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Ford F-150 In Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

The Ford F-150 is the truck that has it all—exceptional towing capacity, refined road manners, and impressive utility. These qualities have fueled sales of the F-150 such that it is America’s bestselling truck ever.

How does the F-150 drive in winter? Find out in this article.

Here is the short answer about whether the Ford F-150 is good for snow and winter driving:

The Ford F-150 is good in snow thanks to its generous ground clearance, 4WD capability, and many safety features. It has Stability Control, Traction Control, and Brake Assist technologies. The combination of these qualities in the F-150 means you can drive safely in winter.

Is a Ford F-150 Good in the Snow?

Some models are better equipped to drive in snow, with the Ford F-150 being an outstanding example. The F-150 is popular for its ability to travel in different conditions. As such, its prowess in driving through snow is not surprising.

Thanks to generous ground clearance, the Ford F-150 can wade through unplowed roads without stalling. Additionally, the beastly EcoBoost V6 engine enables the F-150 to force its way through packed snow easily.

If you want increased snow driving capabilities, consider upgrading to a 4WD-equipped F-150. With 4WD, your F-150 can send torque to all four wheels simultaneously. This is useful in snowy conditions where it’s sometimes necessary to have power in all wheels.

What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?

Below are the top features we found that improve winter driving on the F-150 models:

Four-Wheel Drive (4WD) system

Although the base F-150 has a standard front-wheel drive (FWD) drivetrain, you can upgrade to four-wheel drive at extra cost. No one likes paying extra for features, but getting 4WD on your F-150 is worth it.

In operation, the 4WD system on the F-150 delivers torque to all four wheels independently. With four wheels getting enough power, you’ll enjoy greater traction and control in wintry terrain.

The Ford F-150 has an Electronic Shift-On-The-Fly (ESOF) system, which allows you to switch between 2WD and 4WD.

That you have 4WD on your F-150 doesn’t mean you’ll use it always. You’d have to activate it when you’re driving in challenging terrain such as snow and ice.

Electronic Stability Control

The Electronic Stability Control system on the F-150 protects your vehicle from skidding and slipping on slippery surfaces. It does this by monitoring wheel operation and preventing wheel slippage.

Roads covered in ice or snow typically have low traction. Thus, your wheels find it difficult to grip the road and can easily slip. Should this happen, your car will go out of control and crash.

The ESC uses sensors to monitor the rotation of wheels. If the wheels are spinning excessively, the ESC applies the brakes on each wheel. It could also apply engine braking to limit power to the wheels.

These actions will reduce wheelspin and prevent your F-150 from experiencing wheel slippage. This way, you can drive on ice or snow, knowing your wheels won’t slip.

Traction Control System

Traction Control helps your tires find traction in less-than-ideal driving conditions (ice, snow). The TCS uses sensors on your F-150 to determine the difference in the wheel speed and vehicle speed.

For example, your truck could be moving at 40 mph, while one wheel is spinning at 50 mph. The TCS will detect this via the sensors and take measures to reduce that wheel’s spinning before it loses traction completely.

The TCS will reduce engine speed to reduce the power supplied to that wheel. Consequently, the wheel’s rate of spinning reduces, allowing it to grip the road properly and find traction.

Brake Assist

Brake Assist on the Ford F-150 helps cut down on stopping times while driving. This is a boon in winter where low traction increases the time it takes to stop a vehicle.

The Brake Assist system works by maximizing brake pressure on the wheels when you brake. This significantly reduces braking distance and allows for quicker halts.

Antilock Brake System

Ask any driver what they fear most about winter driving and “wheel lockup” will pop up among the replies. As the name suggests, wheel lockup occurs when your wheels cease spinning.

Wheel lockup results from application of excessive braking force on the wheels. In particular, it’s common on wet surfaces such as roads covered with ice or snow.

The Anti-Lock Brake System on F-150s is designed to stop your wheels from locking while driving. When you brake, ABS monitors wheel speed. If a wheel is losing speed rapidly (indicating potential locking), ABS will reduce brake force on that wheel.

Electronic Brake-Force Distribution

The Electronic Brake-Force Distribution system works much like the Anti-Lock Brake System. It prevents wheel lockup, but functions differently.

Whereas ABS regulates brake pressure, EBD distributes brake force proportionally. Wheels with less load, which have higher chances of locking, receive less brake force than those without.

In this manner, each wheel gets just enough brake force that it doesn’t seize. Your wheels don’t lock and you get to drive safely in winter.

You should also read our article on how long Ford F-150s last.

Does an F-150 Have Snow Mode?

The F-150 features Ford’s Drive Mode Selection system that allows you to choose different modes of performance for specific driving conditions. The DMS system has a Snow/Wet mode that you can select. 

Choosing the Snow/Wet Mode gives your truck better traction in wet driving conditions and enhances stability. Below is a guide on how to activate Snow/Wet Mode on your F-150:

  • Press the button at the end of the column shifter to bring up the Drive Mode menu on your cluster display.
  • The Drive Mode menu will show on your cluster display. You’ll then select the Snow/Mode option by using the arrow keys on your steering wheel and press the OK button to confirm the selection.
  • The Snow/Wet Mode icon will display at the bottom of your cluster display, signaling the successful activation of the S/W mode.

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on F-150?

You can outfit your F-150 with extra snow gear, depending on your needs. For example, if you live in an area that gets heavy snowfall regularly, you may want to fit your F-150 with snow gear such as tire chains and ice studs. This will improve traction significantly and bolster stability.

Other snow gears you can consider include:

  • Snow tires
  • Snow socks
  • Tire boots
  • Cable chains

How Much Snow Can an F-150 Handle?

The F-150 comes with a ground clearance of 9.4 inches, which is high for a midsize truck. Since it is high off the ground, the F-150 can handle driving in deep snow.

Unlike smaller models, the likelihood of your F-150 being stuck in snow is reduced. Based on the F-150’s considerable ride height, you should be able to handle driving in snow up to eight inches.

We also have an article on important Ford F-150 statistics you should know.

How Do F-150 Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

The F-150 is a fuel-injected model, so it warms up fast and comes to life quickly, irrespective of how cold the weather is. However, if your F-150 refuses to start in cold weather, check for the following:

  • Old spark plugs
  • Dirt in air filters and fuel filters
  • Bad electrical system (failed solenoid, worn ignition switch, etc.)
  • Moisture in fuel lines
  • Worn battery

Can an F-150 Drive on Ice?

The F-150 can drive on ice, thanks to 4WD, safe braking technology, and other features. However, the high ground clearance of F-150s predisposes them to a huge risk of rollover crash in icy conditions. However, careful driving safeguards your truck against rollover on ice-covered roads.

Does the F-150 Have 4WD?

The Ford F-150 comes standard with front-wheel drive (FWD). Still, Ford offers the option to upgrade to a 4WD-equipped F-150. For better performance in winter, the 4WD F-150 is recommended.

What About Older F-150 Models And Winter Driving?

Unless you have an 80s era F-150, your F-150 should drive decently in winter. But this will depend on whether it has safety features such as Traction Control and the likes.

ABS didn’t appear on F-150s until the late 90s/early 2000s. Other features like Traction Control and Stability Control came later after that. 

If you’re buying a used F-150, ask if it comes with the following features to know if its safe for winter driving;

  • Antilock Brake System
  • Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control

Please also check out our article on how long Ford Rangers last.

Do F-150 Need Snow Tires?

The F-150 requires snow tires if you plan to use it extensively in winter conditions. All-season tires that come standard on your F-150 won’t cut it as they are less-suited for winter.

Snow tires provide better traction on wet pavement, which is necessary to keep your truck from sliding out. All-season tires offer less grip and increase likelihood of wheel slip, which can cause an accident.

By keeping your vehicle stable in winter conditions, snow tires ensure you stay in control always. So, you don’t have to fear your vehicle losing control and crashing.

Can You Mount A Snow Plow On An F-150?

You can mount a snowplow on your F-150. The F-150 has an optional ‘Snow Plow Prep’ package, which offers increased ability to plow snow.

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