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A management question. I've gotten conflicting opinions, so I'm asking you. Must get to work in winter this year. Keeping my job depends on it. I only have rwd ford ranger 4-cylinder automatic, 2008. I can hardly afford to upgrade to better vehicle right now. Will very good studded winter tires and weight in the bed help ENOUGH to get to work and back on regularly plowed roads, or on a fresh snow that hasn't been plowed yet? Complication - I live just outside of town in rural area with an elevation rise of about 300 feet over 5 miles, so there are some fairly big hills on the road. This is why I am concerned. There is one alternative route that is not so steep that takes a much longer way around, so that might be the better way into town on bad road days. I have to decide if it isn't safe enough and if it will be necessary to get another winter driving car, which will be very difficult financially for me. It would be so helpful if I could make my present vehicle work, but of course, I don't want to end up in a ditch. I am familiar with driving on snowy roads, but don't look forward to driving on them after dark when it is very, very cold out. Also, in addition to putting weight in the back, would it help to put dummy weight in the passenger seat area? I weight about 200 pounds. The engine being only 4 cylinder I wonder if the front end being lighter contributes to giving this vehicle its reputation for really bad traction in bad road conditions. Thank you. Sorry so wordy. I know the best answer is to get another vehicle. But I'm just trying to figure out the odds of making the one I have work safely and dependably enough.

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Jessica Howe, Automotive Expert & Coach at


Thank you for writing in and taking the time to be a prepared and safe motorist. A lot of what you are asking about comes down to your driving abilities and how comfortable you are driving in the snow. However, there are many circumstances that are outside of your control including extreme weather and the topography. You already know what you need to do to maximize your safety. Weight on the floorboard of the passenger side, weight in the bed directly over the wheels, and slow speeds are your friend. Studded tires are also likely a requirement during certain times of the year if you live in a harsh winter state.

Your odds are good of making this truck work for you a majority of the time if you are smart about how you drive, take your time, keep your speed down, and know when to turn back. While you will likely be able to handle a most of the travel conditions, there are limits you do not want to push in a RWD truck on an iced over hill. Know those limits and respect those limits, because after all your job means nothing if you do not have your life. Also keep in mind that you are not only a danger to yourself, but to other motorists as well if you lose control on a hill. Even in a 4WD or an AWD, certain conditions are not meant to be driven in. Good luck!

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