Traction in snow/ice with 2wd? - Nissan Frontier Forum
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#1 (permalink) Old 10-06-2008, 09:28 PM
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Traction in snow/ice with 2wd?

I'm considering a ski trip this winter and would like to take my '07 SE crew cab 2wd. Wondering if anyone has a comment on how they handle winter driving conditions? I live in Texas where we get ice about once every 2 or 3 years. To be honest I was a a little disappointed with handling on wet roads.
Not sure if I want to attempt Colorado mountain passes.
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#2 (permalink) Old 10-06-2008, 09:50 PM
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Um... I cant even drive my 4x4 in the snow without using 4 low... But I guess my best advice would be to use sand bags and studs?>

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#3 (permalink) Old 10-06-2008, 09:55 PM
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Originally Posted by XE_KING View Post
Um... I cant even drive my 4x4 in the snow without using 4 low... But I guess my best advice would be to use sand bags and studs?>
I am currently on my 9th 4WD pick up and my 4X4 Pathfinder and never had any in four wheel low. I always feel enough traction in 4 hi.
What situations are you in that makes you feel you need it in 4 low?

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#4 (permalink) Old 10-06-2008, 09:56 PM
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well if it gets serious you can always air down your tires. sure you know that. only issue with this is once you do, depending on how much you air down you have to keep your speed down or you run the risk of damaging your tires. of course you could purchase a compressor and air them back up when conditions improve. but anyways having "snow tires" aka all terain will greatly improve your traction. personally, i frequent the mountains, and would never buy a truck without 4wd, it is such an amenity. lastly, you could use chains, but they are a pain, and if they break can damage your wheelwell, paint etc. they will also scratch ur rims, not sure if you care, or just have stock. if you are going to get chains for your tires, keep in mind you get what you pay for.

i hear chains are mostly a west coast thing, but they are your best bet for your trip.
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#5 (permalink) Old 10-06-2008, 10:24 PM
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If you haven't driven in snow that much, I wouldn't recommend your first attempt be mountain roads in Colorado. You've already stated a concern with wet road handling.

May I ask exactly what you are expecting? #1 you are in a truck with a light rear end, welcome to the truck world #2 as road conditions change, so should your driving. A corner that can be taken at speed during dry conditions can't necessarily be taken at the same speed when wet, and most likely can't be taken with ice or snow present at that speed.

As for your request about winter driving conditions, I will say this. (I have driven a winter in da U.P. in a 2wd S10, several years in KS winters in either a S10 or a Silverado, so I have winter and pickup history) Get yourself some sandbags. Some go with two or three. They weigh about 60~70#s each depending on source. I typically go with 300~600# of sand depending on road conditions. Worse roads = more sand. Your gas millage WILL suffer with this weight, deal with it.

Take things slow, from a stop, feather the gas. Anticipate needing to stop before you need to stop. If you apply the brakes and begin to slide LET OFF THE BRAKES. I know it contradicts thought processes, but do it. Then begin pumping them gently. If you aren't going that fast, just smash the brakes and get used to how the ABS works, that's the computer pumping your brakes better than you can.

If you attempt to pass, make sure you have 1/2 ~ 3/4 mile to do it in. Change lanes EXTREMELY slowly, whipping out to pass will put you in the ditch. If the rear goes left, steer left, if it goes right, steer right (turn toward where your rear end is going).

Do yourself a favor. Find some snow, or ice to play on in a parking lot. Do some donuts. Be able to spin the truck on your terms, not the ice/snow's terms. If you're in Colorado with Texas plates and they stop you while playing in the parking lot, explain to the officer honestly, that you are attempting to learn in a controlled environment how your truck reacts to such conditions. Best to do when the business is closed.

If you got this far, there's a chance you might try some of it or a chance you think I am a windbag, either way, be careful!

Last edited by ffips; 10-06-2008 at 10:29 PM. Reason: Readability
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#6 (permalink) Old 10-06-2008, 11:12 PM
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I grew up in the Adirondacks in NY.
All the info above is pretty good, except maybe the "airing down the tires" part - to which I completely disagree(never tried though) - not even factoring in the "cold fingers letting out air" factor... typically skinny tires do better in the snow as they break through the crap and get to traction.

I have driven in lots of different snow conditions and AT or snow tires are the biggest variable. I drove my 05 over Donner Pass in CA w/ about 6-8" of fresh and never needed 4wd. The CHP was stopping all cars and making them put on chains except those w/ AT and 4wd (which I have). The only time I needed my 4wd was to get out of the parking lot after 3 days parked and being partially plowed in.

I recommend:
going slow
weighting down the back w/ at least 400lbs - camper tops work great for weight and dry storage.
Remember that getting going is much easier than stopping.
If you are looking for traction - if possible - put your right side tires off the road a bit - think dirt and gravel area near the pavement.
Carry a tow rope and gloves, clothes etc... just in case you get stuck.
Don't over do it and drive like a half blind 80 yr old grandma and you'll be fine. Worst that can happen is you trash your truck.... right?

Good luck. Where you going anyway? I am in Austin now and usually make a trip or 2 up to Denver every winter. Its not to bad of a drive as long as you know what weather you are getting into. Thinking I might try Durango and Telluride this year. Can't wait for some time on the snow.

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#7 (permalink) Old 10-06-2008, 11:36 PM
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You know, if you stay on the main roads and drive cautiously I don't think you'd have a problem.... assuming the weather cooperates. If you are hoping to come to Colorado and get dumped on you won't be happy either way (driving in a snow storm or no fresh snow). Sandbags are a must, but 2wd will get the job done most of the time. On an average winter day heading up into the mountains I stay in 2wd as CDOT does a pretty good job on I-70. I'd definitely stick to the hills right off of I-70, e.g. Keystone, Loveland, Breck, Vail, Copper, etc. You should also have a somewhat flexible schedule so if it dumps the day you plan to leave you can hang out for another day to let the roads clear. This site (CDOT Traveler Information) can be very useful and is usually pretty accurate. Oh, and if last year was any indication do not plan to go to SW Colorado (e.g. Telluride, Wolf Creek, etc) as you could have been stranded for a while. I say go for it but be sensible and you'll have a good trip. Hope that helps. Good luck.
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#8 (permalink) Old 10-06-2008, 11:54 PM
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Having the right tires is key. I had a 2wd S10 two trucks ago and didnt have too many problems except on back roads when it was snowing hard, and I had a 50-gallon rubbermaid container about 2/3 full of sand.

I drive home in 2wd all the time when it's snowing but I use 4wd any time my family is with me. Never have had to use 4-lo in the snow, even bombing through fields with 2+ ft of unbroken snow in them.

One benefit to 2wd is you know exactly how slick the road is when you start from a stop, something a lot of people dont get when they have 4wd (we see more 4wd off the road when it's snowing than anything else).

weight in the bed, decent tires, take your time and you should be fine.

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#9 (permalink) Old 10-07-2008, 09:03 AM
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Lots of good info. Thanks. I've made this trip many times, and have survived some nasty conditions, but always in a Honda Civic. Great for handling, not so great for hauling gear. Think I will add some weight in the bed and give it a go.
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#10 (permalink) Old 10-07-2008, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Mainerunr View Post
One benefit to 2wd is you know exactly how slick the road is when you start from a stop, something a lot of people dont get when they have 4wd (we see more 4wd off the road when it's snowing than anything else).
what he said is 100% correct. I've lost w/each of my 4 WD trucks, but never in a 2 by. With 4WD your confidence builds gradually up to an unrealistic level, essentially denying that the laws of physics exist. Anyway, as far as 2 wd trucks go, this is the best handling and traction ever with no weight in the bed as they are tail-heavy as it is.
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