RWD wheel spin

I own a 2010 Jeep Liberty and this is my first RWD vehicle (when set in the normal 2WD mode of course). I notice that whenever I accelerate from a stop, on even a slightly wet road, the rear wheels spin and I get the traction light on my dashboard. I then need to take my foot of the gas and accelerate ohhhh soooo slowly. I’ve never had this kind of wheel spin on my previous AWD or FWD vehicles. Is this a known “feature” or RWD vehicles? Or maybe my one year old tires are inadequate? With my Liberty I could try switching to 4WD LOCK mode before attempting the acceleration to see if this helps.

You need to a) lighten up on the gas pedal and b) evaluate those rear tires. That’s pretty much it. Its not a feature of anything except jackrabbit starts and/or bad tires. The traction control engagement is a response to that. Its not responsible for it.

This is going to be a learning process for you. There are a lot of people who drive the Jeep Liberty without the problems you are having. A RWD vehicle with a V6 engine (3.7) can spin the tires if you accelerate quickly especially on a wet or icy road. It’s the nature of the beast. You just need to slow down. If not then the vehicle will have to be driven in 4WD which will cause your fuel economy to suffer. I would opt to slow down.

Check the type of tires it has. The link below should help. If the tires are meant for dry cruising, they’ll be terrible in the wet.

Check also your tire pressure. If it’s too high, you’ll spin easily.

lastly, jack up the back end, spin the wheels by hand, and see if you have a dragging brake. A dragging brake on one wheel will cause ready spinning of the other wheel.

Is the 4WD Lock on your Jeep good for full time use? Check your manual. If it is, you can leave it in 4WD, cost you maybe 1 mpg.

Sounds like a tire/right foot problem, not a RWD problem…

I had the opposite problem on the 1952 Dodge with the “lift and clunk” semi-automatic transmission my parents owned when I was in high school. It was impossible to spin the tires on this rear wheel drive. The only way this car would “lay rubber” was if the fan belt slipped.

I agree this is likely an operator and/or tire issue. The fact the tires are only 1 year old doesn’t mean much.
The tire compound could be responsible.

Some year ago I had a set of Kelly tires on my other Lincoln. Even with 90% tread, on a damp road surface that car would spin the rear tires and on occasion even fishtail when accelerating from a stop. It would even do this without depressing the accelerator pedal; simply removing my foot from the brake pedal would cause it.
Many times I had to hold the speed down to 55 MPH on a 70 or 75 posted damp (no water pooling) turnpike due to those tires because the car would skate all over the place. Even then it was often a 2 hands on the wheel and don’t relax for a second situation.

Those were the worst tires I’ve ever seen in my life and they were barely tolerable on dry pavement, much less wet.

The comments seem to indicate that it isn’t an RWD issue. That leaves (1) my driving style, or (2) the tires. I’ve been driving for 25+ years now and have never really experienced wheel spin on acceleration from a stop before (maybe once a year?). With this car I get it regularly. I haven’t changed my driving style and developed a lead foot … so it doesn’t seem to be “me”. The one-year old tires have good tread and I purchased the make/model from Tire Rack based on them having good traction in rain and snow (used their ratings). That was my criteria. The tires were rotated and pressure checked two weeks ago as part of my regular maintenance. My 4WD LOCK mode is not meant for continuous use … so I might just try using it for these wet acceleration times and see if it helps. Else I might just replace the car since not only is it annoying, it is dangerous at a couple intersections that I use everyday and must merge into traffic quickly. Not crawl! Thanks.

One other possibility - some cars are built with very rapid throttle ‘tip-in’, it takes verly little foot movement to give it lots of gas. Maybe to make the driver on the test drive think it’s a powerful engine, who knows. But I find it easier to spin tires on cars like that until I get used to them.

Ease up on the accelerator. I made the same mistake once when I was driving my mom’s Nissan Armada (when its not in 4wd it runs on RWD) because I’m used to driving my car which is FWD.

As an example … every weekday I approach a non-lighted intersection where I need to turn left. The traffic coming from right, to left, is pretty heavy so I need to wait for a sufficient gap in cars to make my left turn. In my AWD, then FWD car, I knew how large a gap was needed before I could pull out and do my turn. I just needed a “normal” amount of time to complete my turn and get up to speed. With this car, happens to be RWD, the wheel spinning or slow acceleration required to not make the rear wheels spin means I need an incredibly large gap in cars since it is taking me twice as long to complete the left turn. This means a long wait indeed for such a big gap in cars to arrive. So yes, I can ease up on the accelerator, which I must do to avoid wheel spin (and my car not moving) … but that doesn’t help with my commute. Thanks.

Most RWDs that I have owned were prone to wheel spin when pulling away from a stop on wet streets, especially on an incline. For the past 30+ years I have purchased 4 bags of oil dry and loaded them against the tail gate and covered them with plastic each winter. When there was an accumulation of ice and snow, throwing the oil dry under the rear wheels was very helpful to get moving but the weight alone usually saw me through till spring. And 200 pounds behind the rear axle results in a significantly greater weight being exerted on the drive wheels as the leverage shifts weight from the front.

Does your truck have any modifications on it?
Suspension, drivetrain, chassis lift, engine performance?

If you bought it used, the previous owner might have spruced it up a bit.

I would recommend you go test drive another one from a dealership under the same conditions, and see if that truck acts the same way.


I agree with BC, see if you can test drive a similar Liberty for comparison’s sake. I’ve driven a 2008 Liberty (basically the same vehicle) with the 3.7 a number of times under a variety of conditions and have never spun the rear tires. And yes, the 4x4 is for part time use on slippery surfaces only.

As a random thought…Any chance of slippage in the trans or rear end, which then catches at a higher rpm? i.e., basically the equivalent of a “neutral drop?”

I bought my 2010 Liberty as new, so no modifications.

If anything FWD cars are easier to get wheel spin out of. What was your previous vehicle?

All RWD vehicles with light rear ends will spin wheels on wet roads. Pickups do it all the time. Recommended tire pressures are so high these days that it almost can’t be avoided.

The jeep liberty in this set up with the part time 4 wd is a remake of the old Jeep cherokee Classic . For those who drive with a lead foot, it sorely needs weight in the back like a pickup and probably better winter tires too this winter if you drive in snow. But unlike a pick up, owners are less apt to throw tube sand or the like in the back because of the loss of room in the back. 4 bags,of 70 lbs each tube sand would help emensely. I have driven these things and the only use that makes them worth keeping for me is towing and off road. If you use these old school for SUVs drive trains for on road use alone and don’t adjust your driving habits, I feel you would be much better served by an awd compact suv like an Escape, Compass from jeep, CRV or Rav for those jack rabbit starts. Every other truck based Suv would do the same in two wheel drive when driven this way with no added weight in the back.

The typically incompetent sales person should have steered you to an awd model if you don’t tow or drive off road frequently. I feel these types of SUVs with your drive train are much more specialized then buyers think and could lead to control problems too while driving in slippery weather if you are not more careful.

To expand on Rod Knox’s post; the weight should be over the axle not against the tailgate.