What can I do to help my rear-wheel drive Camaro handle better in the snow?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 1997

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1994 Camaro Z-28 with just about every option except for the automatic transmission. It is really hot, and the babes really dig it -- especially those really wide Z-rated tires. I actually go out on dates now! The problem is, I no longer have my Blazer. The Camaro is now my only car, and it's terrible in the snow. I'm wondering if whether different tires, chains or several sandbags will get me through the winter.--Frank

RAY: They can't hurt, Frank. This car is absolutely horrendous in the snow, isn't it? It's rear-wheel drive with fat tires, too much power and a rear end that weighs almost nothing. And that combination is what makes it go absolutely nowhere in the snow.

TOM: You can't do anything about the rear-wheel-drive layout. But you can improve the tires. Flat, wide tires may attract the babes, Frank, but they don't dig into the snow; they float on top of it, kind of like snow shoes. So I'd suggest four of the best snow tires you can afford. They won't look quite as Cro-Magnon, but I'd forget about looks, because you need all the help you can get.

RAY: Chains are not an every-day option. If you drive around with chains on all the time, those babes you pick up are going to have constant headaches from all that clanking and thumping. But you can keep a set of chains in the trunk just for emergencies.

TOM: One thing you CAN control to some extent is the amount of power that goes to the rear wheels. Because this engine is powerful and the car is so light, it's very easy to make the wheels spin when you start. But if you squeeze the accelerator very gently, and start in second gear in the snow, you should get better traction, because the less torque the wheels are getting, the more likely they are to grip onto something.

RAY: Finally, there's the weight issue. You can increase the weight in the back end by adding sand bags, but you have to be careful. If you put too much weight behind the rear wheels, you'll -- in effect -- take weight OFF the front wheels, and then you could have trouble steering and stopping. So two or three bags may help some, but I'd be careful with that approach.

TOM: What you really want is weight right in front of the rear wheels, between the two axles. I've got it, Frank. You need to go out with "big-boned" babes!

RAY: Or better yet, have the babes you go out with bring along their "big-boned" cousins and put the cousins in the back seat during the date. The date will cost you a little more, but at least you won't get stuck in the snow.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One