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Snow Mode Availability


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We're going shopping for a late LS400, and live in some wintry high desert in Wyoming. Looks like SNOW MODE would be important to have in the traction management system, otherwise driving might be as scary as my old '59 Thunderbird. ( WHOA NELLY!) When did this SNOW option become available, how common was it and did it become standard on these cars after a certain year?

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Snow mode....

Some versions simply start off from a stop in second gear, later versions actually modify the engine torque curve. Regardless, you should be able to "feather" the throttle enough that you can simulate snow mode satisfactorily.

In central MT I always had a bag of sand laying in each side of the trunk as near the wheel wells as I could get them. And I ALWAYS had a set of snowchains on board during the 10 winter months.

Were I you I would be VERY careful to avoid FWD vehicles or front torque biased AWD. Those can be extremely dangerous to handle in the kind of weather often encountered in MT.

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What I did was picked up some used steel rims that fit my LS400(off some van-don't know which one) and installed Nokian Hakkapellita 2's which come studded from the factory. At first snow fall, I install these winter tires(4) and either keep the tank full of gas or add a little weight in the trunk. I just can't believe how well the LS400 with traction control works in snow and ice. Nokian also has Hakkapeliita 4's now which have a triangular stud and improves traction by another 8% over my Hakkapeliita 2's.

Winters don't scare me now. :D


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I am fairly certain that 1998 was the first model year for snow mode + VSC. I think 1998 is also the first year of the 5-speed auto transmission.

My previous 90 LS with snow tires (it did not have Trac) and a couple of bags of sand in the trunk was quite a handful in snow for me although its new owner told me that he is happy with how it does in snow.

My 00 LS with snow mode, VSC, and Blizzak snow tires was absolutely incredible in heavy snow last winter. And it seems to have more ground clearance that my 90 LS which I high centered on snow a few times in the 13+ years I had it.

Once you learn to trust it, VSC is pretty hilarious when the roads are slick or snow covered. Of course VSC will not save you if you drive like a complete idiot but gosh is it fun to watch it interfene.

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