Debate this with me: FWD car, good driver, where to put only 2 winter tires, front or back?

reddman

Fabber
Location
SL,UT
I know tire shops all say just buy 4, and if you must only run 2 winter tires, to put them on the back, even if it is a FWD car. I would say that is sound advice for non-drivers, the average soccer mom who loves her ABS brakes and isn't well practiced in the art of straightening out a skid.

But what if a GOOD driver, one who has years of experience getting sideways intentionally and has an exceptional understanding of traction, how to keep it, play with it, and get it back when a skid has started, what if their primary winter issue in their little Honda Civic is front end traction? This driver has decades of experience successfully piloting 2WD cars (both FWD and RWD) on all season tires (or even worse, Super Swampers :rofl:) through Utah winters, and actually enjoys snowy driving, he wants to break the standard soccer mom rule and go winter tires up front, and good all seasons out back. (hypothetically speaking, this individual also quit their job to take the month of November off to finish several projects before starting their new gig, and is on a budget) 😉

I trust the opinions of my fellow off-roaders much more than tire retailers. Ya'll understand performance driving. What is your opinion, winter tires doing business up front, or partying out back? Am I crazy for wanting to "break the rules" by putting traction where I have noticed it is lacking, while spending the bare minimum on an old Civic that probably doesn't have many winters left in her?
 

Spork

Tin Foil Hat Equipped
Front wheel drive it's all about business up front. That's where I stuck them when I only ran 2 snow tires. The nanny world is going to claim your back end is going to try and pass you when you stop but don't listen to them, when you are pulling out and the bus load of nuns is barreling down on you you're going to want to be able to get out of the way.
 

ID Bronco

Registered User
Location
Idaho Falls, ID
I have run snow tires only on the front many times in Idaho Winters. I don't think you have to be a self proclaimed awesome driver to pull this off. I was pissed when shops wouldn't put them on that way for me.

I found putting the car in neutral allows you to keep the back end in check while stopping. (easy with a standard, and only slightly harder with an auto)

Live on the edge!
 

Pike2350

Registered User
Location
Salt Lake City
FWD would have me put them on the front. I look at snow tires more as traction to get moving...and since that's where the spinning would happen that's where I'd put them.

I guess I could see the arguement for stopping ad having them in the rear...but unless they are studded I don't think average snow tires would help....and I'd rather have the ability to get moving.
 

reddman

Fabber
Location
SL,UT
ID Bronco Yeah I was wary of touting driving abilities, which is why I talked about the driver in a hypothetical way. In no way am I claiming to be a badass, just highly competent at winter driving. I wanted to convey that I am not asking what anyone thinks about what to do about the car their teenager, wife, elderly father etc. drives, but what a person who can comfortably throw a vehicle around thinks about the matter.

Looks to be a bit of a hassle. Tire shops won't mount them that way, so I guess I will go in to get my rears replaced with all-seasons (I am due for new rubber all around), and then after than go home and pull the fronts and run them in with my truck. I'm glad to hear some opinions that see it similarly to how I do.
 

I Lean

Mbryson's hairdresser
Supporting Vendor
Location
Utah
I was able to have Discount mount 2 new tires on the front of my Saturn a few years ago. They did so only after making sure I knew the "mistake" I was making. :)
 

reddman

Fabber
Location
SL,UT
Front. I didn't know that was even a debate
Yeah I was blown away when discount told me they wouldn't even mount them like that. I requested the snow tires up front and the dude went on to tell me about their liability policy, and that I would have to go home and swap them around myself if I wanted snow tires up front. I hadn't realized that "common wisdom" was firmly bassackwards, no exceptions. Glad to see I'm not crazy! (not entirely)
 

reddman

Fabber
Location
SL,UT
The only issue I see is when you've got engine compression braking (very little in an auto) and more traction in front. Or under extreme braking if the fronts grip and rears slide you could spin but you've got ABS sooo throw them in front and let those hybrid ponies run wild.
As always, you are making good sense my man. With a 1.3L engine and a terrible CVT tranny, my little $#!+box has about zero compression braking ability. :rofl: :crying:

The traction problem I wage war with is when flirting with the edge of traction up front when accelerating in the snow. Dodging those dang one-tire-fires in the moment the torque from the electric motor hits.
 

Jinx

when in doubt, upgrade!
Location
So Jordan, Utah
IF, and I mean that's a big IF, the only reason is merely traction then you could put them on the front. But new tires should be put on the rear as that's where they keep the car straight on wet or slick roads.
I agree with the traction situation, but I have also been in a situation where the front tires had traction and the backs didn't. I found myself in a mild braking situation on a slick road where the rear end wanted to chase the front and absolutely no chance of "catching" it...

Rear traction tends to help the car staying straight like Z mentions...
 
I grew up in the Canadian Rockies were winter last 6 to 8 months long white out and black ice were things you just dealt with on a regular bases. I never owned a set of winter tires nor did any of my friends or family.

I was half way through college before I bought 2 blizzak snow tires and ran them on the front of my 99 Saturn SL FWD 5 speed. That car weighed nothing (Plastic body panels, etc) and could drive through foot deep snow banks all day and never get stuck. However, the ass end was so light that it would float on top of heavy/ slushy snow which no snow tire is going to help.

IMO, if your short on cash like I was in college, run them on the front vs the rear.
 

Hickey

Rusty Girdle
Supporting Member
I think the whole mindset of running the snow tires on the rear is retarded. You need good tread on the rear of a FWD car, but you want even better tread on the front.

Studded snow tires on the front. Something with tread on the rear. That's my vote.

If the rear tires are low tread though, you're gonna be in for some sketchy stops.
 

jeeper

Currently without Jeep
Location
So Jo, Ut
According to the charts in the tire stores the better tires go on the rear to prevent it from drifting out around corners on snow and ice. However in my opinion, the front does 70% of your braking, And is warranted to have the better traction. If you were going around the corner fast enough in the snow for your back end to drift out, You were also likely going fast enough that your front tires will slide. I can also tell you that I prefer traction in my steering wheels not my straight wheels. I have never slid through a corner wishing that I could keep going straight. Every time I have ever slid it has been wishing my front would get traction and change direction.
I have thousands of hours of driving in the snow in a plow. Front end traction was by far the worst issue.
 
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