Is a front-wheel-drive car on winter tyres better than a 4WD car on summer tyres?

You write that a FWD car on winter tyres is better than a 4WD car on summer tyres. Clearly you have little experience of driving in the snow and ice and it’s flat where you live. In Devon there are lanes that never get cleared or gritted by local authorities.

Asked on 2 November 2012 by TP, Barnsaple

Answered by Honest John
I began driving in Northumberland, where winters used to last from October to April and snow from November to March. I drove all sorts of cars in deep snow, including a 1949 Rover P3. Basically I am repeating extremely well known advice from Germany, Austria and Italy. Worst: RWD on summers. Next worst: FWD on summers. Next worst: AWD on summers (though, of course, depends on level of sophistication of the AWD system). Better: RWD on full winters. Better still: FWD on full winters. Best of the lot: AWD on full winters. Even better: AWD with studded winters or with chains.

Not only that, at less than 8 degrees centigrade, any car on cold weather tyres stops in about half the distance of one on summer tyres, whether 4WD or not.
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