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OT Looking for more traction - adding weight

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  • OT Looking for more traction - adding weight

    Ok, based on what I remember about physics, the greater weight you have over a set of tires - the greater the frictional force: weight x coefficient of friction = frictional force.

    However, the greater the weight, the harder it will be to accelerate. I mean that it terms of a "change in speed" or "change in direction".

    So, given a fixed coefficient of friction (keeping the same tires on the wife's car). How would you know when to add bags of water-softener salt to the trunk, and when to stop.

    Intuitively, there has to be a "crossover point" beyond which the added weight hurts rather than helps, in terms of stopping and cornering.

    I'm sure this stuff has already been worked out before, I'm just not familiar with who or where.

    Any thoughts?

  • #2
    One person in the back seat can make a noticeable difference. I'd say one to two hundred pounds in the trunk would be about right. Two hundred might be on the high side of optimum.

    Depends what it is also. If it's bricks, it's pretty useless for anything else. If much of it is sand, chains, maybe a spare battery that is hooked up parallel with the main battery, shovels, some spare antifreeze and windshield washer fluid, a small sealed pail of de-icing salt, flares, and an easy-find flashlight-
    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-


    • #3
      As in anything there's no free lunch.
      It's a trade off between traction and agility.

      I've recently retired after forty years of driving truck under some of the most inhospitable road and weather conditions you can think of and given a choice I will take a heavily loaded truck and trailer any day vs. a light one if I have to drive through a snow storm. Much better traction and stability, especially when going through deep snow and or slush. But once the weather clears the light unit is much easier to handle, almost like driving a pickup in comparison.

      Ultimately you should base the decision of how much weight to add on the cars ability to carry the extra weight, the type of weather you'll being driving in most of the time, and the drivers ability to be able to compensate for the decreased agility of the car.
      A set of top notch winter tires, (Blizzaks come to mind) will also make a huge difference.

      Also if one has the option, sometimes it's just wiser to stay home. It's amazing how much difference a day makes. The difference between heaven and hell come to mind.
      Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
      Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

      Location: British Columbia


      • #4
        What darryl said plus a floor jack and a way to keep it from wandering about.

        Hopefully you've already covered it, but I'll ask just in case. How are the shocks on the car? That will make a big difference too.


        • #5
          The car is a very low mileage 2008 Nissan Versa. I'm thinking the tires need to be swapped out (only 27k miles) for something that is more "all weather". We used to have a couple of Miata's, and we used Bridgestone Blizzaks on them - HUGE difference! On the Miata, we had steel wheels with the snow tires, and I just swapped them out. I don't think I want to go that route with this car; I'm thinking more along the lines of some good "all weather" tires. I'm sure the OEM tires were selected for gas mileage and cost rather than any kind of performance parameters. For the immediate future, I'm thinking of throwing (3) 40lb bags of water softener salt in the trunk (since we need some anyway) and see how it performs.

          I used to have a 1995 F-350 dually that was absolutely worthless on snow, unless you had a 1,000lbs or so in the back. I'm sure I had around 3,000lbs in it on a return trip from Connecticut one time (Hardinge lathe, surface grinder, IR 80gal air compressor, and a few other goodies).


          • #6
            Throw 600lbs in the trunk and add 5 or 10 lbs of rear tire pressure to gain back the change in rolling resistance.

            Careful though, adding weight behind the front to rear center of gravity tends to make the ass end act like a pendulum. Takes a bit to get it started, but once it starts going sideways there's no stopping it.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Jim Caudill
              The car is a very low mileage 2008 Nissan Versa.

              Wait... That's a FWD car. If you add weight in the trunk that is behind the axle, you will take weight off the front wheels. When front wheels cars want to drag race (ultimate oxymoron) they take weight off the back of the car. I think the only handling benefit to adding weight to the trunk is less mid turn and exit understeer.

              In my FWD econobox, ummm, I mean "sports coupe", I have relocated the battery into the trunk, and now the car handles like a Porsche!


              • #8
                Beanbag, I think you are absolutely correct. Putting weight behind the rear axle would tend to make the front "lighter". Oh well, I guess the tires are going to have to be the immediate solution, as opposed to the "delayed solution".


                • #9
                  The greatest benefit to traction is the reduction of the weight of the foot on the accelerator!


                  • #10
                    You haven't positively identified what problem you're trying to solve, or why you want more traction on the driving wheels, or under what conditions. If, however, you have a front wheel drive vehicle, I would leave it alone. Your traction and control on snow is already very good, and adding unnecessary weight anywhere to the car is not likely to improve anything, and may adversely affect braking , fuel consumption, and handling. Some tires are better than others in slippery winter conditions or on wet roads, and a publication like Consumer Reports is a good source for comparative tire information. If, however, you have a rear wheel drive pickup truck and need better winter traction, have your fat, big mouthed mother-in-law sit in the back of the bed. (Oh, I'm sorry; that was MY mother-in-law. )


                    • #11
                      Adding weight doesn't help on ice anyway. Tires are THE solution, not a temporary "make do".
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                      • #12
                        Get a trunk monkey.



                        • #13
                          Weight on the driving wheels is certainly important in mud, snow, and packed snow. When it turns to glare ice, however, you need studded tires, or you may not even move an inch. I use my farm tractor for plowing snow in the winter, but ice is a problem. I put studs in my 12.4 x 28 inch Ferguson TO-35 tractor tires by installing about 50 sheetmetal screws in the tire lugs, per tire. The screws had a sharp raised hex, and did wonders for my traction on ice. Over about 5 years time, several of the screws disappeared and had to be replaced, but they never did any damage to the tires. Studs on highway tires are another matter, since they are illegal in many places.


                          • #14
                            In conditions where you can't even stand up then you need claw chains like I have for my Land Rover. Sometimes this is how our driveway looks.

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                            • #15
                              personly from experence as well as what have seen over the years adding weight is a joke, and its aslo more dangerouse as the added weight when you do spin out excellerates your spin more which in turn also causes more damage, if a trasport weighin up over 80,000 pounds can still spin out on ice or snow and then how the hell do you expect to solve this in a car, sorry but physics is a joke on this one , and totaly incorrect you might gain a tiny bit of traction but the end result is the same you can still lose control and when you do the affects are muiltiplyed many times worse then not having the extra weight, same as lowering tire pressure it auctuly is a false to, lowering below reguall tire pressure cause the tires centre to buckle under hence losing traction not to mention the damage and premature ware you cause to your car/truck/suv as you go over bumps..