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Old 01-26-2021, 06:03 PM   #1
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Pulling 5th wheel in Winter?

Does anyone pull their 5th wheel in the winter?
We took a 2 week trip late in November to the Grand Canyon, Zion and Arches national parks. Though it was below freezing most nights, the roads were dry and the trip was amazing.... right up until we ran into some snow coming back to Texas in southern Colorado. I have a 37' Eagle that I tow with my 2wd diesel Ram 2500 and it has been an excellent tow vehicle. However, this was my first encounter with snowy conditions and I was surprised at how badly it handled in only an inch of snow on flat roads. It was all I could do to keep the rig on the road. We were fortunate to have just passed a campground where we holed up for a couple nights until the snow melted.
My question is this - if I had 4wd, would it make a big difference or am I being naive?
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Old 01-26-2021, 06:18 PM   #2
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Well
We are from SW Ontario... Have made a few trips south in January
Our F250 screw sb diesel 4x4 hauling similar 5th wheel
Not had an issue but we are retired.. We watch weather. Leaving a day or two early or later doesn't matter to us.
That said never had an issue yet on the roads. Loose dirt or packed sand in a campgrd drop in 4x4. Never spin a wheel... I've drove 2wd trucks in the snow and 4x4 in the snow.. For the money difference I will always have a 4x4
I have rolled down the wet pavement in 4x4. We just slow down stay under recommended speed for 4x4 engagement

Just my 1/2 cent of retired farm kid experience
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Old 01-26-2021, 06:46 PM   #3
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I grew up in the Midwest and am comfortable driving in snow. I thought that having 2200 lbs of weight on my rear wheels would keep me tracking despite the 2wd. Wrong!
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Old 01-26-2021, 07:19 PM   #4
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I haven't pulled a 5th in the snow, but I have pulled 24' inline, enclosed snowmobile trailers in the snow. Just over 8' tall and 27' overall weighing around 3500# empty and now stack four 600# sleds in it. Yes, it doesnt weigh as much as a 5th, but... I've towed that trailer in every condition imaginable for hundreds of miles. 4 wheel drive makes all the difference in the world!! From the smallest amount of snow to pushing it over the hood, 4wd is a must. A couple things people.dont realize about towing in the snow is in 4wd you can take off easily, but stopping is another issue. Just because you have 4wd doesnt mean you can stop any better. You can if you downshift and use the brakes LIGHTLY. If you start to slide during a steer in 4wd, just add a little throttle. Itll pull you right thru it.
I used to laugh at these guys I'd see on the road pulling trailers with these big lifted trucks with some monster size tires, these guys are sliding all over the place and cant figure out why. My truck and trailer had piizza cutter tires on it. Narrow tires cut thru the snow and get traction, wide tires are like snowshoes and surf around on top of the snow.
Regardless of you have a 2wd or a 4wd, you get traction on the snow, not on the ice. Occasionally test out the road surface with your brakes. You can be rolling down the road in the same tracks everyone else is driving, snow on the lane edges and snow in the middle of the lane. Next thing you know someone in front hits the brakes and little do you know your driving on black ice. You ain't stopping on black ice. Dive to the right a little and get on that snow. Left side tires on the mid lane snow and the right side tires are on the edge of the lane/road. You will be able to stop much better. Again, dont get on the brakes hard otherwise the ABS will kick in.
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Old 01-26-2021, 07:22 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by dcdutton View Post
Does anyone pull their 5th wheel in the winter?
We took a 2 week trip late in November to the Grand Canyon, Zion and Arches national parks. Though it was below freezing most nights, the roads were dry and the trip was amazing.... right up until we ran into some snow coming back to Texas in southern Colorado. I have a 37' Eagle that I tow with my 2wd diesel Ram 2500 and it has been an excellent tow vehicle. However, this was my first encounter with snowy conditions and I was surprised at how badly it handled in only an inch of snow on flat roads. It was all I could do to keep the rig on the road. We were fortunate to have just passed a campground where we holed up for a couple nights until the snow melted.
My question is this - if I had 4wd, would it make a big difference or am I being naive?

I lived the first thirty years of my life in Texas, and the last decade in Utah. I guarantee your tires are not suitable for snow. There are plenty of capable towing tires with the 3-peaks on them, but itís doubtful you would come across them in a normal tire shop there.
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Old 01-26-2021, 10:23 PM   #6
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I lived the first thirty years of my life in Texas, and the last decade in Utah. I guarantee your tires are not suitable for snow. There are plenty of capable towing tires with the 3-peaks on them, but itís doubtful you would come across them in a normal tire shop there.
Yeah, "all season" is an advertising term, not reality in the winter. 3 peaks on the truck, and full winters on the Subie
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Old 01-27-2021, 05:29 AM   #7
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and here we go. Leaving today. Surprise overnight! Destination 400 miles away. 4 wd we have but never use it unless going in from a dead stop like up a hill. Otherwise slow and steady does it
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Old 01-27-2021, 05:46 AM   #8
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My f250 will get stuck in wet grass if the front axle is not locked in.
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Old 01-27-2021, 06:45 AM   #9
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My f250 will get stuck in wet grass if the front axle is not locked in.
So does my k1500!
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Old 01-27-2021, 08:05 AM   #10
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Yes we have driven in snow/ice/rain. Slow and easy is the key. We had to use our 4x4 to get us out of a campsite.

Not so funny story...Christmas 1995 we went from SW Ohio to Southern California towing a 27 ft TT with a Dodge Ram 318. In New Mexico we ran into icy rain then snow. At the time we had our CB with us, traveling in the slow lane and a trucker went zooming by, complaining about all the slow "idiots" in his way. We spent the night at a Flying J. The next morning, with dry conditions and clear roads, we headed out. Not even 3 miles up the road we passed an over turned semi. DW swears it was the same trucker who went zooming past us.
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Old 01-27-2021, 09:10 AM   #11
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if I had 4wd, would it make a big difference or am I being naive?

Let's just say that unless you have driven in snow and ice in the mountains pulling a trailer it can get exciting to the point of being deadly. There is a saying with 4 wheel drive in bad weather and soft ground. 4 wheel drive can get you stuck 4 times faster. I know that for sure.



Snow in northern Arizona and Utah is a given in-fact right now many roads including major Interstates are still closed in Arizona from the last storm.
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Old 01-27-2021, 09:44 AM   #12
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Living most of my life in deep snowy Minnesota. My first thought is tires. As soon as I think they are getting worn, or I start to slide, they are replaced. I have no desire to deal with crappy tires.

We bought the DW a new car about 1.5 years ago in August. 1st winter, we could not even get in the driveway, less the garage. Driveway had to be fully shoveled and salted, down to the pavement. Put new tires on, and it is a whole new car. For me, I put on All Season tires, but I researched tires, found ones with high winter traction ratings. Are the tires as quiet as the OEM junk, nope, but I know I can go and stop.

As for 2wd verses 4wd. I will always have at least on 4wd in the garage, hopefully a truck. When you get stuck in a 4WD you are stuck. Also 4wd gives you false confidence about the road conditions, as you can get moving. But you still have the same braking abilities as a 2wd. My experience this is were inexperienced 4wd/AWD drivers get in trouble.

I would start by having your tire tread depth checked. Then go online and see what the road condition ratings are for them. Discount tire had a decent chart for comparing various driving condition ratings of tires.
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Old 01-27-2021, 07:12 PM   #13
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12 replies and nothing on towing a fifth wheel in snow. Iím curious about this as well. We stayed an extra night somewhere recently because although I have a lot of experience driving in snow, I have zero towing in it. I donít worry much about getting going, but whatís makes me nervous is stopping or generally controlling the trailer when it loses traction. With no anti skid on the trailer, I have this vision of the trailer tires locking up and next thing I know weíre facing different directions.

We need some folks with a commercial driving background to chime in.
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Old 01-27-2021, 09:18 PM   #14
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I have done it multiple times. I don't recommend it, to anyone. If you can, just wait it out. Snow on the ground is one thing, actively snowing is another. The temperature and how long it has been cold, matter. How hard it is snowing/sleeting matters. Fresh snow in cold temperatures isn't that hard to deal with. Near freezing roadways with water/sleet/freezing rain, are far worse. I don't ever want to drive in real icy conditions, towing or otherwise.

Even the best drivers can get into trouble in winter conditions while towing. The following distance has to be increased a LOT more than you think. There are not many people with the patience to go slow enough while towing in winter conditions. Other drivers are just as likely to cause you problems, as they are to cause themselves problems.

I will also say, that snow and winter weather is different in places that are less prepared. Snow in SD or CO, isn't the same as snow in GA or TX. Some locations are prepared for it, others are not. Try driving through Austin, in the rare winter weather there.

This happened on La Veta Pass in May a few years ago. At 9,000+ feet, it was sunny until a passing snow shower hit the shaded roadway.Click image for larger version

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Old 02-03-2021, 01:04 PM   #15
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4 wheel drive is great to get you rolling from a stop. After that it doesn't help. In fact, it's a liability bc you can get over confident, driving too fast and then you get in trouble.
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Old 02-03-2021, 01:26 PM   #16
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f I had 4wd, would it make a big difference or am I being naive?



4WD is great for more traction (forward motion) but doesn't help a lick with slowing down on snow/ice. If you're going to tow in winter months, consider snow tires and tire chains. The idea is to improve traction for stability and be a sensible by checking road conditions in advance and being prepared if something does happen.



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Old 02-03-2021, 06:02 PM   #17
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I have driven my 4wd F350 and 27.5RBSS 5th wheel in the snow and ice many times. Never a problem, but I slow down to meet conditions. 4wd has helped in getting going and in deep snow (and on wet grass with no load), but I don't use it driving down the road. 2wd vs 4wd you still only have 4 tires on the ground for friction and control. If it is glare ice I call it quits for the day.
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Old 02-03-2021, 06:42 PM   #18
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I pull our 37' Eagle almost every winter to Colorado or Utah for ski season with my 2500. Been over lots of snowy roads. I am 4WD, but very seldom use it driving with the trailer. I feel if it's unsafe for 2WD, I probably don't need to be there. (I'll use it if I'm starting out of deep snow.) I do, however, always swap my "All Season" tires out for my snow tires. I have a real set of snow tires (triple mountains) on their own rims I keep for my truck. Before the trip, I do a tire rotation to have them swap me to my snow tires. When I return, I swap back. Driven in plenty of snow covered roads during that time with no trouble and no worry at all of being out of control or unsafe. I didn't stay at Holiday Inn last night, but I lived in Utah for several years and learned to drive on the snow.

I also know the roads I travel really well and know when they're safe (based on weather and amounts of snow) and when they're not safe to travel on. If I question it at all, I delay until it's safe or take a different route I know is safe.

And yes, I get lots of looks from the tire guys when I order new ones and have them put on the rims here in Texas.

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Old 02-04-2021, 10:38 PM   #19
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Got Caught!

I was trying to beat a snow storm home last year and the weatherman was off by a few hours. Just enough we got caught about an hour from home, did I say an hour from home at normal speed? It was snowing and blowing, engaged 4 wheel drive and slowed down a whole bunch. It was not fun, no place to stop except for the ditch and I wanted to avoid that.

This winter we drove an extra 300 miles to get around a snow storm, no regrets.

I don't like the snow and I don't want all that salt and chemical on the rig.
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Old 02-05-2021, 05:48 PM   #20
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Thanks everyone for weighing in. If I decide to make a habit of it, I will for sure be getting a set of snow tires for both my truck and my rig, before I venture into the wintry North.

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