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Is RWD all that bad in snow??>

Discussion in 'The Pit - General Discussion' started by Deutsch, Jun 15, 2006.

  1. Deutsch

    Deutsch Well-Known Member

    May be a very naive and stupid question to some, but living in Southern California, this isn't exactly the kind of place where you see snow falling. Anyway, I understand that having AWD (more than obvious) is ideal for snowy weather, I've heard that RWD cars are getting better in these types of climates just the same. For example I read a long term test report in Top Gear where one of the editiors is drving a 535D Touring, he said that the RWD system worked just fine in snowy England during Winter/Spring (the article was written around early spring). Obviously tires and such play a part as well as to what kind of grip you'll have available. I ask because there is a chance that after I graduate from school there's a chance I'll move to NJ for work. Any helpful advice oir experiences shared would be appreciated. Thanks!!!
  2. siko

    siko Well-Known Member

    RWD + Winter Tyres + Basic traction control are more than good enough for winter city driving. Having had both FWD and RWD cars here, I'd say they are about even these days.

    The only difference is the need for winter tyres. If you take a FWD car, the traction difference between having winters or not is about 25%... while for RWD, the difference would be around 75%. So winters are an absolute must for RWD.
  3. PC Valkyrie

    PC Valkyrie Well-Known Member

    It's all about distribution of weight over the drive wheels.

    In a front engine RWD car, there is usually more weight over the front wheels rather than the rear wheels. As such, when the car is starting off in low traction conditions (like snow), it is easier to start spinning the wheels and get "stuck". Even when in motion, it is very easy to fishtail (or oversteer) in low traction conditions when turning for the same reasons.

    In a front engine FWD car, the majority of the weight is over the drive wheels, meaning more traction when starting off in slippery conditions. That's why you are generally less likely to get stuck in snow when trying to start off.

    The only reason why modern RWD cars perform better (compared to the past RWD cars) in the snow is because of modern electronic traction control systems to prevent unwanted wheelspin by braking an individual spinning wheel and/or cutting engine power. A mechanical limited slip differential can achieve similar results. Of course, traction control or a LSD will only work if one of your drive wheels has some traction. If both drive wheels have zero traction, you are still stuck. Electronic stability control systems will also prevent unwanted fishtailing also in RWD cars that are trying to turn too fast in slippery conditions.

    With an AWD car, there is far less chance of getting stuck simply because there there is a high probability that at least one drive wheel will have decent traction to get you started (assuming that there is either an electronic traction control system some sort of mechanical differential which will transfer power to the appropriate wheel with traction).
  4. PC Valkyrie

    PC Valkyrie Well-Known Member

    And yes, I agree that winter tires a MUST for any RWD car. All the electronics in the world can't save if you have zero traction.
  5. Zafiro

    Zafiro Well-Known Member

    With good tires and electonical helps, RWD works fine during winter. Also you need to use your brain and not drive like a racedriver.
  6. Merc1

    Merc1 Well-Known Member Contributing Member

    Right, that is what I was going to say. There is certain skill at driving a RWD in the snow or any type of slippery conditions. Knowing what the car can or can't do plus the right tires is the best way to ensure safe winter driving. Here in the U.S. you see more SUVs on the side of the road during a blizzard than you do RWD cars. Why? Because a lot of SUV buyers really think 4WD will keep them from slipping and thus enables them to speed down a snow-covered road with abandon. NOT. Most BMW and Mercedes drivers will drive in the far right lane with their flashers on when its really bad out, but then again they know that a BMW or Benz will swing their booty around if provoked or abused. Common sense has a lot to do with it.

  7. LaArtist

    LaArtist Well-Known Member

    we get alot of snow here.. and ive always had RWD cars..
    and as the others say... with good winter tires and ESP its no big deal:D
  8. Merc1

    Merc1 Well-Known Member Contributing Member

    I believe that seriously from the European community, but some Americans are thick headed beyond belief when it comes to driving, especially driving in adverse conditions.

  9. drronh

    drronh Member

    Autoweek was recently saying how good their long term 997 S coupe was in the snow without snow tires (in Detroit). RWD + rear engine makes for good traction in the snow, at least until the tires get too wide and torque gets too high.
  10. Centurion

    Centurion Well-Known Member Contributing Member

  11. Deutsch

    Deutsch Well-Known Member

    Thanks for imparting all the invaluable opinions and wisdom guys!!!


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