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How Well Does A Ford Transit Drive In Snow? (+Owner Reviews)

If you are a person living in snow-covered areas and thinking of whether Ford Transit would be a good option or not, then this article would be helpful for you. Let us start with a quick answer:

The Ford Transit does well when driving in snow with winter tires and an all-wheel-drive feature, which allows it to avoid slipping on winter roads. Owners of the Transit are generally positive about its performance as an RWD and AWD car in snowy conditions. Moreover, the Ford Transit has safety systems and traction control that minimize risks associated with winter driving.

First, we will look at the owner’s reviews for the Ford Transit, then we’ll dive into specific features of the van responsible for providing stability and performance. Scrutinize each feature and how they help build the Ford Transit, America’s most selling van.

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Also read: Types Of Gas A Ford Transit Takes (Explained)

Customer Reviews On Ford Transit

 First, we feel it’s essential to consider what the car owners think about it. We went through numerous forums and YouTube videos and gathered the information helpful for our car in the discussion.

In general, people seemed to be very positive about the newer model of Ford Transit (from 2020 onwards). With some snow tires, the van performs perfectly well in snow. Let’s start with looking at reviews of people:

“These things Ford transit Vans are snow/ice tanks when AWD capable. The vehicle weight plus the spread of the wheelbase on the longer 15 passenger version handle snow and ice effortlessly. Snow tires are a good way to go too.”

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“Have a 2021 AWD Transit 350, 3.5 turbo engine, high roof, extended body. (It’s a bus!) Just made a 2,300-mile trip in snow and the van did really well. Was much more stable at freeway speeds than I thought it would be, although it’s not super happy on badly maintained roads. The power is excellent. Got 15.8 MPG on the initial trip on 89 octane and 16.7 MPG on my return trip on 93 octanes, so obviously the engine prefers premium gas with the turbo. Overall, fairly impresses with the performance, comfort, and driveability in snow.”

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“I put these snow tires on my work van which is a 2010 Ford Transit Connect XLT and they are great. The ride is smooth, and I don’t get stuck in small snow anymore. They are on the stock wheels as well.”

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Our extensive research revealed that earlier models of the Ford Transit van, which lacked the various features listed below, faced lots of complaints and dissatisfaction from its owners. The van without AWD, traction control, and other parts were not made for winters. Below are customer reviews on the 2010 version of the truck.

“they are….. terrible in the snow… as are all rwd vans: bit of weight in the back between the rear wheels helps, but you don’t want to add too much to the back and non to the front or it’ll make the back axle more likely to skip out on a corner… you’ll be fine if you know it’s a bad corner and go really slow, the problem is when it doesn’t look so bad until 1/2 way round and it’s too late….”

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“Nice van in you’re good weather. No Winter/Snow tires available, drives terrible in snow. Got to wonder what Ford was thinking?”

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Furthermore, we also want to add this review of a 2018 Transit owner which only has 2WD. Even this owner is quite pleased with the performance of the van, although he does mention the Transits rear can sometimes slip around a little.

Also read: 6 Common Problems Of A Ford Transit

Features That Help Transit To Travel In Snow

Ford Intelligent AWD

An essential addition to the Transit (from 2020 onwards) is the addition of an all-wheel-drive option. Models before 2020 came with an FWD or RWD. With AWD, the power can be diverted to wheels as needed, with standard-setting sending 100% torque to the front axle. All the latest Transit models come with an AWD system, while Ford Transit Custom still comes with an FWD.

The most common Transit models are two-wheeled models, meaning engine power travels heavily on a single set of wheels (rear generally). This means that one set of wheels has little or no power, which reduces the ability to pull.  Often, such tires suffer in winter driving conditions when traction is low. If the wheels can’t get a pull, they’ll start to slip. And when it does, it’s only a matter of time before your car gets out of control.

Ford’s Intelligent AWD system protects the wheels’ smoothness, especially on winter roads. Unlike RWD, AWD can send power to the rear and front wheels at the same time. This increases the ability of each wheel to get a drag — even on normal slippery roads in winter. You should know this, though: even if AWD works, your wheels will not always gain power.

The AWD works in the required way, which means it will send power to all wheels only if necessary. This includes poor road conditions such as snow-covered.

Traction Control

Traction Control measures the speed of the wheels and compares them to that of a car. Wheel slip occurs when the wheels start to move faster than the car itself. The Traction Control system on the Transit prevents tires from slipping and losing traction in wet areas. As the slipperiness of the tires occurs most often on a slippery road, Traction Control is helpful in winter.

When Traction Control detects slipping, it does the following things:

  • “squeezes” the engine, that is, it stops the engine from energizing the wheels
  • apply the brakes on slippery wheels

With these actions, Traction Control can reduce tire acceleration and eliminate slipping. This allows your car to grip the snowy roads and prevent it from losing control.

Advanced Trek With Rolling Stability Control (RSC)

Another advanced feature in the recent Transit models prevents the van from slipping and provides traction and stability. This standard stability control system offers side-slip control and electronic durability. This utilizes gyroscopic sensors to monitor roll motion and the rate of turning. Ultimately helping determine how Roll Stability Control (RSC) will use the brakes to help improve vehicle traction and stability.

Electronic Stability

Like Traction Control, the ESC feature in Transits keeps the car stable while driving. The ESC system monitors vehicle performance to detect loss of stability. If the ESC sees that your vehicle is becoming unstable and may leave its way, it will eventually enter stability.

It will slow down engine speed, leading to the slowing down of your car. By slowing down your truck, ESC makes it easier for you to regain control.

Also, if your van moves away from its first lane, the ESC will use the brakes to correct its course. Here is an example of how that works:

Imagine that your van is out of control as you turn left, and you are drifting forward. The Electronic Stability Control will apply the brakes to the wheels on the left side of your van and leave the others spinning. This stops your van from turning right and then turns it back in the right direction (left).

Limited Slip Differential (LSD)

Ford Transit’s Limited Slip Differential (LSD) is a factor in increasing gravity. When the steering wheel slips, the power is transferred to another wheel simultaneously; in other words, both wheels help together. It is not an electronic system (with sensors or the like); it is a mechanical tool (clutch) on the differential. The LSD system cannot be turned off. Also, the LSD is an optional feature in the van, but we highly recommend it.

Side Wind Stabilization Control

Snowstorms, hailstorms, or fast winds are common sightings during winters, which can play a crucial role in throwing your van off-road. The wind speed may affect the vehicle’s stability and cause the car to overturn. Transit models have a side wind stabilization feature that helps keep the vehicle stable when driving and struck by strong side winds.

Anti-lock Brake System (ABS)

The Anti-lock Brake System protects your tires from locking when you apply the brakes. Since standing on slippery roads requires strong braking, you must use the brakes firmly. While this allows you to stop your car quickly, it can cause tire locks.

As it can cause your car to skate, locking the tires at high speed is not what you want. Fortunately, the Antilock Brake System ensures that your wheels will not lock under hard braking.

ABS monitors wheel movement while braking. When the tire is about to lock, the system releases the brakes. This reduces the effect of the brakes on the wheel and stops it from locking in motion.

Post Collision Braking

This advanced driver assist feature can potentially lessen collision severity by applying moderate brake pressure when an initial collision is detected.

Weight And Distribution

Besides ABS, electronic stability, and traction control, weight distribution is an important aspect that plays a crucial role in how a car drives in the snow. One of the critical reasons SUVs perform better in the snow is a shorter wheelbase and a more balanced weight distribution. By the way, the Ford Transit weighs 3500 kg.

All other things equal, a heavy car will have more traction than a lighter car. Heavier vehicles are likelier to have more extended wheels (the middle distance between the rear wheels) than passenger cars. This length slows the start of the slide or spin, giving you more time to adjust it gently. Finally, a heavy vehicle usually has a low ground clearance, which helps their bodies clear the deepest ice, a situation they rarely encounter on the road.

Since most models are AWD, your weight won’t make much difference as the van will automatically distribute wherever you place it. In Transit Custom, which comes in FWD, putting more weight in the front is preferable.

Ground Clearance

Depending on the year and model, the Ford Transit will have a ground clearance of 5.2-inches to 5.7-inches. This number may also vary depending on how loaded the van is.

The ride’s height is low for the van, but this is due to accessibility above anything. You can buy a Ford Transit with only three rows of seats or one that’s front seats only, leaving space behind for all your luggage needs.

If you live in an area with 4-5 inches of snow, then Ford Transit can easily be used, but if snow is more profound than that, SUVs are preferred, with a ground clearance of 8-10 inches.

Wheelbase

Transit has an extensive wheelbase; a car with a longer wheelbase is generally more difficult to turn because a more extended wheelbase means you have a bigger turning radius.

Also, a longer wheelbase has a slight break-over angle because of which vehicle is more likely to scrape their bottoms on an obstacle.

Does Adding Weight To My Transit Car Help In The Snow?

Adding more weight does not improve the traction of AWD vans such as Transit. If slipping or skidding is detected, 90% or more of an AWD engine’s power is sent to the wheels having tires getting a better grip. If there is more weight in the back, this could lighten the front too much, causing less traction there. The engine compensates for this by sending more power to these wheels, which could cause them to spin.

Do We Require Winter Tires On Transit?

Transit from the factory comes equipped with an all-season tire, which is generally inadequate for wet surfaces, and one could hardly use them on snow. That is why snow tires are recommended to be bought, as they provide much more stability on winter roads. We have seen numerous people talking about how the performance of their vans increased in the snow with snow tires.

How Does Transit Deal With Low Winter Temperatures?

Transit uses the Electronic Fuel Injection system with its engine, which allows it to reach operating temperatures faster. Cold weather will not affect Transit because EFI ensures rapid warming, even in the cold.

This means that your Transit will not have problems operating at low temperatures in winter. If so, it may be due to an error in the system. A shorter wheelbase is comfortable for snow and off-roading, but a longer wheelbase does the job as well. The weight is equally distributed in the Ford transit, so you are less likely to roll over while off-roading.