Can two snow tires do the job of four?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 01, 1996

Dear Tom and Ray:

I drive a '93 Infiniti G20 and experience the same problem with snow that was described several months ago by the owner of a blue Saturn (i.e. the car slides all over the place in the snow). You suggested four good snow tires. My husband insists I need snow tires only on the front wheels because they do the driving. Is that true?

TOM: Oh, Pam. You should never listen to your husband when it comes to cars. If you don't believe me, ask my wife!

RAY: It's true that your "starting traction" comes from the front wheels in this car, since the G20 is front wheel drive. But starting traction isn't the only kind of traction you need.

TOM: "Stopping traction" would also be useful, wouldn't it? As would "turning traction." And both of those involve the front AND rear wheels.

RAY: So while snow tires on the two driven wheels will help you get started in the snow, and may keep you from getting "stuck" someplace, we strongly recommend four snow tires if you have to drive in seriously snowy conditions. Having four, good quality snow tires will improve your stopping and turning abilities, both of which we find very useful.

TOM: And as I always say, if you can stop and turn well in the snow, Pam, you're less likely to end up in traction (ha ha!).

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