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BMW 3-Series - AWD or RWD?

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  • IME, AWD is a benefit in any kind of adverse weather (rain, snow, in between, and just wet road.) I've avoided 2 head on collisions on freeways (both cars going about 80 MPH in opposite directions) in my modified AWD WRX. I'm pretty sure the AWD saved me, scratchless, from both- one due to black ice, the other due to heavy rain and other car's hydroplaning. Don't think you "won't need" AWD- Ya, not until it's too late!
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,353
    I had one similar emergency maneuver in my 330xi when I had to accelerate and go lock/lock to avoid being hit in the side from a van making a left turn from the right lane of a two lane highway, no signal. I was lucky enough that there was no on-coming traffic at that instant because I was into the far lane on the other side of the double-yellow and was able to get back quick. Speed was around 30 MPH before the knucklehead turned in. Weather was bone dry.

    The car just did not let go on any tire and I avoided the collision. Not to say I could not have done it in RWD car but I will never know.

    Regards,
    OW
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I highly doubt that you can prove that AWD saved you when compared to an otherwise similar RWD car with skid control and other modern electronics. You can believe it if you want, but I certainly don't.

    If you need to manuver, then leave the front wheel alone to do their job, namely to turn. Said another way, give me the option of either a 335i and winter tires or a 335xi with all seasons and I'll pick the former here in New England every time.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    There is clearly a division of opinion regarding AWD.

    Best - AWD with 4 snows.
    Better - AWD with good all seasons.
    OK - RWD with snows.
    Stinks- RWD with all seasons.

    My opinion is based on years of driving having tried each one of the above.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Based upon my experience up here in New Hampshire, I'd make a couple of minor changes to your list:

    Best - AWD with 4 snows.
    Better - RWD with snows.
    OK - AWD with good all seasons.
    Fair (especially if terrain is relatively flat) - RWD with all seasons.
    Sucketh - AWD with summer rubber.
    Sucketh much - RWD with summer rubber.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • xeyexeye Posts: 162
    OK, my turn. This is bound to stimulate a response, especially from Shipo!

    Having learned how to drive in the worst conditions in Montreal (with all due respect, New Hampshire, while getting a lot of snow, is Disneyland when compared to crappy driving conditions in Montreal), I am qualified to offer the definitive tires for the given conditions.

    Best - AWD with 4 snows. AGREED
    Better - AWD with good all seasons. We'll see on the 335xi. I have the ContiProContact M&S. I'd rather have 4 snows, but I'll report honestly after deep snow, slush, ice.
    Better - RWD with snows. On ice only. I'd rather be in a wild fishtail on RWD snows than AWD.

    On snow? No Way.


    Fair (especially if terrain is relatively flat) - RWD with all seasons.
    Sucketh - AWD with summer rubber.
    Sucketh much - RWD with summer rubber.

    On another note, I need an opinion:

    After conversation with the Service Director of my sales dealership where I bought my 335xi, he could not find a technician who could explain why the 335xi does not get an oil cooler when the 335i does. He therefore, graciously, offered to finance one if I so choose. He agreed to my request to put it in writing on dealership letterhead.

    So far (~2100 miles), the car has behaved well, no overheating and the oil has been consistently below 250. Do I mess with something that isn't broken or go for the cooler and risk issues where there aren't any now? I don't race and my driving, although moderately "spirited", is not geared to attract attention, if you get my point.

    Still, I want the protection that a properly installed oil cooler would provide. Are there any issues with installing an oil cooler in less than racing conditions?

    Comments?

    xeye
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    By finance, do you mean he'll pay for it? If so, then go for it. There is no down side to adding an extra oil cooler, and the benefits in engine life could be dramatic.

    BTW, I also learned how to drive in Montreal (DDO/Pointe Claire actually). My dad taught me in a 1979 Honda Civic 5-speed. I took my exam during a blizzard in a Chrysler K car (High School drivers ed car).
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    The problem I have with putting an all-season shod AWD car ahead of a winter tire shod RWD car is that the only category where the AWD car will outperform the RWD sibling is in acceleration. The RWD car will still accelerate moderately well, however, it will turn and stop WAY better than the AWD car given the greater bite of the winter tires.

    True story, shortly after putting the winter tires (Michelin Arctic-Alpins) on my 530i, we were in the midst of a twenty some inch snow fall with widely scattered power outages predicted. With between eight and ten heavily rutted inches of snow on the roads I headed out in the 530i to fetch gasoline for our generator. Once on the main road I passed a whole line of FWD cars struggling to climb a hill, not to mention a Crown Vic patrol car stuck in the ditch on the opposite side of the road. Once clear of those obstructions, I had clear sailing for the next couple of miles up the winding and hilly road, until I got slowed down by a line of 4WD SUVs that were fishtailing and/or sliding all over the place.

    If you haven't driven a late model BMW in the snow, deep snow even, with a set of good winter tires, you simply cannot imagine how stable winter driving can be.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • xeyexeye Posts: 162
    Hi,

    Yes, I should have been clear. Either the dealership or BMW will pay for the cooler. I'm not sure which, but either way, it's not me. I guess my only concern is a botched job and making the current benign situation a nagging headache.

    I suppose I have to assume they'll do a proper job and decide solely on the merits of the cooler.

    xeye
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    "The problem I have with putting an all-season shod AWD car ahead of a winter tire shod RWD car is that the only category where the AWD car will outperform the RWD sibling is in acceleration."

    I couldn't disagree more. In deep snow having 2 wheels push and 2 wheels pull, even without snows, provides better traction than having 2 wheels push.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,353
    Having driven in 16"-20" of unplowed snow last year, AWD with AS tires were fantastic in acceleration, stopping and turning. I am sure the winter tires would be even better. Actually stopping power is what amazed most me knowing the lesser snow capability of the AS tires. The handling was always there in the wet as well as light snow and slush.

    Regards,
    OW
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Uhhh, I don't understand what your saying. I believe that I stated that the All-Season shod AWD car would out accelerate the Winter tire shod RWD car. Aren't you saying the same thing?

    My issue is that AWD does absolutely nothing for stopping (except that the added weight makes stops LONGER), and as such, the winter tire equipped RWD car will always stop shorter than the all-season AWD car. Turning will also tilt the advantage to the properly set-up RWD car as the turning tires will have more bite than the relatively slippery front tires of the AWD car.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Lemme get this straight. You drove in twenty inches of unplowed snow, snow that was very nearly up to the top of the radiator grill? Either that stuff was VERY POWDERY or you went about ten feet before you got stuck. :P

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,353
    Very powdery and drifts to 20". There were nothing on the roads but 4WD and the plows at the time. Most roads had at least 8" of packed, rutted snow and the hotel I drove around had at least 16-20" of virgin snow without any icy base.

    Regards,
    OW
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Ahhh, I see. FWIW, that would have been no problem at all in any RWD BMW with winter tires either. ;-)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,353
    No doubt. I am sure that the capability is the same. It's the "training wheels" thing for me and the frugality to stretch the AS RFT's! :)

    Regards,
    OW
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    No I am not talking about acceleration. I am talking about the ability for the car not to get stuck in certain types of deep snow conditions.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Then I submit to you that the RWD car with winter tires would be the overall safer bet to drive in the winter time, hence my ranking it just behind the AWD car with Winter tires.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    That's where we disagree. Hence my ranking AWD with good all-seasons better than RWD with snows.
  • Having learned how to drive in the worst conditions in Montreal (with all due respect, New Hampshire, while getting a lot of snow, is Disneyland when compared to crappy driving conditions in Montreal),

    Check your weather statistics and then check your ego. Montreal averages 215cm of annual snowfall, about 85" for us metric challenged Yankees. Syracuse averages 110", Buffalo over 90". Concord New Hampshire is a rather mild 64", but Mt. Washington is over 250" a year and if you are close to or north of it, you are over 100".

    Montreal doesn't come close to the snowfall those of us who have endured Cornell or the University of Sryacuse have had to put up with (I was a visiting guest professor at both in my younger years, before global warming). I have spent a fair time in Montreal, Quebec and Toronto as well. Nice cities, all of them.

    After conversation with the Service Director of my sales dealership where I bought my 335xi, he could not find a technician who could explain why the 335xi does not get an oil cooler when the 335i does.

    You won't find this posted on BMW's web site, but after looking into the oil cooler issue myself (my nephew has an early build 335i in which the oil cooler was installed after delivery) the reason given to me by a senior BMW manager was that they don't consider the 335ix a model that is likely be tracked (and therefore run at high rpms for extended periods). In his words (paraphrased) BMW did not design the 335ix to be as "serious" of high performance sport sedan as the 335i sedan/coupe. Even equiped with a sport package, the suspension and tires are "detuned" compared to the non-x full sport package.

    And, sure enough, my nephew who has now taken two BMW performance driving school and gone to three different tracks on several occasions on "BMW day" has only met one single 335ix owner compared to dozens of 335i and even 328i owners.

    The good news is that there have been almost no overheating issues with cars that are not tracked, so you shouldn't have any problems in normal driving. If you do plan on going to the track, you might want to consider taking up the dealer on their offer. But you will be pretty lonely, from what I understand.
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