Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Jeep Snow Driving Tips

Mastering the Art of Snow Wheeling

Jeep Momma selfie in front of Jeep

(Updated November 2023) Growing up in the Midwest, I became intimately familiar with harsh and lengthy winters. Navigating snowy roads was a way of life. Over the years, I honed my skills, and dealing with snow-covered terrain became almost second nature. I learned how my vehicle reacted in the snow, and my instincts took over.

However, for those new to snow wheeling, the lack of experience in the snow can quickly turn a minor mistake into a full-blown disaster. It's essential to be prepared and knowledgeable before embarking on snow-covered off-road journeys.

Winter Snow Wheeling Tips


Enhancing Traction on Snowy Terrain

Navigating your Jeep through snowy terrain with the 4-high and 4-low settings can greatly enhance traction and stability. In snowy conditions, engaging 4-high is ideal for moderate snow depths, providing better grip without the need for intense torque. This setting distributes power to all four wheels, aiding in maintaining control. 

It is recommended to use 4-high at speeds below 55 mph. Beyond this speed, it's advisable to switch back to 2-wheel drive for regular driving conditions. Driving at high speeds in 4-high can lead to increased stress on the drivetrain, potentially causing excessive wear and reduced fuel efficiency.

Tackling Deeper Snow and Off-Road Challenges

When faced with deeper snow or challenging off-road scenarios, 4-low becomes advantageous. It multiplies engine torque for increased wheel power, enabling the Jeep to crawl through tougher conditions. Remember to drive at a safe, controlled speed to avoid skidding or sliding. 

Knowing When to Switch Back to 2WD

However, it's essential to know when not to use these settings, such as on dry or paved roads, as the increased traction can strain the drivetrain and cause damage. Switch back to 2-wheel drive for regular driving conditions to ensure optimal performance and longevity of your Jeep's components.

Be Prepared

Jeep Momma with a shovel and her Jeep.

Dress for the weather and bring along your recovery gear. Always carry a shovel. The shovel can dig out your tires, axles, and frame when the snow compacts and prevents your Jeep from moving. 

Tire tracks in snow.

Learning to read the snow

One of the most important techniques in snow wheeling. There are many different types of snow. Soft wet snow is different then hard cold snow. There’s crusty snow, powdery snow, slushy snow, and all this snow can be in layers. Some of the snow will pack and clog your tires and some you can just easily plow through. Understanding the layers and the dynamics of the snow helps you to make smart decisions while wheeling. 

Jeep hood shot wheeling in the snow. 

Throttle Modulation and Brake Control 

Knowing when to give it gas and when to take it slowly requires practice and experience.  Practice while on a flat easy part of the trail to see how the snow and your Jeep react to giving it gas then use a little gas pedal finesse and test how your Jeep reacts. The brakes are not your friend in the snow. 

Spinning your wheels just digs a hole in the snow making your rig sink deeper. The spinning also melts the top layer of snow, then the water re-freezes and turns to ice. You may need to back up and try different lines. Watch out for icy spots, and don't slam on your brake, you need to pump your brakes. Unless you have ABS. If you start to slide turn into the slide.  

Jeep on a snowy mountain road. 

Wheeling through the snow can be an exhilarating experience, especially when you're familiar with an easy trail you've driven countless times without snow. The snow adds an extra layer of challenge to these trails, transforming a once mild route into a demanding adventure. There are also different types of snow that take experience to understand how to maneuver your vehicle through it. However, throwing in mountain trails with ledges and trees is a whole other level. 

Tips When Snow Wheeling in the Mountains 

Jeep Momma selfie with Jeeps. 

Don’t wheel on the snowy mountain trails alone. It is very easy to get your vehicle stuck in the snow. If you get stuck, which the chances are high when you wheel in the snow, you will want to have the option of another vehicle to help you out.

Know your limits and your experience. Just like I did on Heart Attack Hill. I know my Jeep is capable, I know and I have a lot of experience driving in the snow. However, I am not that experienced in the snow on rocky inclines up a mountain trail. I decided to get a little more snow trail driving under my belt first. My Jeep is my daily driver, so I opted for caution. Do what’s best for you and your vehicle. Turns out the bypass was just as challenging.

Snow Wheeling 👉 Watch Here

Jeep hood shot on snowy mountain road. 

Essential Tips for Snowy Driving Conditions

Maintain Proper Tire Pressure

Ensure that your tires are properly inflated, as this can significantly affect traction. In colder temperatures, tire pressure tends to drop, so check and adjust accordingly.

Use Snow Tires

Consider investing in dedicated snow tires. They are designed for cold weather and snowy conditions, providing better grip and traction than all-season tires.

Increase Following Distance

Snowy roads can be unpredictable. Increase your following distance to allow for longer braking distances and to account for potential slippery spots.

Drive Smoothly

Avoid abrupt acceleration, deceleration, and sharp turns. Smooth, gradual movements help maintain control on slippery surfaces.

Brake Gently

Apply brakes gently to avoid skidding. If your Jeep is equipped with ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), let it do its job—maintain firm, continuous pressure on the brake pedal.

Know Your Jeep's Features

Familiarize yourself with your Jeep's specific off-road features, such as traction control and stability control. Understanding how these systems work can help you navigate challenging conditions more effectively.

Carry Essential Supplies

Pack an emergency kit with items like a blanket, flashlight, extra clothing, and non-perishable snacks. In snowy conditions, it's wise to be prepared for unexpected delays.

Emergency Gear 👉 Read More

Practice in an Open Area

If you're new to driving in the snow or off-road conditions, find an open, safe area to practice. Get a feel for how your Jeep responds to different situations before facing more challenging terrain.

Clear Snow From Your Vehicle

Before driving, remove all snow and ice from your Jeep, including the roof and hood. This ensures visibility and prevents hazards to other drivers.

Know When to Stop

If the conditions become too hazardous, it's okay to stop and wait for conditions to improve. Avoid unnecessary risks and prioritize safety.


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