardless what you do with tires. Weight distribution should be your number one priority with this vehicle… Braking, cornering and stopping control will all be enhanced. That you have traction control, the added weight will actually turn it into a good winter vehicle for moderate snow travel along with the good tire suggestions.

Btw, 4 wd does help cornering and engine braking in addition to helping it accelerate which in itself, is a huge safety factor, merging and getting through intersections. We keep dissing 4 wd for what it can’t do falsely…with all due respect. It’s just that, overall, you don’t need it where you are. RI is not a tough NE winter drive.

I was trying to find if ur tires were good/bad and evenly worn since u may have rotated them. Now I am not sure if u have 2 newer and 2 original tires?

All my tires are pretty new, I see plenty of thread life left.

If you bought tires in CA, the locals probably weren’t selling tires promoted for good snow travel. Besides, half worn all seasons, regardless of their winter traction rating, will often deteriorate to poor in snow.

Do what the posters say and you should be fine.maybe a set of tire cables or chains for emergencys and practice how to install them-Kevin

Tire, tires, tires…and the driver.
Think about it…never mind the fwd vs rwd…the police Crown Vic cruisers are rwd and THEY are the ones you call when all hell breaks loose…and they git-er-done.

another urban legend
Drove a police Crown Vic in winter for years. It was only acceptable with plenty of weight in the back, which we always had and really good snow tires. When the snow got deep, we left it at the station and took the truck. Had three come down our road last winter on a call with back up. Had to call a sander to get them out. Sorry, Crown Vic’s are no different then any rwd car…need weight, good tires and not much snow and no ice. The reason they get through is simple. In bad conditions when you really have to get there, you call a town plow truck and sander to lead you in. That’s how it was done. The rest of us don’t have that luxury. Now it seems, every town in snow areas has police SUVs with 4 wd when things are bad.

“I see plenty of thread life left.”

If you can see threads poking through the tread of the tire, it is time to junk the tire, as it is unsafe.

Additionally, you should measure the tread depth of the tire, either by using a 25 cent (quarter) coin, or–even better–by using a tread depth gauge. After you measure the tread depth, please come back to this thread in order to report your findings.

Don’t worry too much about Rhode Island winters. Southern New England has a marine climate with a fair amount of influence from the Gulf Stream. The winters aren’t that severe, with extended freezing weather being quite rare. Standard winter driving precautions are sensible, but it’s nothing like the inland areas or further north. Even Boston is not that extreme and Providence is milder. Yes, there are a lot of Subarus up there, but any car will generally do fine as there isn’t much deep snow and minimal ice. My partner’s 87yo mother drives a rwd BMW 3-series and has never had a bit of trouble. She avoids driving in the middle of the worst storms if she can, but that’s just a few days per winter.

Have fun in your new home state. New England offers some of the prettiest country for driving in the summer and fall. Just head out in any direction and you’ll find old towns and interesting bits of history.

Besides, you can ride from one end of RI to the other on a bike in an afternoon. The problem might be though, if you ever decide to drive the rest of NE farther north, you shoud have a better idea of how to go about it other then…just don’t drive in snow.

Never been to RI but In 50 years of driving in Minnesota and South Dakota, all I’ve ever had were rear wheel drive and front wheel drive with all season radials. One thing though, that Jeep might not have much rear traction due to the weight so extra weight could be very important and might want to consider winter tires for it if it causes problems. Some tire shops now will store your tires for you off season if you buy them there and use them for the transfer again in the Spring. I assume they use snow plows and sanding trucks and 5 miles is nothing. Hopefully you can be an hour late sometimes without a hassle. I was always just happy if people made it safely to work in bad weather and didn’t expect them to risk their lives.

Interesting about the Crown Vics. I ordered my Olds with Posi-traction, and that made all the difference in the world for going through deep snow. I’m pretty sure all the Vic police units around here have posi but maybe in some areas they don’t.

With the Edge, as with all FWD cars, try to slow down before you turn or enter a curve. You want to avoid braking during a turn if possible. You don’t want to suddenly get off the gas during a slippery turn either. You shouldn’t have any trouble getting around in either vehicle.

If you get a good set of winter tires, such as Michelin “Ice-X” or Bridgestone “Blizzak” tires, you shouldn’t have much problem in all but the worst conditions. But if you’re not used to driving a RWD car in snow and ice, you’re going to be in for a surprise!

The best thing you can do is once you get some appreciable snowfall, find a large, empty, uncleared parking lot and practice sliding your car around and learn what to expect as far as handling and how long it takes to stop under slippery conditions.

Ok, I will ask. What brand tires do you have? What model? Goodyear LS? So forth and so on.

Thanks for agreeing with the weight.
You are right. All Police versions that we had with limited slip or " positraction" as it was called. But, it’s a double edge sword. It does help in deep snow but only up to te floor pan, and only if you have substantial weight. If you don’t, they are scary in snow. If both wheels loose traction while spinning, you begin loosing the entire rear while normal rwd keeps tracking with the wheel that doesn’t spin. So, great for starting off, not so great otherwise.

To hear other people say, all you need is good tires and technique for this car and you can go anywhere in it without addressing weight distribution, simply blows my mind. ( easy to do).

So OP puts snow tires on only and still have a crappy winter vehicle. That will easily happen. I know of several people who had these things ( Jerp Liberty’s) and they had the same scary problem. They never addressed the weight distribution. This is easily, the number one problem with this vehicle. Guess none have driven one in snow.