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Scion slipping back on inclines when raining

I have a Scion xA that dislikes uphills when it’s raining. If I’m stuck on an incline due to a traffic light, etc., I’m having trouble moving up the incline from a stopped position. I feel like the tires are spinning and the car is slipping back slightly, with fear that I’ll lose control and slide into the car behind me.

I’ve taken the car to two tire shops. The first said that my tire tread is fine, but that I should buy new tires (MIchelin Defenders). The other shop agreed that my tire tread is fine, suggesting that I consider siping the tires or ultimately buying wider tires (they told me the drawbacks) or softer tires. That shop also asked if I’m heavy on the petal, suggesting that I should have a light touch when going uphill from a stopped position, but I believe I’m already doing this.

[Edit to add: I should mention that my tires, while in great condition appearance-wise due to low mileage driving, are about 10 years old.]

Thanks for any and all advice!

Yes, buy better tires.

The older tires get, the harder the rubber becomes and the lower the traction becomes. The more traction the tire has, generally the softer the rubber used for the tread and the faster they wear out.

If you buy better quality tires (generally more expensive) you can get long wear and good traction over the life, within reason Tires have a rating system that read Traction, Temperature and Treadwear. A tire that is rated C, C and 560, will not perform well but will last a long time. A tire rated A, A, 260 with perform well but not last too long. A tire rated A, A and 460 will perform well and last long.

However, with all things come exceptions. Plan to change your tires in 5 years. They don’t get too old and hard in that time but you’d like them worn out so you get good performance. If you drive 3500 miles a year, the 260 treadwear will work fine. If you drive 14,000 miles a year, the 460 treadwear will be fine. Both will wear out in roughly 5 years.


Bingo , we have found the problem . New tires and all will be well.

Yep, old tires=hard tires, and 10 years is OLD!


Agree. I had a set of Cooper all terrain tires on a Jeep years ago. I didn’t drive it long distances, so they got old rather than “worn out”. The tread was still good, but with age they became downright scary in the rain.

Agreed. Hard rubber due to age is the problem. You really need to resolve this ASAP because when tires get like that it’s very easy for them to hydroplane at speed also even if the pavement is barely damp.

Thanks to all who have responded so far. I’m learning a lot. And I’m shocked that neither tire store directly mentioned/forewarned about age of the tires.

They may not have mentioned the reason, but did make the correct recommendation. New tires.

They probably didn’t bother to bend over and look at the date code, so unless you told them how old they were, they didn’t know.

I cannot imagine a street steep enough that this should ever even be possible, barring ice/snow.

The OP stated that this is problematic when it rains. If the rain comes after a dry spell of a few days, there will be oil (dripped from leaking cars) in the pavement, and the rain will bring it to the surface where it produces slippery conditions. The combination of old, hardened tires, oil on the pavement, and even a moderately steep incline could definitely produce that problem.


Yeah I got that. Still never seen or heard of anything like it in my life. Will be stunned if I ever do.
This sounds just wild to me:
—I feel like the tires are spinning and the car is slipping back slightly, with fear that I’ll lose control and slide into the car behind me—

Did you ever feel like you might slide back on an icy hill? Same thing.

Yeah I already said “barring ice/snow.”
What I cannot imagine is this happening on just wet pavement.

Post back if new tires solve the problem.

Will do. Aiming for replacement early next month.

Tell that to the guy who is trying to pull his boat out of the water, tires spinning forward, truck going backwards.


Plus, modern road paint is slippery as all getout when it gets wet, and there tends to be a lot of it at intersections to mark stop lines and crosswalks.

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As a hobby I like to find elderly, neglected motorcycles that I putter around with over a few months and get running well and looking socially acceptable. When I get them, the tires are usually old (10, 15 years or more). Since tires are expensive I just air them up and ignore them while I do the mechanical work. If the machinery comes together and I’ve got it running, I’ll ride it slowly around my neighborhood, testing things out. The old tires are slippery! Sometimes it’s hard to stop without skidding. I do pay attention to them and if they hold air and the valve stems won’t come off with a good pull, I’ll even go into the area and try to put 30-50 miles on it. What is surprising is that those old tires wear down their crust pretty fast and when they are scuffed up they have better traction.

When the bike seems to be reliable again I replace the tires and then sell it. It’s much more fun to ride it when I’m not worrying about the tires suddenly failing when I’m rolling along.