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Curious how a TJ is in the snow?

Bird

TJ Enthusiast
Supporting Member
Jan 6, 2017
962
VA, United States
Coming up on a year of ownership of my TJ and was just curious what experienced owners have to say about our TJ'S in the snow.
Last winter i never touched a snow shovel, no snow but historically we have major storms in the east.
More specific :
How would a Rubicon on new 33's compare to other Suv's like a Subaru or 4WD pickups in snow ?
 

Kiwi TJ

I don't suffer from insanity I enjoy every minute
Supporting Member
Ride of the Month Winner
May 3, 2016
4,039
Auckland New Zealand
Sign me up...I'd love to have a play in the snow but its a long haul for me.:(
I'm sure @bobthetj03 would like to get in on this thread too.
 

Chris

Administrator
Staff Member
Sep 28, 2015
37,147
Salem, Oregon
They do exceptionally well in the snow, but they'll do even better if you are:

a) a good driver in the snow
b) have the right tires (I'm sorry, but Mud Terrain tires SUCK in the snow, period. I run All Terrain tires, and while they aren't a dedicated snow tire, they do very, very well in the snow.)
c) know when and how to brake in the snow

So there you have it. Some people are just idiots in general though. I see videos online of morons in their Jeeps flying down a snowy road at 50 mph laughing at all the other cars going slow and getting stuck. I don't care how good your 4WD is or what you have done to your rig, you don't drive like a jackass in the snow, period.
 

billiebob

TJ Addict
Supporting Member
Oct 31, 2015
3,724
Kootenays, BC, Canada
How would a Rubicon on new 33's compare to other Suv's like a Subaru
On snow with 33s.... A Subaru will blow the doors off a TJ. And nothing a Rubi has will help. Worst thing you could do for driving around on a snowy road would be use the lockers. BUT any TJ with WINTER tires will likely stay pretty close a Subaru with WINTER tires.

If you are wheeling off road, and you chain up that Rubi to run across a field... very few other vehicles will keep up. But I assume you are talking about daily winter driving. For that 33s will not be an advantage. Especially if they are MudTerrains.

Snow and ice traction is all about eliminating wheel spin. Once you start to slide.... yer gonna lose. And Wranglers have a locked transfer case so as soon as you turn from straight, the rear end is going to want to pass the front end. A Subaru has 3 differentials plus a bunch of computers to keep the wheels from spinning or sliding.

And winter tire technology is all about packing snow into all those fine tread sipes. Just like making a snowball the snow in the sipes packs against the snow on the ground. That is where winter tires get such great traction from.... And as soon as you spin out.... you lose that advantage.
 
Last edited:

Chris

Administrator
Staff Member
Sep 28, 2015
37,147
Salem, Oregon
On snow with 33s.... A Subaru will blow the doors off a TJ. And nothing a Rubi has will help. Worst thing you could do for driving around on a snowy road would be use the lockers. BUT any TJ with WINTER tires will likely stay pretty close a Subaru with WINTER tires.

If you are wheeling off road, and you chain up that Rubi to run across a field... very few other vehicles will keep up. But I assume you are talking about daily winter driving. For that 33s will not be an advantage. Especially if they are MudTerrains.
No one believes me when I tell them how well our 2015 Subaru Outback does in the snow. Now granted these are people who have never owned a Subaru, but I wish they knew. That Outback is truly phenomenal in the snowy weather, which is one of the reasons we bought it.
 

Jeepaholic

TJ Enthusiast
No one believes me when I tell them how well our 2015 Subaru Outback does in the snow. Now granted these are people who have never owned a Subaru, but I wish they knew. That Outback is truly phenomenal in the snowy weather, which is one of the reasons we bought it.
My brother lives in sunny valley, OR. mt sexton pass on I5 gets nasty, and he lives 10 miles up a real crappy dirt road. I finally convinced him to get an outback wagon. It gets up and down his road in the snow that his suburban 4x4 on 33s and a couple other 4we he has gets stuck, he now wonders why he didn't listen to me years ago.

To the op though, the wrangler does good in snow, especially with the right tires/driver, and correct speed for the conditions.
 

RedTJ

TJ Enthusiast
Dec 21, 2016
100
Suffolk, VA, United States
Even with a foot of snow, I don't have to shovel my driveway and that's with cheap Firestone generic tires. But, I have found I need to be as careful driving my Jeep in snow as I am in any other vehicle.
 

Chris

Administrator
Staff Member
Sep 28, 2015
37,147
Salem, Oregon
My brother lives in sunny valley, OR. mt sexton pass on I5 gets nasty, and he lives 10 miles up a real crappy dirt road. I finally convinced him to get an outback wagon. It gets up and down his road in the snow that his suburban 4x4 on 33s and a couple other 4we he has gets stuck, he now wonders why he didn't listen to me years ago.

To the op though, the wrangler does good in snow, especially with the right tires/driver, and correct speed for the conditions.
Yep. Our TJ does exceptionally well in the snow, but it can't compare to our Outback in the snow. The Outback excels in the snow, no question about it. On the new Outbacks such as out 2015, they've added a pretty good amount of ground clearance too for being a passenger vehicle.
 

billiebob

TJ Addict
Supporting Member
Oct 31, 2015
3,724
Kootenays, BC, Canada
We have a Legacy, 3.6R. Very little ground clearance but a rocket on snow. Left home early, before the roads were plowed. The under carriage was dragging thru the snow. Pulled onto a main road, still 5" of fresh snow. No tracks yet. I floored it. 2 short blocks later I was doing 80mph !! I rarely drive that car anymore, way too fast, too much fun, too many places to get tickets, expensive tickets.
 

bobthetj03

vibrajeep
Supporting Member
Ride of the Month Winner
Feb 3, 2017
8,658
NorCal
Sign me up...I'd love to have a play in the snow but its a long haul for me.:(
I'm sure @bobthetj03 would like to get in on this thread too.
I typically steer clear of snow driving cause my rig isn't setup for it, but once a year we do our annual Xmas tree run in our local National Forest. The KM2's aren't totally useless in the snow, but definitely not ideal. Haven't needed a tug yet. No lockers, LSD rear takes some finesse.
20151205_152724.jpg

20151205_150710.jpg
 

derekmac

TJ Addict
Feb 10, 2016
1,927
NS, Canada
Short wheelbase vehicles are not nearly as forgiving as "regular sized" 4x4's or AWD's. Once the ass end comes out, it can be hard to get it back in line. If you're used to driving a RWD vehicle in the snow, there will be a bit of a learning curve to it.

Mud tires are great in loose snow, but suck on hard packed snow, and really suck on ice.
 

JWjeepSask

TJ Enthusiast
Dec 14, 2016
170
Canada
As a Canadian who lives in one of coldest most harsh regions for winter, my TJ is amazing. I'm only running 29s all terrain tires and there amazing I've had it in 2 feet of packed snow and it crawls like a dream. Ice is the real enemy, just as @billiebob said, once your sideways you rarely make it out. Just use common sense and you'll be fine.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Mike_H

Rust Belt Heavyweight
Supporting Member
Feb 28, 2017
4,279
Grand Rapids, MI, United States
It should be fine, as long as you're aware of the limitation of a short wheelbase stepping out on you...Mud tires are going to stink, as are tires that are wide (for normal driving). You put proper snow tires on it, and I think there would be very few places you couldn't get though.

I have an audi q5 on all seasons that is absolutely amazing in the winter. It has plenty of ground clearance, the Quattro system is about as good as it gets from an AWD perspective, and its not overpowered. Its seriously better than anything else I've ever driven in the winter, including a couple subarus (though its splitting hairs). My daily is an F150 FX4 with an e-locker in the rear. Pretty capable as well, but the weight distribution is less than ideal.
 
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Sunder

TJ Enthusiast
Feb 8, 2016
145
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
A Subaru is crazy good in the snow. Seriously. Definitely better than a TJ for city/highway driving. (safer/stability/traction/etc)
Add the fact that true winter tires are easily available in sizes for a Subaru but not exactly made for what we use on our TJ's...don't make any bets against someone driving a Subaru with winter tires. Winter tires are not just the different tread, but also the type of rubber used. All-terrain tires with the "winter/snow" snowflake rating thing are good...but definitely in a league below true winter tires when in comes to packed snow traction.

Granted, I think the deeper the snow, the better the TJ gets due to the height we have. So we are better in the extremes, but not necessarily for 95% of the time. (We'll be awesome when you get 3 feet of snow dumped on you in one day, but most roads will most likely be plowed the next day).
I think the TJ will be better offroad, but not quite as good within the city in winter.
And if we wind up in a ditch, we have a better chance of getting out.

Now having said that, I've lived in snowy conditions all my life (Manitoba...up in Canada).
I'd say a TJ is great for winter, and I love mine.
I drive a TJ with 33" Duratrac tires. Most of those years I had open diffs. It does fine when in 4x4 in the city.
(I had a worn our rear factory LSD and also had a lunchbox locker up front. Note - the warnings about lunchbox lockers up front are very real when on ice. Granted in the 20 years of driving my Jeep, I only had 1 "holy crap" moment with the front auto locker engaging and spinning me around on a black ice highway going 15km/h...which is a statistically low occurance, but enough to "wake me up" to never wanting to do that again, ever).
(So don't engage your locker in the city, but your rear LSD will help).

I currently have a recently installed TrueTrac in the rear, and am waiting to have a TrueTrac installed in the front. That differential is theoretically (but arguably) the best for Jeeps on snow, and may put me close to a Subaru on the street, and probably better with deeper snow.
I don't have any real-world experience with it yet, so I'll soon find out (as we have snow here now).
I *think* with those diff's, Duratrac tires and tummy tuck, I'll do better than most 4x4's in snow.
At least I should do better than I did in previous year, and I was very happy with how the Jeep performed with open-diffs in winter.

Weaknesses for TJ's in winter/snow:
- short wheelbase (noticable on higher speeds on highway)
- colder (even with a hardtop - every car will be more comfortably warmer)
- no "true" winter tires. (our winter-rated all-seasons are more than "good enough" when in 4x4, but still inferior in the city. We may do better with our knobbier tires in deeper loose snow however...and 4x4 trucks are in same situation as us)
- no built-in heated seats, lol

Strengths for TJ's in winter/snow:
- good in deep snow
- while we may have "less control" driving on the streets, we also have less chance of getting stuck
- better front/back weight balance than many 4x4 trucks...and we never get asked to help when friends are moving furniture
- when they temporarily block off my street with 3ft piles of snow they're plowing...I act like a bratty kid and just drive over/through it, laughing the whole time. I wouldn't do that with a Subaru.
 
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