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How To Weigh Down A Truck Bed In Winter For Added Traction

How To Weigh Down A Truck Bed In Winter For Added Traction

Even if you have a large pickup truck, driving on a snowy or icy road can be tricky. To make it a little easier and safer, you may want to weigh down your truck bed for added traction.

Adding 100-150 pounds of weight to a pickup truck bed over its rear axle can significantly improve its traction in winter conditions. Sandbags and concrete blocks are two of the most commonly used items to add weight safely.

However, in order to do this safely and effectively, there are some tips you should keep in mind!

Why Weighing Down a Truck Bed Is Useful

When the proper amount of weight is placed in your truck bed, the benefits can be enormous when navigating slick winter roads.

Should you decide to add weight to your truck bed and your truck is rear-wheel drive, you can automatically expect to gain additional traction, control, and stability since doing so will enable your truck’s wheels to grip the road surface more forcefully.

However, while you may be thinking the more weight the better in your truck bed, that is not necessarily the best course of action. If too much weight is added, you will create the need for a greater stopping distance.

Since road conditions may already be hazardous, creating a situation where it may take your truck longer to come to a halt may result in you being involved in an accident you may otherwise have been able to avoid.

If your truck is front-wheel drive, we usually don’t see the need to add additional weight to your truck bed. With a FWD truck, more of the truck’s weight is already positioned near the front axle, giving your truck’s tires the necessary traction for slick roads. 

Should you decide to add weight to your truck bed in these situations, the worst you may do is decrease your ability to accelerate at full power and also decrease your fuel efficiency.

Does Adding Weight Help 4WD Trucks Too?

When you have a 4WD truck, you would rarely if ever have to worry about adding extra weight to your truck bed. On your 4WD truck, the power is always equally distributed among the truck’s four wheels. 

Because of this, your truck should always have enough power to give you the traction needed to navigate snow or ice-covered road.

For many drivers of pickup trucks, they sometimes get confused and believe the principles of 4WD trucks and AWD trucks are the same for winter driving. If you are doing this, you are making a mistake that could have you involved in a serious auto accident.

When you have an AWD truck, it has been designed to ensure the weight is always stable in both the front and back of the truck. If you add extra weight to AWD trucks, the vehicle’s computer gets mixed up about the change in the truck’s weight balance. 

In the worst-case scenario, this computer confusion will result in your truck spinning and sliding in situations where this would not normally occur.

How Much Weight to Add

Once you have decided that adding weight to your truck bed will be beneficial to you in getting additional traction on winter roads, your next task is to determine just how much extra weight your truck will need.

In these situations, we find many drivers assume they need to add hundreds and hundreds of pounds of extra weight to their truck bed. While this sounds beneficial, it is actually the opposite!

To get the best results for your truck when weighing it down in the winter, we suggest you only add anywhere from 100-150 pounds of extra weight to your truck bed. By having this weight placed over the axle, it should provide you with just enough extra traction when driving in the winter.

While you may be able to go up to as much as 200 pounds without suffering any negative effects, an amount more than this will be counterproductive. 

By adding an excessive amount of weight, your truck’s fuel efficiency can drop substantially!

Along with a drop in fuel efficiency, your vehicle will also be slower to accelerate and stop. This increased stopping distance could potentially put you at greater risk for an accident than without the weight at all.

Five Options to Weigh Down a Pickup Truck Bed

Once you decide you will add extra weight to your truck bed, take some time to consider what you will use to accomplish this for your truck. Since you don’t want your truck damaged along the way, always make sure that whatever you use is something that won’t be sliding around in the truck bed.

For most people, sandbags are the preferred method of weighing down their trucks in the winter. When using these, place them directly over your truck’s rear axle. If the sandbags are placed behind the axle, the front end of your truck becomes lighter, ultimately giving you even less traction.

Concrete blocks can also be used to weigh down your truck bed in the winter. Since these are usually very heavy, the good news is that it should only take a few blocks to get you to 100-150 pounds.

However, make sure the blocks are well-secured. Otherwise, they may slide around and damage your truck bed.

Weights used for exercising are also common items many people use to weigh down their truck beds for extra traction. Just as you should do with other items, always set the weights directly over your truck’s rear axle, and make sure they are properly secured.

If your truck bed contains a toolbox, you can use this to your advantage in the winter to help you achieve better traction. Large enough to be filled up with plenty of tools and other items, this is something that will require little heavy lifting on your part. 

Also, anything you put inside the toolbox will be protected from the elements, and it will still leave you plenty of room to haul other items if needed.

Finally, you can actually use the snow itself to give you better traction!

If your truck has been parked inside a garage, pull it out into your driveway. After this, grab your shovel and transfer the snow you shovel out of your driveway to your truck bed. 

If the temperature is cold enough, it won’t melt while you are on the road. Also, this option won’t cost you anything, takes only a few minutes to finish, and will be more than enough weight to give you a surprising amount of traction.

Is It Bad to Leave the Weight in Your Truck Bed?

Once you get your truck bed weighed down in the winter so that you can get some extra traction on slick roads, you may be wondering if it will be okay for you to leave that weight in your truck indefinitely.

Most of the time, if you have used your common sense and adhered to your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations for maximum payloads, you should be able to leave your truck bed weighed down as long as it is necessary.

Given that a load of 100-150 pounds is all that is necessary for a standard pickup truck, this is well within the bounds of any truck!

Unfortunately, some people don’t pay attention to the details regarding this matter. When this happens, trucks do get damaged.

Should the manufacturer’s recommendations be exceeded, you could possibly damage your truck’s suspension system. 

Along with being an expensive repair, it could be worse if your truck is not under warranty, or if it is discovered you didn’t abide by the manufacturer’s recommendations.

In these situations, your warranty could be voided, meaning you would be responsible for paying the big repair bill yourself.

Extra Weight, Extra Confidence!

If you have just started driving a pickup truck or are perhaps new to winter driving conditions, weighing down your truck bed during the winter can give you some extra confidence when on the road.

When roads get especially slick from snow or ice, pickup trucks that are 2WD are often prone to fishtailing, since their rear tires will have far less grip on a slick road. 

By adding 100 or more pounds of extra weight to the truck bed, you will increase your odds of avoiding unexpected sliding and spinning.

Are Winter Tires A Better Choice?

If you are concerned about your truck becoming damaged due to extra weight in its bed, or you just don’t want the hassle that goes with adding the extra weight, winter tires may be a viable alternative.

In winter conditions where temperatures go below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, regular tires can lose traction due to their rubber becoming rigid and stiff. However, winter tires are made from rubber composed of special compounds that are able to keep tires gripping the road better in slick conditions.

Also, remember that if your truck has tires with excessive tread wear, it won’t matter how much weight you have added to the truck bed. Even if you have an outstanding 4WD truck, slick tires on slick roads never add up to anything good.

If you feel weighing down your truck bed in the winter will be the missing ingredient you’ve been seeking for additional traction, make sure you do so in a way that is safe for you and your truck. Whether it’s sandbags, weights, or other items, being careful along the way will keep you safer on a slippery road.

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Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of VehicleAnswers.com! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!