I have a 2009 Toyota Corolla that sorely needs all new tires. I bought 2 new ones just in time for the snow. Since my car is front wheel drive, I thought the new tires should go on the front and the old ones on the rear. The local shop informed me that the current recommendation is to put the new tires on the rear even though the car is front wheel drive. I’d like to know what the consensus in among drivers and/or experts as to the handling of the vehicle in snow.

The tire shop did what all of the major tire manufacturers recommend, namely that the better tires should be placed on the rear. While this may sound counter-intuitive, this is so that you are less likely to have the rear of the car slide out on a slippery curve.

Of course, the best approach to driving in the snow is to do the following:

Leave a VERY long following distance between your car and the car(s) in front of you.
Drive much more slowly.
Turn on your headlights.
Clear ALL snow from the car, including the roof, the headlights, the directional signals, and the tail lights.
Don’t do anything suddenly. Accelerating, braking, and turning should be done much more gently than usual. Make believe that there is a raw egg between your foot and the pedals, and that you are attempting to keep from breaking that egg. Remember that a sudden move will break it!

VDCdriver is correct. Putting the tires on the back prevents a spin and very likely a crash. This is more important than having traction to go. Many tire shops will refuse to put newer tires on the front for this reason.

However, if your original tires were that bad, keeping two of them means your car isn’t particularly safe right now. I’d strongly suggest getting the other two new ones right away before you hurt yourself or someone else (possibly getting sued in the process for knowingly driving a dangerous car).

If you Corolla ‘sorely needs all new tires’, then you really need 2 more. The tire shop did what they were supposed to do, but you’ll need to find some money somewhere for 2 more tires, you’re not safe if the front tires are nearly worn out.

Thanks, I appreciate your thoughts & the driving in the snow refresher!

I’d even look at 2 decent used tires in than situation, make sure they’re the right size, matched brand and model, and that they’re not too old.

When ANYTHING turns or maneuvers, whether it be a car or a human, it needs an anchor. When turning a car effectively with the front wheels you need lateral traction in the rear for it to brace against. That is why traction in the rear is more important for turning. If the lateral traction is not there, the rear swings out, and the greater the traction difference on front, the more violently it moves. Try stepping to the left on ice with you left foot and tell me which foot slips…you need MORE traction on the right anchor foot.

In driving there is no easy answer, with a “putting the best on rear solution”. The majority of braking and all acceleration is done by the front. So in getting just two good tires with poor tread depth on the others, snow traction is a matter of; do you want to slide into an coming car head on or spin into it side ways ?

Get two more new tires, the same make and model if you are concerned about winter driving and staying alive…and keeping that innocent driver alive too, passing in the opposite lane who did everything right with 4 good tires.

BTW, the standard tires when new on some Toyotas could stand replacement for winter driving…

Here’s my simple take on it:
If you lose traction on the front tires you’ll lose acceleration.
If you lose traction on the rear tires you’ll lose control (unless you’re an exceptional driver).