Rear Axle Posi... Locked Differentials... Traction Controls... (pickups)

jaclazjaclaz Member Posts: 37
Hi All,

Just curious if a two wheel drive P/U will push thru 6 inches of snow?

Will it stay in a straight line when slowly accelerating on ice from a stop?

Is 4wd really necessary for winter driving?

It adds weight, stops the same as rear drive, and eats more fuel, besides better re-sale is there an advantage?

Thanks, Jack


  • ryanbabryanbab Member Posts: 7,240
    Ok my old 92 S-10 2wd sucked in snow. RWD no locker. Just a little water on the ground makes this thing slide. It would go through snow but not always straight unless you took it at a snails pace.

    My 2000 silverado 4x4 is totally different its hard to get the back to swing and fishtail when in 4 wheel and with a locker.

    The last blizzard 2 yrs ago we had i had my S-10 stuck about a dozen times a few times going into my driveway. SO far i havent had the 4x4 stuck. We got 20 some inches of snow early december and it was great.

    All i know after this winter so far i will never have a 2wd truck again as long as i live.

  • quadrunner500quadrunner500 Member Posts: 2,721
    I survived the ice storms (literally, 22 deaths in Texas alone), in my car with no ABS, no traction control, no air bags, and passed hundreds of trucks and sport utility vehicles, overturned, stuck in drifts etc. Texarkana, Arkansas were even worse.

    ABS, traction control, NOT a panacea.

    Having said that, a two wheel drive pickup truck probably benefits more than any other vehicle from having a limited slip differential on ice. Without it, when one wheel slips, the other pushes it around, making it all too easy to swap ends under light acceleration.

    4wd necessary for winter driving? We've debated that here before. On my 4x4 pickup and suv in Colorado, I've only needed it 3-4 times in five years. No one NEEDS it for driving around in winter time. Everyone CAN benefit in a particular situation, i.e. stopped on a hill, off camber in a parking lot etc. Once you are moving, switch it OFF! If all vehicles require 4x4 to be engaged because of slippery conditions, like trying to make a steep hill, you're going to be stuck anyway, behind the vehicles that won't have it. Knowing when to avoid bad driving situations counts the most.
  • mgdvhmanmgdvhman Member Posts: 4,157
    ...good driver...and perhaps a locker will make a 2WD do just fine...

    Hell...all cars used to be trucks...and they all made it!

    - Tim

    Personally I think all trucks should be 4WD....but it's not a must..(figure that one out)
  • cthompson21cthompson21 Member Posts: 1,102
    4wd is a necessity for me. I need it for the extensive towing I do in the winter with my snowmobiles (read: lots of places with lots of snow). I traded in my last truck because it was 2wd (poor college student and couldn't afford 4wd). It was without the LSD and was completely horrible in the snow.

    But, I think that a 2wd truck with a LSD, a good set of snow tires, and 250lbs of sand over the rear axle would be competent enough as a winter driver for 90% of people. Just don't try to tow anything during the winter or head out in a blizzard or something.
  • k0hbk0hb Member Posts: 89
    I have two trucks out here in the country. A 91 350 SB 4WD (no locker) and a 01 5.3L SB 2WD locker and T/A.

    In deep snow (more than 6 inches) and in muddy weather the 4WD outpulls the 2WD.

    In most other conditions (including ice) the 2WD with locker and T/A outpulls the 4WD. I credit this to the fact that the T/A detects potential wheelspin before I do and modulates the throttle accordingly.
  • bessbess Member Posts: 972
    2wd does just fine for most folks on most roads up to 6in's of snow.. Just put a few hundred pounds in the bed and it will settle the rear and allow it to bite. The driver makes all the difference.. A good driver with 2wd with limited slip rear can almost anywhere folks with a 4wd can go.. There are conditions where 4wd has advantages, like if you have steep hills with snow, or serious off-roading.
    For that matter, some cars with their normal front wheel drive do as well as rear wheel drive trucks, unless the snow is so deep that ground clearance starts making a difference..

    Someone else said it best, it wasn't all that long ago when most vehicles were rear wheel drive, and everyone got along just fine..

    All the above assumes we're talking about snow..
    For travelling during/after ice storms (not snow), it doesn't matter if you have 2wd or 4wd.. The smart person keeps their vehicle in the garage or driveway.
  • gulfguygulfguy Member Posts: 30
    I know 4 WD. I grew up in snow country, first car was a 46 Jeep, since then I wore out a succession of 4WD Wagoneers and pickups with heavy use of the name it.

    Pickups are by nature light in the back and skitish on slick ssurfaces. 90 percent of most folks driving can be done safely in a 2WD pickup by adding a little weight in back and using common sense. It can be a little more hair raising in extremes but at this point in my life I take the attitude that if I can only get there with 4WD its too bad to go and I don't need to make the trip right now.

    A couple of caveats for the uninitiated:

    Ice is ice... doesn't make any difference how many wheels are spinning on it... there is NO traction on glare ice.

    When a 2WD is stuck a little nudge or pull will often free it.

    When you stick a 4 WD its STUCK! If you are the type to see if you can make it you better include a winch and a LONG cable.
  • superjim2000superjim2000 Member Posts: 314
    In snow its fine, made it up the offramp with at least 6" of snow, it was during a snowstorm and the plows had the highways somewhat cleared but not the offramps.

    I also have an electronically controlled auto transmission, put it in 2nd gear from a start and it will start in 2nd, reducing wheelspin when the road gets icy.

    I put weight in the back of my old truck, didnt make a difference. The only weight I carry around is the snow that accumulates in the bed.
  • davidb72davidb72 Member Posts: 174
    My Ranger is 2WD and it is a real pain when it snows. I have 400 lbs of sand in the bed, snow tires all around, a shovel, and a cell phone. The open differential just makes life miserable whenever there is even a little bit of snow or ice or water on the ground. Hell, I got stuck in my sisters driveway last year with less than an inch on the ground. I've considered a Detroit Locker. That was vetoed because it causes (interesting) handling in dry weather. I thought about a "Lock Right" locker, but gave up on that for the same reason. Most factory limited slip axles are great at first, but eventually wear out and you're left with basically an open differential. The one product I would probably go with if my truck was newer is the ARB Air Locker. This is one you can control from the cab, an air compressor under your hood supplies compressed air to LOCK the rear end when you need traction. Then, when you are out you can just flip a switch and operate it as an open differential. That is a product that really intrigues me, it is a little pricey, but I think my next vehicle will have it installed when it is new.
  • greg116greg116 Member Posts: 116
    I was living in Victoria Canada four years ago during the blizzard of '96. We got five feet of snow dumped on a city that usually sees little more than rain and the occasional flurry. We lived on a cul-de-sac of eight houses, all ecxept ours occupied by the elderly, and we had the only 4x4 on the street: my father's '96 GMC 2500 company truck. It was a lifesaver, and the only thing that left that street for nearly a week. We did grocery shopping and even prescription medication that wouldve been impossible for these very nice people to obtain otherwise. 4x4 is a religion, and I'm a believer.
  • keith24keith24 Member Posts: 93
    it CAN, in some instances, be more of a hindrance than a help. Now, let me say that, I will not, under any circumstances, ever be without a 4wd vehicle of some sort. It all boils down to knowing what your 4wd will & won't do! Case in point:

    About a year ago, Arkansas saw one of the worst snowstorms in 12 years. Thinking ahead, I drove my old International Scout to work. That way, if I needed 4wd I'd have it, and if I had to put one in the ditch, I'd rather ditch my old hunting rig rather than my car.

    I'd pulled over on the side of the interstate, kinda in a ditch, in a foot of snow, to clean the snow & ice off my windshield. I'd had it in 4wd "just-in-case". When I went to pull back out on the freeway, the front end kept digging in & going straight instead of turning up & out of the ditch like I "thought" it should! When I kicked it out of 4wd, it turned up & out like there wasn't any snow at all.

    Just goes to show you that in SOME instances, 4wd isn't all its cracked up to be! Now, I did use 4wd that day. The way traffic was, I used it to keep from sliding sideways into other cars beside me. But it sure almost got me into a heap of trouble in that ditch! The ditch got really deep really quick! Had a big culvert in it, too!
  • jaclazjaclaz Member Posts: 37
    Thanks for all the input! I live in the mountains. The gas mileage eaten up by the 4WD, the extra weight and the maintenance required seems to be almost unnecessary for most applications. I thought as much. Just a good set of tires and careful application of winter skills will work just fine when traversing these roads on 6 inches of new snow.

    Good Luck to you all, Jack
  • saarisaari Member Posts: 11
    Hi , I use 4 wheel drive alot in my job as rural mail carrier. My last three vehicals are 4x4. We allways have one wheel in the rut and in winter thats where the ice builds up first. I have a mud season also on the dirt roads and it really comes in handy there too!
  • lariat1lariat1 Member Posts: 461
    If you live where there is a lot of snow and ice a 4WD is in order. I live in Alaska and e drive on icy roads for 6 months a year. Most of the time if you are driving a truck in town you are in $WD just to get moving (it is fustrating to sit at a stoplight with your rear tires spinning and you havent even touched the gas).If you live where it snows 2 or three times a year and it doesnt stick around to long a 2WD will do.
  • quadrunner500quadrunner500 Member Posts: 2,721
    Since El Nino, we really haven't had much snow in Colorado. I haven't needed 4WD in two years. The locking rear differential works great most of the time. I often wonder, when the roads are just barely wet, how many people have 4WD switched on?

    But when you need it, you NEED it. Last week I needed 4x4 in a big way. It was champagne powder, but drifted nearly waist deep in places. To get to this spot, I gunned the engine, blasted through drifts and ruts until it was safe to stop, get it turned around and pointed downhill as shown here.


  • erikheikererikheiker Member Posts: 230
    I know of people who engage their 4WD in October and disengage it in April. Personally, I think that's a terrible idea and that will just cause premature wear. On my old truck I only engaged 4WD to get started, and then I went to 2WD. Right after a good snow I would leave it in 4WD because I knew there would be enough slippage to prevent excessive wear. On my new truck, I just use AutoTrak unless I'm cruising for a bit. Then I go back to 2WD. Of course, once the streets clear up, I keep it in 2WD. I had my 89 for 11.5 years and never had to do anything to the drive train.
  • alexrod1alexrod1 Member Posts: 7
    I love my 99F150, but finally decided to upgrade to a 2001 4W drive (on order). Got tired of always being on of the last ones to get out of our employee parking space - with only about 5 inches of snow (also on my driveway too). The last straw was two Mondays ago, almost got hit by a bus, while I was doing about 15 miles an hour on snowy/icy road, my truck began to turn sideways! Always have 360 lbs of sand, seems to not help too much. If you get snow and you like trucks, I'd go for the 4x4's. I wish I DID 2 years ago.
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