5 Tips for Driving a Rear-Wheel-Drive Car In the Snow
Driving my Honda S2000 in the snow is always a nerve-wracking experience. Not just because it’s lightweight and low to the ground, but mainly because it’s rear-wheel-drive. I fishtail around every corner whenever the road gets slushy and grip the wheel hoping that the backend doesn’t swing fully around and hit something. If you drive a rear-wheel-drive car like I do and you live in an area where it snows, here are five tips to help you survive.
1. Buy winter tires for your car
First and foremost, if you can buy winter tires for your rear-drive car, then do it. Some of the most well-known tires include the Bridgestone Blizzak, Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10, and the Yokohama Ice Guard. Considering the tires are the only parts of the car that are connecting it to the ground, it’s important to have the right type when driving in the snow.
All-season tires can work in the snow if that’s what is currently on your car. However, it’s important to note that all-season tires won’t work as well under a certain temperature, typically around 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, which is why a proper set of winter tires is more important.
If you would rather have all-season tires, then I can recommend the Michelin Pilot Sport All-Season 4 tires as they have served me well through a couple of snow days. Although, you won’t find me driving through a crazy snowstorm with them.
2. Add weight to the rear of the car
Another keen tip is to add weight to the rear end of the car. Since a rear-drive car needs more traction at the rear wheels, adding weight by throwing a bag of kitty litter or something else heavy in the trunk will help. One other tactic is to keep the car’s gas tank as full as possible as that will add weight too.
3. Go easy on the gas and brakes
The folks at Cars.com suggest going easy on the gas and brakes when driving a rear-drive car in the snow. That means to drive slower and brake sooner than normal, by doing so, it will ensure that you don’t run into any cars ahead of you and you’ll have more overall control.
Also, make sure not to give the car too much throttle when going around the corner, instead, let off the gas. Doing so will help the car settle and not oversteer when going through a turn. Additionally, make sure not to “death grip” the steering wheel when driving and turning. Gripping the wheel too tight can cause you to overcorrect the car if it slides in addition to causing more unneeded stress.
4. Plan your routes accordingly
While it’s possible to drive a rear-drive car in the snow, it’s also important to plan your route accordingly. Since you won’t have much grip as you would in a front or all-wheel-drive car, you’ll need to ensure that you take the safest route possible.
I personally plan my routes to take as many main streets as I can since I know they have most likely been plowed. Smaller residential streets may not be. Also, when it comes to going up hills, momentum is your best friend. Keep the car going and you should make it up just fine, but if you stop, you may get stuck.
5. Practice driving in snow as much as possible
Lastly, try to practice driving in snow as much as possible when it’s safe. You can drive around on the streets late at night when there’s no one around or find a nice snowy parking lot to practice donuts – I mean, car control. Doing so will enable you to understand how the car reacts and behaves in certain slippery situations so you will know how to handle them.
Driving a rear-wheel-drive car in the snow
Ultimately, driving a rear-wheel-drive car in the snow is not impossible. In fact, it’s not too much different than any other car provided your car has the right tires and you take things slow. Otherwise, you may end up like me in my S2000, sweating bullets behind the wheel and hoping that I don’t run into anyone. Don’t be like me and remember to take it easy and practice.