You Might Be Able to Leave Those Sandbags in the Garage

A stock photo illustration of a vehicle driving through snow.

Should Extra Weight Be Added to Cars?

Modern technology has changed the way we drive in the winter. Snow tires are better, traction control systems are smarter, and even something as ubiquitous as front-wheel drive has been nothing short of a total game-changer. With all of these incredible advancements in play, people are still driving around with sandbags in their trunks. So, should extra weight be added to vehicles in the winter? For the most part, that is no longer necessary. However, as with a lot of things in the automotive industry, there are exceptions. Let’s take a look at some important and helpful information.

READ MORE: How Long Do Winter Tires Last?

Why is Extra Weight in Vehicles Unnecessary?

The practice of adding additional weight to a vehicle during the winter started in the days of heavy vehicles that used rear-wheel drive. Having a vehicle’s center of gravity so far ahead of the drive wheels made for unstable conditions on slippery roads. People increased the traction of rear tires by putting extra weight in their trunks, which increased the pressure on the rear tires.

Now that front- and all-wheel drive systems are available, this practice is unnecessary. In models with front-wheel drive, the engine provides this necessary weight over the drive wheels, which has gone a long way toward improving stability on icy or snow-covered roads. All-wheel drive keeps all four wheels turning, and most AWD systems can even provide additional rotational torque to slipping wheels, ensuring positive traction is maintained. 

Do Pickup Trucks Need Sandbags?

There is an exception to every rule, and pickup trucks are that for us. A lot of modern pickup trucks come with on-the-fly four-wheel-drive systems, so additional weight may not be necessary. But, older models that are rear-wheel-drive could possibly benefit from a few sandbags in the back. While trucks are certainly heavier than other vehicle platforms for the most part, their weight distribution is still an issue. An empty cargo bed doesn’t provide a lot of weight to provide additional grip for the rear tires. However, having four- or all-wheel drive on a pickup truck largely solves this issue.

If you choose to add some additional weight to a pickup truck, it doesn’t require a lot. Most trucks will do well with between 100 and 140 kg of additional weight. 

All of this advice is predicated on having a good set of winter tires on your vehicle, regardless of what type it is. Winter tires are just better at providing traction in winter driving conditions than all-season tires. If you have questions about winter tires or anything related to the maintenance of your vehicle, make an appointment with the Davis Chevrolet Service Department, today.