I’ve heard conflicting ideas about putting bags of salt or sand in the bed of front wheel drive trucks during the winter to help the back from sliding around. I’ve heard it makes no difference, also that it only helps if you put bags in the front seat. What’s the deal? I have bags in there now.
Your truck is rear wheel drive…300-400 pounds of extra weight in the back WILL improve traction but it will also reduce mileage and increase braking distance. It’s a trade off… I would load the sand-bags (not salt) when you really needed the extra traction and unload them when you don’t. I know, that’s asking a lot these days…
This is one of the favorite debates here on CarTalk, use the Forums search feature (keep trying different “key words”) you will find them.
The majority opinion is that a tube of sand in the bed will turn your truck into an unstopable demon:) Really the opinions are various but some sure like the idea.
To Caddyman’s good advice, I will add that the ballast weight should be secured directly over the drive wheels–which in the case of your truck are the REAR wheels.
If the weight is placed toward the rear of the bed, it will result in a “pendulum” effect when cornering on slick surfaces, and will actually help to induce spin-out.
If the weight is secured above the drive wheels, it will help your traction, even though it will tend to increase stopping distances. If you want to know why the weight must be secured, think of the term “loose cannon”. That term was coined by the Royal Navy of old, and it described what happened on the ship if one of those very heavy cannons managed to break loose in heavy seas. It was not a pretty picture, nor would it be in your truck if the ballast weight is not secured.
Incidentally, just about the only front wheel drive truck was the old VW Rabbit-derived pick-up. Yours, just like every other truck on the market nowadays uses the rear wheels as the drive wheels. The only exception would be trucks that have 4WD.
I drove a delivery pickup for Carquest for 6 years and We put 2 to 4 sand bags in the back of all our trucks in the winter time. I am convinced it helps a lot and does not turn the truck into an “unstable demon”.
Elly did you not see the “emotion” symbol? it looks like this it means I am making a joke, too take my advice “with a grain of salt”
The sand in the back will help overall control but it is not the optimal solution. The optimal solution is a set of snow tires, and a set of summer tires. The second best is mud grips, year round tires but less highway mileage. The third best is sandbags anywhere you can squeeze them in.
sorry, oldschool, I missed your “emotion symbol”. A vew “grains of salt” could help in an emergency:)
I think it was last year we had a poster asking about putting extra weight in the trunk of a front drive car.
I like Caddyman’s suggestion of being willing to monitor the weather and move bags in and out as needed. Worthwhile because in reality, who ever secures weight in the back enough to keep it put in a collision ?
The optimal, is all of the above in your list.
IIRC, mountainbike constructed a wooden framework to contain the ballast over his rear wheels. He may be willing to share the design of that with us again.
Let me amend my comments to just recommend that if not secured, you give up on the optimal ballast idea and stack bags against the front of the truck bed.
I ran two 2x4s lenthwise down the bed front to tailgate, with two transverse 2x4s centered just fore of the axle and a 1/4" plywood bottom. The box was dimensioned to hold two layers of 2x8x16 patio blocks. On top oof the box I screwed another sheet of 1/4" plywood. Everything was assembled using decking screws.
This provided compact weight where I wanted it, secured the blocks so they could not become projectiles in an accident, and I still had a flat surface in the bed to haul wood, sheetrock, plywood, etc.
There’s another reason I recommend against sandbags and/or saltbags. They retain moisture and rot the bed.
Sand, not salt. If you don’t have that bed thoroughly coated with bed liner, carrying salt back there on a long-term basis is begging for rust.
Also, salt is only going to do you any good if you’re relatively close to freezing. It works (for getting you unstuck, not for giving you traction on the drive wheels) by lowering the freezing point of water. Sand works no matter how cold it is.
What works better, though, is a shovel. Digging trenches for your wheels to go through gives you more traction than a couple bags of sand will. A shovel also helps in spreading the sand. So carry one of those back there, too.
The maximum tractive effort exerted by the drive wheels is given by the equation
F=W * u
Where F= tractive force
W = weight on the drive wheel
? = coefficent of friction between driven wheel and surface
So YES, more weight on your drive wheels increases tractive effort.
But, tractive effort does not keep you from sliding around in curves. That is determined by v^2/r, ?, and the banking angle of the curve. Weight is not in the equation.
Banking angle and radius of curve have both been decided by someone else. The only variables you can change are v by slowing down, and most importantly, ? by using chains or studs.
[b]This provided compact weight where I wanted it, secured the blocks so they could not become projectiles in an accident, and I still had a flat surface in the bed to haul wood, sheetrock, plywood, etc.
There’s another reason I recommend against sandbags and/or saltbags. They retain moisture and rot the [/b]
This will keep load in place during normal driving but…I would add secure frame to bed tie downs or frame and use sand instead of stone.
I apologize for amending the comments and the following little rant.
I recommend we never, never, never use stone, wood etc. as ballast, even if we think it’s supported. All this does is perhaps deflect it elsewhere. Unless bolted to frame, It will not stay secure in accident and frame becomes a projectile itself. I can tell you from experience…it does not work and I’ve seen the results of make shift wooden frames trying to hold back stone in accidents.
I’ve had 8 bags of double wrapped traction tube sand for 12 years, stored in my garage between use as ballast. They have NEVER retained water or leaked unless I intended so for traction use. Maybe a few have never heard of it by some responses.
Perhaps we’re in the minority when we say, everything you put in a pick up bed is a dangerous, unprotected projectile in a collision. That’s why we generally keep heavier loads braced against the front of the bed and secured to tie downs and removed or use only “soft” dispersible ballast.
But then, who really cares about the innocent bystanders when a PU is in a collision as long as nothing hits the cab?
Does “F” matter if “u” is zero? or if “u” is so low that when “W” is maximum that the “F” value is not enough to move the car.
“But, tractive effort does not keep you from sliding around in curves. That is determined by v^2/r, ?, and the banking angle of the curve. Weight is not in the equation.”
Weight may not be in your equation, but it certainly is in “mother nature’s” Weight distribution is extremely important in keeping you from “sliding around curves”. I’m sure your magic formula, is with respect to “one wheel, one wheel only” to miss quote Sean Connery in “Red October”.
And, buy the way, I think the driver can influence the radius dependent how tight he wants to take the corner depending upon his entrance and exit angle.
You missunderstood the description.
The blocks were esentially sealed in a wooden box with both a bottom and a top seured with decking screws, the box dimensioned to not allow movement of the blocks within.
The ends of the longitudinal 2x4s ran the length of the bed and were secured up against the bed front and the inside surface of the tailgate.
Lateral movement was prohibited by the longitudinal 2x4s fitting tightly between the wheel wells. They being screwed to the box top and bottom as well as the transverse 2x4s (which created the box size and comtrolled the weight location), lateral movement was firmly prevented.
No need to apologize. Clearly my description was lacking, and I too am an emphatic advocate of ensuring that added weight does not become a projectile. That’s the very reason I designed the container the way I did. It’s good that the point was emphasized.
I commend you for your thoroughness. I see your intent in retaining the PU bed usefulness. It hasn’t been the first time my reading comprehension has been suspect.
I just struggle with the elaborate measures to use stone instead of sand.
Thanks for your patience.