How to Handle a Rear-Wheel-Drive Truck in Snow

  • Nov 4,2019
Truck driving through a snow storm Truck driving through a snow storm

Your pickup truck is built to go where other vehicles can’t. It can handle almost anything, anywhere. All that can change quickly once the snow starts to fall. If you own a rear-wheel-drive pickup, you might be wary of spinning out, fishtailing, or hydroplaning when roads get icy or wet. Ease your concerns by following these winter driving tips. Firestone Complete Auto Care is here to help you keep your cool on those snowy roads.

What Is Rear Wheel Drive?

Before we go over how to control a rear-wheel-drive truck in the snow, let’s talk about what rear-wheel drive means. Trucks, as well as sports cars and truck-based SUVs, often come equipped with rear-wheel drive (RWD).

RWD is a transmission system designed for even weight distribution and more precise handling in optimal driving conditions. It allows the rear wheels to take care of power while the front wheels do the steering. However, in less than ideal conditions, such as snow- or ice-covered roads, RWD comes short of its fellow transmission systems: front wheel drive (FWD), all-wheel drive (AWD), and four-wheel drive (4WD).

In most cases, given how RWD trucks distribute weight, they deliver inferior traction on slippery roads than FWD, AWD, and 4WD vehicles do. Simply put, RWD trucks don’t accelerate well on snowy or icy roads. This means you have a higher risk of losing control of the rear of the vehicle—sliding off the road or fishtailing into an object.

Preventing Problems in a RWD Truck

By taking a few precautionary steps, you can help your RWD truck steer clear of trouble in snowy or icy weather.

1. Add Weight

When you add weight to the rear of your RWD truck, you’re putting extra weight on the axle that generates power. This enables your truck’s tires to better grip the road and reduces the odds of spinning out of control on snow or ice.

To add weight to the back of your truck, load up on heavy items like sandbags, containers of kitty litter or bags of dirt.

2. Practice

Improve your winter driving skills by taking your RWD truck to an empty parking lot and practicing various maneuvers such as three-point turns and parallel parking. Also, consider enrolling in a course that teaches motorists how to cope with wintertime driving.

3. Get the Right Equipment

Winter tires, which offer extra traction in snowy or icy conditions, could be one of the best investments you can make before you hit the wintery roads in your RWD truck. Without winter tires, your RWD truck will likely be more prone to spinning out of control on slick roads. The professionals at Firestone Complete Auto Care can advise you on choosing the best winter tires for your truck.

In some areas, you might be required to put chains on your tires if you’re heading out on snowy or icy roads, even if you’ve got winter tires. In other areas, tire chains might be prohibited. Be sure to familiarize yourself with local rules and regulations before hopping in your truck.

Reacting in Snowy and Icy Settings

How can you keep yourself safe when you encounter a slick road? Here are a few tips.

  • Stay calm. Getting stressed or flustered makes you more likely to make rash decisions about steering and other aspects of driving.
  • Slow down. Driving too fast will put you in even greater danger of getting into an accident.
  • Accelerate slowly. Putting too much pressure on the gas pedal might lead to lost traction and spinning out of control.
  • Leave extra room for braking. Stick to a following distance of six to ten seconds, rather than the normal three to four seconds.
  • Brake carefully. Don’t slam the brakes if your truck is sliding. Steer into the skid and gently accelerate to regain control.
  • Steer clear of trouble. Avoid jerky movements of the steering wheel to prevent oversteering or understeering. Be sure to steer in a smooth, controlled way.

Get Ready for Snow with Firestone Complete Auto Care

Having the right tires for the situation is a great way to stay safe on the road — no matter the season. But the best way is to make sure your rear-wheel-drive vehicle is ready for whatever winter has in store. Visit your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care for a full vehicle inspection and find the best winter tires for your rear wheel drive pickup.

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