I believe the claim was that in messy conditions a FWD car is better
than a 4WD truck. I don't believe that at all. I have two FWD vehicles
and a 4WD pickup. I'll drive the pickup over the FWD cars any day on a
snow covered or slushy road. The truck is heavier and less affected by
slush. It also handles better in deep snow and is less prone to
understeer and easier to recover from a skid should one occur. FWD cars
are very tricky to handle in a skid as the response required is nearly
opposite that for a RWD vehicle.
Not really taking a side here, just an anecdote. My old pickup with
part-time 4wd used to take technique to drive in the snow. Since there
was no differential in the transfer case, the front and rear wheels
were driven the same distance all the time. Any give between the two
came from wheel slippage. Thus, it was bad to use on dry pavement.
Also, on snow covered pavement, it was usually the front wheels that
would slide in a turn. Not a terrible out of control thing, it was
just that it really wanted to go straight instead of turning. It could
shift on the fly, so I got fairly adept at using 4wd to get up to
speed, and going back into rwd to make a corner, then getting back into
4wd. With a stickshift truck it looked like a lot of work, but it
I preferred the part time 4wd though, because I used to off-road a
little, and at the time many full time systems with a differential in
the middle didn't have a lock. You could have your front wheels on dry
ground and your back wheels in mud, and your back wheels would spin
with the front not doing much.
These are the types of systems I was referring to, though perhaps
they're not what Matt and Edwin have. In addition to what Ben said,
these systems also tend to increase stopping distance in slippery
Let's also keep in mind that there are significant differences between
"real" 4WD pickup trucks and truck-based SUVs. I would expect that the
former would be good in snow, assuming they had enough weight in the
back and the more aggressive tires that are typical. OTOH, when you try
to "civilize" the platform for SUV use, you give up performance for comfort.
I have a part-time shift-on-the-fly system in my K1500. It steers fine
in snow. The only time I notice the slippage front to rear is making a
full lock turn at slow speed. Anything above 20 MPH it simply isn't
even noticeable if the traction is poor enough to need to be in 4WD.
Why do you think they increase stopping distance? Mine stops the same
or even slightly shorter in 4WD. The reason is that the solid center
differential and locking rear axle act like a poor man's ABS. It makes
it hard to lock the wheels as you have to lock at least three of them.
True, but even with the lesser performance, you are still ahead of FWD cars.
Hmm... I dunno about snow - but on the sandy-dirt roads around here I'm
much better off giving the e-brake a yank when the ABS kicks on during a
panic stop... I wouldn't suggest that maneuver on dry pavement though :)
I agree that in sand or deep snow, locking the wheels is actually
beneficial to stopping distance. However, virtually all other occasions
are better served by incipient lock-up, but not full lock-up.
Can you point me to one? I've never seen such a study or suggestion
that this would be the case. It certainly doesn't correlate to my
exerience and I can't think of a technical reason why it would be the case.
A little more explanation would be helpful Brian. A Blazer for example,
uses the exact same type of power train as its "real" 4WD pickup relative
does. Now, some of the import "SUV's" may be a different story - never
really looked to see what they had for a power train.
Yes, that is true to a large degree, however, some generalizations can
be made, particularly in slushy conditions. I've driven everything from
VW Beetles (the original ones!) to tractor-trailers. A heavier vehicle
is almost always better in slush than a lighter one. A tractor trailer
can drive through 4" of slush and not even know it is on the road from a
stability perspective. My pickup handles 2" with ease. My Beetles got
skittish in 1/2" of slush.
Mike, 300" of snow per year, Im assumeing you must live in the Redfield/ Tug
Hill area. I lived in the Fulton/Mexico area for more years than I care to
remember and thats the only places that get that much snow EVERY FREAKIN
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