My CX-9 could not handle snow

So last week we went to Lake Arrowhead. We had rented a cabin that had about half a block of very light snow and ice. My car was the only car that could not make it up the street to the cabins driveway. No matter what we tried- picking at the ice, salt, low gear, the car would only lock up and start sliding. We even went down to the towns auto store and bought chains (for half a block of street) and those also were no help. The car would lock up, lights would go off, and I'd start sliding sideways or back downhill. My tires are not new but they're okay. The other two cars in our family (2021 Volvo SUV and a 2008 Honda Civic) both made it up no problem. I ended up having to pay for overnight parking at a hotel 2 blocks away and walk to the cabin. Any ideas what the problem may be?
 
Is the vehicle AWD? If not, that's likely your issue (unless your tires are truly that useless). A lighter two wheel drive vehicle with similar tires will likely climb hills better than your heavier CX9 if it's also two wheel drive.

If it's FWD and you put the chains on the wrong tire, well they won't work.

Also, many people who don't often drive in challenging snowy conditions will have issues because they don't know how to control the vehicle in those situations. Many will think stepping on the pedal helps maintain momentum, but it's the opposite. If you're losing traction you don't want to spin wheels. You'll get nowhere with the drive wheels spinning. Also, hill assist or traction control will stop wheels entirely when spinning is detected.

When people suggest you turn off traction control (or hill assist), what they are suggesting is by turning off this system you now need to get a sense for if your tires are spinning. You need to feather the pedal by not over spinning the tires by applying gentle force to maintain as much grip as possible as you move forward. If your traction control is turned on, it will stop spinning wheels as soon as they slip which makes it difficult to make forward progress on a hill.
 
Upvote 0
:
North of Toronto
:
2019 CX-9 Sig
OP we all assume you have AWD because FWD would be a simple explanation, though still surprising.

The locations you mention are in California. Again, the obvious question is in 35 yrs have you seen a lot of snow driving? 35 yrs experience means nothing if the total times snow driving is 2. Not trying to doubt you, but I guess asking this means I doubt you...

But anyone know why the steering wheel would lock? To me that's go straight to dealer time, no?
 
Last edited:
Upvote 0
I have a similar problem with a CX-9 2017. We were a group going to my friend's cabin. It is located in a remote area and the last 10km of road is not maintained during winter. There was 5 inches of fresh snow on the asphalt road.

I was the first to arrive and tried to climb the first hill. I was going slow up hill until the 4wd light started flashing. At the moment it started flashing, I lost all traction. I had to turn off the vehicle for the 4wd light to go away. Starting from the same point, I gave it another try and was able to progress until the light flashed again. Tuned off the vehicle again. I decided to give it a last try without TCS on. Seemed better to me but ended with the same result, 4wd light flashes and no traction. I wasn't even halfway through a 500ft not so inclined hill.

I waited for my friends to arrive, one Honda Pilot and a GMC Silverado. They both went the hill really easily. I tried again in their tracks and wasn't able to follow them. I had to leave the CX-9 down the hill for the weekend and get in the Pilot with my friend. The road was worse going toward the cabin (steeper, more snow) and the Pilot went there without diffculties.

I wonder if it is a normal behavior for the CX-9.
 
Upvote 0
:
2014 Ford Explorer Sport, 2009 CX9(Wife's)
I believe 4wd flashing means there's a fault in the AWD system and reverts to just FWD.

How many miles on your CX9?
What tires?
 
Upvote 0

sm1ke

Work In Progress..
Moderator
Contributor
:
Canada
:
'18 CX-9 Signature
40k miles, winter tires, tread still good.

What is the remaining tread measurement and what tires are they specifically? Are all four tires the same brand/type/size? Were the tires spinning at all during the climb?

Here's a screenshot from the Owner's Manual of the 2017 CX-9:

4WD indicator.JPG


Based on your description, it sounds like the diff oil may have overheated?
 
Upvote 0
:
Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring 2016
I've driven my 2016 in both deep snow and very slippery polished snow and was about to ask, "What 4WD light?" Now I know.

If the tires don't grip, you got nothin'.
 
Upvote 0
What is the remaining tread measurement and what tires are they specifically? Are all four tires the same brand/type/size? Were the tires spinning at all during the climb?

Here's a screenshot from the Owner's Manual of the 2017 CX-9:

View attachment 298257

Based on your description, it sounds like the diff oil may have overheated?
Hankook pike Rw11, I did not measure precisely, but they look like 9/32 minimum. They have one winter and less than 16k miles on them.

The tires were spinning a bit. The climb was easy... until the light started flashing.
 
Upvote 0
:
Mazda CX-9 Signature
Kinda hard to take in that even with winter tires you couldn't make it.

As mentioned already, diff oil temp probably got too hot. Change it out when you can.
 
Upvote 0

sm1ke

Work In Progress..
Moderator
Contributor
:
Canada
:
'18 CX-9 Signature
Hankook pike Rw11, I did not measure precisely, but they look like 9/32 minimum. They have one winter and less than 16k miles on them.

The tires were spinning a bit. The climb was easy... until the light started flashing.

Hmm, definitely sounds like it should have made it up the hill with no issues.

Some AWD CX-5 owners have reported that the diff oil was underfilled from the factory. That could potentially be an issue for the CX-9 as well? Less fluid > more friction > more heat > cut power to protect diff? Can anyone else verify?
 
Upvote 0
:
Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring 2016
How could the differential gear oil overheat, especially in the winter? Spinning a tire a lot will do it. Being way low on oil will do it. Or a mechanical problem that needs to be repaired. And, there are other reasons for the 4WD alarm light to illuminate; all need to be checked.
 
Upvote 0