How bad would a 2WD pickup be in the snow?

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How bad would a 2WD pickup be in the snow?

Postby bk7794 » Sun Mar 12, 2017 12:27 pm

I kind of like the Nissan Frontier. At least the idea of it. You can still get it with a stick and a 4 cylinder so the gas mileage wouldn't be as embarassing. Plus you can use the bed. Anyways, a buddy of mine had a Ranger 2wd with a stick and he always had issues when it rained. He'd fish tail etc. He didn't even bother with it in the snow even though it had snow tires on it.

My question: With a 2wd pickup with about 200lbs of Sand in the back with snow chains on the snow tires in the rear. Would it be that bad?
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Re: How bad would a 2WD pickup be in the snow?

Postby watkins » Sun Mar 12, 2017 12:32 pm

Chains may very well be illegal in your area.

Id also consider more weight.
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Re: How bad would a 2WD pickup be in the snow?

Postby Rope-Pusher » Sun Mar 12, 2017 1:07 pm

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http://www.weight-mate.com/

Prolly should consider a solution somewhere between tossing in loose anvils and installing the weightmate
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Re: How bad would a 2WD pickup be in the snow?

Postby theholycow » Sun Mar 12, 2017 3:21 pm

You can only drive on chains legally during a nasty storm while the road is unplowed, methinks. They'd be easy to put on in the summer, but kinda a pain in the ass in winter (probably ok in an extra-long heated garage). I use them on my yard-only plow truck...that sumbitch is a beast, no amount of snow is too much with 4WD and 4 tires chained up with V-chains.

Needs more weight. Fill bed with snow; decent weight (especially if you pack it in), costs nothing, no theft risk, and if you need bed space you can dump it. Add refilled 1 gallon water bottles (rescued from the recycle bin) for more weight until it's enough.

BTDT. Works fine, especially if you're as awesome as me, and it probably helps to be driving 3-pedal.

Winter tires at all 4 corners, extra credit for studded. Rears should be classic RWD style, not politically correct newfangled style.

Uniroyal Laredo HD/T on my pickup (has 4WD but front diff is a little wack so I did plenty of winter driving in 2WD) with a bed full of snow works fine. With the generic-sounding but incredibly effective Radial Traction XTC on my Buick's rear axle, I waltz up steep hills past stuck 4WD SUVs with all-season tires.

Speaking of which (threadjack warning): I'm having trouble acquiring more Radial Traction XTC 225/75-15 (or 215/75-15, or even 205/75-15). Seems a tire dealer in or west of Worcester MA may have been selling them; I got mine (used) in the area, and I've since seen an ad for a pair of used ones in the same area. Internet doesn't seem to be providing any dealers selling them mail-order, nor any used listings (except unresponsive locals and non-shipping non-locals). Henchmen, go!

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Re: How bad would a 2WD pickup be in the snow?

Postby bk7794 » Sun Mar 12, 2017 8:29 pm

According to AAA

CONNECTICUT
Tire chain usage is permitted for hazardous weather or other related incidents only, but may not damage the highway surface. Tire chains are only permitted between November 15 and April 30.


So I should be safe there. Bummer to hear how lousy it would do in the snow.

I know toyota has a truck that will do 4wd with a 4 pot in it. Anybody think of any SUV/Trucks with a stick? I know the Ram, F250 etc were available. Just trying to see what's out there.
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Re: How bad would a 2WD pickup be in the snow?

Postby bobklobb » Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:13 pm

My dakota does fine in the snow with a few hundred pounds over the rear axle. I've only had it one winter so far, but my grandpa never bothered with weight and he didn't have issues in Minnesota winters. I wouldn't go offroading in the snow with it, but it gets around just fine for me.

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Re: How bad would a 2WD pickup be in the snow?

Postby IMBoring25 » Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:50 pm

The most important piece of equipment for winter driving is the nut behind the wheel. Your buddy either hadn't been familiarized with the techniques for winter driving or had no self-control. There is very little excuse for unintentionally fishtailing all over the place. Intentionally fishtailing all over the place is a whole other matter. :evil:

I spent my entire driving career until last September owning only RWD-only vehicles, and driving them in icy and snowy conditions. I even accidentally wound up on an icy bridge on my motorcycle once, and had pretty much the only vehicle on that bridge that wasn't out of control...

PLEASE focus on learning to drive in those conditions. Get formal training if you have any discomfort. With the skill set, you can drive any vehicle in those conditions. Without it, no vehicle will save you.

My preference for ice and snow is RWD-based, with good tires, a locking rear end, and a manual. The manual is very important, especially with the locking rear end, as a firm shift from an automatic can cause loss of traction on any or all drive wheels. Winter tires, even without studs or chains, make a world of difference if you have consistent enough slick weather. A standard 4WD system isn't necessarily a panacea either. If conditions are partially slick and partially melted, you have to be careful not to tear up a system that doesn't have a center differential on the grippy sections.

Others have had manuals in the past, but the current pickup offerings in the US are:

Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon (2WD Extended Cab I4 only)
Nissan Frontier (2WD only)
Toyota Tacoma (seemingly the best range of cab/engine/drive options with the manual)
Ram 2500/3500 (diesel only)

F-250 just started its second generation without a manual. Ford may get one back with the reintroduction of the Ranger nameplate for 2019, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

If you want a manual in an SUV that feels like a truck, it's pretty much Jeep. There are others, but you get car-ish with them very quickly (Mitsubishi Outlander, Fiat 500X, and Subaru Forester are pretty much as truck-like as you get outside the Jeep line).

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Re: How bad would a 2WD pickup be in the snow?

Postby potownrob » Mon Mar 13, 2017 3:36 am

not worth the bother; just get a 4wd truck.
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Re: How bad would a 2WD pickup be in the snow?

Postby theholycow » Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:08 am

bk7794 wrote:According to AAA
CONNECTICUT
Tire chain usage is permitted for hazardous weather or other related incidents only, but may not damage the highway surface. Tire chains are only permitted between November 15 and April 30.

So I should be safe there.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but it sounds like you'd want to make chains Plan A. Don't count on it. They're an excellent last resort, an excellent emergency tool, and an excellent special-purpose tool (yard plow truck), but a terrible Plan A.

If you're thinking of chains all winter: Nope. Law won't allow that. Even if it did, you'd spend a lot of money on chains and on body repairs when broken chains flail, as well as never being able to drive fast or have an acceptable ride.

If you're thinking of chaining up for storms: Seriously, installing chains in a storm sucks. If it's bad enough for chains then it's bad enough to stay put. Exceptions: Cops, EMS, hospital medical staff, tow truck drivers, plow drivers of course, a few people supplying food for them, and a few people supplying plow parts...that sort of thing. Otherwise you throw them in the toolbox for emergencies.

Bummer to hear how lousy it would do in the snow.


It's not that bad. Some weight in the bed, good tires, and a good driver...problem solved. You don't live on some remote mountain with no neighbors, you live in civilization where the roads do get plowed and even before that other drivers drive on the snow and keep it packed.

I know toyota has a truck that will do 4wd with a 4 pot in it. Anybody think of any SUV/Trucks with a stick? I know the Ram, F250 etc were available. Just trying to see what's out there.

Most compact/"mid-size" pickups can be found with a 4-banger, 5MT, and 4WD, it just was never a popular configuration so you won't find tons of them. Ranger, S-10, Tacoma, Frontier, Dakota. I think the Colorado/Canyon hasn't had a 4 (has it?) but the base engine has been an I5, and probably a few sold with 4WD + Amish.

3/4 ton and 1 ton full-size pickups (Ram 2500/3500, F250/F350, Silverado/Sierra 2500/3500) were more commonly available with a big ol' V8, 4WD, and 3 pedals, but that was a long time ago and I can't imagine one of those would be practical for you at all. 1/2 ton pickups, you'll occasionally find an older one with a V6 and 4WD, most likely regular cab.

Truck-based SUVs, nope. Way back in ancient history some were offered with row-your-own but even then they didn't sell.

Unibody/transverse trucky SUVs, there are a scant few (Rope's Jeep Liberty, and maybe an occasional Hyundai I think). Crossovers there are a few more.

So, yeah...your best bets are crossovers and compact/mid-size pickups.
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Re: How bad would a 2WD pickup be in the snow?

Postby Rope-Pusher » Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:26 am

While driving a RWD vehicle in the snow can be "Managed", tummy it is frustrating to do so. You become the senior-citizen of drivers, needing bigger openings and longer times to pull out onto a road, make a left turn amid the flow of oncoming traffic, accelerate from a standstill through an icy intersection, etc. This can also be noticible when the pavement is merely wet, but it is much worse when snowy or icy.

Maybe it's because I remember driving with RWD cars before FWD became predominant that being saddled with RWD now seems like such a big step backward to me. Maybe after I've gotten old(er) and gray(er), and have taken to referring to my wife as "Mama", i'll be laid back enough to accept the limitations of RWD in marginal-traction situations.
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Re: How bad would a 2WD pickup be in the snow?

Postby theholycow » Mon Mar 13, 2017 12:42 pm

Rope-Pusher wrote:While driving a RWD vehicle in the snow can be "Managed", tummy it is frustrating to do so. You become the senior-citizen of drivers, needing bigger openings and longer times to pull out onto a road, make a left turn amid the flow of oncoming traffic, accelerate from a standstill through an icy intersection, etc. This can also be noticible when the pavement is merely wet, but it is much worse when snowy or icy.

Maybe it's because I remember driving with RWD cars before FWD became predominant that being saddled with RWD now seems like such a big step backward to me.

Interesting. In my experience, launch/acceleration traction is not necessarily better for FWD than RWD, given that there is decent weight distribution (either because of a naturally balanced car or because of ballast), though of course exceeding traction brings different consequences. From my childhood I remember when FWD suddenly took the market by storm, and promised better snow traction due to the engine and transmission sitting on top of the axle, but I just haven't seen delivery on that when comparing modern FWD cars to various RWD vehicles.

Maybe it was often true back then, but variables (like the weight of that powertrain package, and its exact placement relative to the axle -- axles have been pushed out towards the bumpers since then -- and tire width) have changed for much of the market since? That could be one explanation for the discrepancy between our experiences.

FWD does have advantages in snow/ice for sure. There is an excellent advantage in stability. RWD will fishtail from torque-induced traction loss whereas FWD will just be pretty dead and continue with existing inertia. In some situations being able to aim your torque (by steering the drive wheels) can be helpful (that left turn scenario, halfway through the turn).

Of course, OTOH, being able to apply torque to rear wheels can be useful at times too. Once you are in an oversteer situation, sometimes torque or engine braking can be useful tools. Then, of course, there's always that old-and-grey thing; if you're gonna have some fun, what's more fun than easily kicking out the rear with a twitch of the foot? :twisted:
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Re: How bad would a 2WD pickup be in the snow?

Postby IMBoring25 » Mon Mar 13, 2017 3:07 pm

Nominally, yes, FWD will be more stable... But it won't always be stable in maneuvering or on varying surfaces. I personally like the instability, both for a little more poignant sense of the amount of available traction (particularly as conditions are changing) and as a reminder to be on one's toes.

I still find poignant the instance of a left turn I made in my unballasted RWD pickup. There was a particularly slick spot mid-turn and the truck started to walk a little. Minor steering correction and I was on my way without leaving my lane. I checked my mirror and saw the Accord behind me (an older one that was definitely FWD) swap ends and head for the outside curb in some combination of backwards and sideways.

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Re: How bad would a 2WD pickup be in the snow?

Postby bk7794 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:12 pm

I was planning on making chains plan A mostly for just Snow storms. Even if its just to get me from the hilly backroads to the highway. You don't need chains when its 20 degrees and dry outside.

Rangers were only available with 4wd for a few years in the later 90s. IIRC.

Tacoma is really the only option. Though the price on them is quite ridiculous. But some are getting a new frame so it makes it a bit better.

Colorado well.. http://www.cheatsheet.com/automobiles/the-10-deadliest-vehicles-on-the-road.html/?a=viewall Also Captive Rotors. But I have looked at them though.

Just a bummer, how often would you really use 4WD. The 2-7 times it snows during the year? It's like the people that drive the Subarus for the AWD. You only use it maybe a few times out of the entire year. ~1-300 miles out of the avg 12k per year.

Frontier I see you can get the v6 with 4WD a few years ago.

Did the dakota even offer a 4 cylinder?
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Re: How bad would a 2WD pickup be in the snow?

Postby Rope-Pusher » Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:41 pm

bk7794 wrote:

Did the dakota even offer a 4 cylinder?


When the Dodge Dakota first de-butted, it was offered with either a 2.5L I-4 or a 3.9L V-6 (4WD only with the 6). The Dakota grew with each new generation, the I-4 went away, and eventually the powertrain choices were a 3.7L V-6 or a 4.7L V-8 when it became known as the Ram Dakota and only the V-6 was of the Amish persuasion.
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Re: How bad would a 2WD pickup be in the snow?

Postby theholycow » Tue Mar 14, 2017 2:16 pm

bk7794 wrote:Just a bummer, how often would you really use 4WD.

If you have it: A lot more than if you don't have it.

When I DD'd my GMC with its Auto-4WD (uses ABS sensors to detect slippage and immediately, smoothly engages otherwise old-school transfer case), sometimes I'd leave that on Auto all winter, then I'd still turn 4WD explicitly on when roads were slick. I also used it when I was gonna jump out hard in traffic on dry pavement...I'd even use 4Lo for that extra kick.

FWIW, if you never use it, trying to save it up or whatever, it won't work when you finally do try to use it. I had a '97 Ranger like that...

If you don't have it:
I don't hesitate to venture out in my Buick in any conditions if I have a reason to drive. I have chains in the trunk but I've never used them. I guess I'm less likely to go out when I shouldn't, though.
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