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4x4 vs. 4x2



  • gobeangobean Posts: 8
    In reality us Arizonans know a bit about snow its not unheard of to go up north and play in the snow and back to the desert and go swimming. Snowblind and sunburn in the same day. (no pun intended on the snowblind)
  • gwmooregwmoore Posts: 230
    Growing up, I always had a 4wd ('77 F-150 4wd, CJ-7, CJ-5, '73 Bronco). Needless to say, I played around with them alot in high school. Tested them to the limit. And had to call upon my 4wd friends to pull me out when I got stuck. That's how you learn the limits.

    Now we have a whole new batch of pickup/SUV buyers that never had 4wd when they grew up. Never learned the limits. Now when I'm crawling around when I know the conditions require it, even with 4wd, those new guys are sitting in the snow bank, pissed because their 4wd must have failed.

    The funniest thing I've ever seen is during the incredible freezing rain we get up here in Oregon. The wind can push parked cars across parking lots. You need to wear golf cleats to walk. There were 4wd pickups and SUVs every 100 yards piled up on the shoulder and center median. In those conditions, the ultimate vehicle (although you really shouldn't be driving at all, but you know humans, we always find a way to justify it) is a Subaru with studs.
  • BrutusBrutus Posts: 1,113
    We had our first snow that stuck up here in Anchorage earlier this week and it's snowing again now. It's a great time of the year if you have 4wd. I've heard input from several people who live in snow country and own 2wd pickups, but there is no way that they are safer. Even with studded tires and sand bags, the potential to fish tail is much greater. It's also just harder to push all of that weight than to pull and push it. The 2wd trucks up here have trouble getting out into traffic safely and they drive much slower on the roads, almost to the point of being dangerous to other commuters. It's not that it can't be done, but it certainly can't be done as safely.

    With that said, I agree that you see alot of 4wd vehicles in the ditches. Experience and knowing your vehicles limitations are the key. Everyone should take their vehicles on empty rural side roads or large parking lots and just practice quick accelarations, fast turns, and braking on snow and ice. These are not things that you will necessarily want to do on crowded streets, but if you know what your vehicle can do, you have a much better chance of reacting in the right way and possibly avoiding an accident in an emergency situation if confronted with one, such as someone pulling out in front of you or sliding through an intersection.

    There are a few keys to helping you avoid getting into accidents and staying out of the ditch with a 4wd:

    First, remember that your vehicle doesn't stop any faster. You've got leave plenty of room in front of you, even if you're normally used to tailgating in the summer.

    Second, you can't regain control any better if you lose control at hwy speeds, so you have to make very gradual lane changes on the hwy and you need to build speed gradually. The unforgivable sin at hwy speeds is breaking traction.

    Third, when in doubt, take your foot off the gas and avoid hitting the brakes. If you lock the brakes (anti-lock brakes lock on ice), not only are you not stopping, you also have no control over the direction you are heading.

    If you keep these things in mind, the chances of putting your 4wd in a ditch or getting in an accident are greatly reduced. If ypu've got a 2wd rear wheel drive truck, there are way too many winter driving precautions to list. It can be done and is done all the time, but like I said, it's a lot more dangerous to you and the other drivers on the road.
  • RoclesRocles Posts: 985
    Two-wheel drive is more tricky but for the vast majority out there who can't justify the price; they have to be more careful. That doesn't mean that they are any more dangerous. I've seen more reckless driving from 4x4s than two wheel drivers.
  • meredithmeredith Posts: 578
    "Magical thinking"....

    to repost one of my periodic rants on this subject:.... (climbing on his soapbox and risking a serious nosebleed from the height)

    we have a serious problem in this country with "magical thinking"....

    Afraid of being constrained by bad weather? Buy an SUV/4WD, ignore the operating limitations of the vehicle, then drive it as if there was no bad weather, and be amazed and outraged when the vehicle wrecks as a result of "driver error". After all you paid GOOD MONEY so you WOULDN'T HAVE TO THINK about slowing down or controlling the vehicle in the bad driving conditions. You PAID for the MAGIC TALISMAN and it DIDN'T WORK! How DARE it!

    Afraid of crime? Buy a gun! Which is of course just a tool. Don't bother to take shooting lessons or learn to use the tool safely and effectively. You paid GOOD MONEY for the MAGIC TALISMAN! When the criminal takes it away from you and you become another statistic?.... How DARE it!

    Alternatively, blame all crime on the possession of the MAGIC TALISMAN (i.e. gun) by the wrong sorts of people (you know who THEY are....) just ban the MAGIC TALISMAN and the crime will magically disappear. And when it doesn't... find an excuse for restricting the possession of MAGIC TALISMAN's even further. After all YOUR SIMPLISTIC MAGICAL THINKING" couldn't be WRONG could it?....

    Pant, pant, pant.... Climbing carefully down from the soap box, and wiping at the bloody nose...

    Front Porch Philosopher
    SUV, Pickups, & Aftermarket and Accessories Host
  • Brutus, couldn't agree with you more, great summary.

    Rocles, fair point, idiots are idiots regardless of what they drive.

    Meredith - wow, remind me not to upset you (again).
  • gwmooregwmoore Posts: 230
    I really can't believe anyone actually argues that 2wd is just as safe as 4wd. Gee, I bet the army boys get their tanks and Hum-vees stuck during war games pretty often, maybe they should make them 2wd. An extreme example, but makes the point. If the two vehicles are driven the same way, I wonder which (4wd or 2wd) is going to be in more control? Because some people drive their 4wd trucks like idiots doesn't mean they arent safer than a 2wd.
  • BrutusBrutus Posts: 1,113
    When factoring the extra cost of the 4wd vs the 2wd, remember to factor in the extra cost of the second set of tires that you buy for the winter driving and, of course, the periodic replacement of those tires. On the other hand, I guess your summer tires last longer. You still have to pay to have them mounted and balanced twice a year. I run on All-Terrains year round.

    The one factor that remains constant in 4wd and 2wd vehicles is the driver. When you see a 4wd in the ditch, do you suppose the driver would have been any less cocky in his 2wd? A ditch diver is a ditch diver.

    With that said, even the safest driver can end up in a ditch. It happens in snow country. I've been fortunate to stay out of the ditches. The last time I went into a ditch in the snow was about 19 years ago, with my rear wheel drive 70 GTO. I was an inexperienced 17 year old with way too many horses under the hood and way too much confidence behind the wheel. How does the Bob Dylan song go? I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.....
  • RoclesRocles Posts: 985
    4x4s are a nice luxury but ultimately the driver determines the relative safety of the vehicle. I've owned a 4x4 personally only for a few years. I grew up driving two-wheel drive cars/trucks and learned the ropes the hard way in winter. The good thing is that I'm still as cautious as I was even with the 4x4.
    Drivers as a whole are getting worse regardless of safety features and conditions. It is entirely too easy to get a license let alone keeping it! It seems like technology can't catch up to the lowering standards of the drivers themselves.
  • BrutusBrutus Posts: 1,113
    My first 4wd was an AMC Eagle in 1987. I drove it for about a year and then went to a front wheel drive Mazda 626 before getting my 92 F-250 4x4. When I got my license at 16 up here in Alaska, the two vehicles I drove were a rear wheel drive Chevette and a GMC full size van, and eventually the GTO. I've had lots of experience with rear wheel drives in snow country, which is why I'm bias to 4wd or front wheel drive. A front wheel drive with good rubber (and preferably studs) gets along almost as a good as a 4wd.
  • I have read with interest all of the 4x2 vs 4x4 discussion. I recently purchased a 2000 Ford Ranger 4x2. I've driven a front wheel drive car for as long as I can remember, and I am just curious as to how my truck will behave differently in the snow. How much weight should I put in the bed? Any suggestions you could give me would be appreciated--I would like to avoid being "that guy" stuck in a ditch. Thanks!
  • gwmooregwmoore Posts: 230
    I'ld guess a couple hundred pounds of sand bags would be good. Depends on the truck. Extended cab trucks have more weight over the rear end than standard trucks, giving better balance. it makes a difference if the engine is large or small for the truck, a large engine will tip the weight forward. A canopy will help. put the weight toward the tailgate, the weight will be more effective than if its next to the cab, and you will need less. remember, you want enough weight to keep you from fishtailing when accellerating, but too much will really hurt your braking. If you are going to be using the box much during the winter, divide the weight up on both sides of the bed near the tailgate so you can easily move in an out. take a bunch of sand out to a big parking lot or other flat safe area on the first slippery day and do trial and error. Good Luck and Be Safe.
  • BrutusBrutus Posts: 1,113
    There is a huge difference in the snow between a 2wd and a 4wd. Your rear tires are pushing the truck. All of the weight is in the front. The rear tires will almost certainly spin when you are trying to push all that weight. The tendency is for the rear to fishtail to one side or the other.

    In a front wheel drive vehicle, the weight of the engine and even your weight and your pasengers weight are putting downward pressure on the tires that are moving, so they are basically serving as your sandbags. Those weighted down front tires are pulling a very light rearend fairly effortlessly. There is no potential to fishtail because the rear is what fishtails and it is just being dragged along behind the truck. There is no engine power headed to the rear tires to cause them to spin.

    I would definitely put a couple hundred pounds of sand bags in the back and see how it feels. If you don't live in snow country and only encounter snow a couple times per year, you likely have nothing to worry about. Just exercise extra caution. If you do live in snow country, you definitely want to get good snow tires, and preferably studs if your state allows them.

    If you're sitting on an icy or snowy hill stopped at a traffic light with a rear wheel drive truck, it's always a possibility that the light rear of the truck won't be able to get enough traction to get the truck rolling. I've seen alot of people have to back down a hill, which can get hairy in traffic. If you find yourself unexpectedly in that situation, before you come to a stop, try to get the tires on one side of your vehicle (usually the passenger curbside over onto the side of the road where you might be able to get some traction in snow or dirt as opposed to ice only. When you start, don't gun it. You want to give it just a very little amount of gas and try to get the tires rolling without spinning them, if possible.

    You won't end up in the ditch as long as you know what your vehicle can do. As I mentioned before, breaking traction on the hwy is the biggest culprit. Since you have so little weight in the back of a pickup, it doesn't take much of an acceleration to break traction and fishtail. You can fishtail on a side road at low speeds and stay in control. If you backend slips out from under you at 40+mph, you're likely SOL. It's just a matter of waiting until the vehicle stops, hopefully on the hwy, but in a worst case scenario, hopefully in a ditch as opposed to hitting another vehicle.

    I've seen a few people get really lucky and do a 360 in the middle of the road and not hit anyone or go in the ditch. It doesn't happen often. On the other hand, just last winter, I saw someone hit the meridian ditch, do a complete rollover on the roof and land back on his wheels. Both people were seatbelts and walked away from it. The vehicle (a suburban) wasn't so lucky.

    So on the hwy with a rear wheel vehicle, you need to be really cautious getting up to speed. Get in the right lane, and take your time getting up to speed. Lane changes need to be really gradual. We have had snow on the ground for a couple of weeks now. I was in 4wd the first couple days, but we haven't had any real snow lately 9just a light dusting), so I have been in 2wd. I exercise all of the things I just mentioned. I actually exercise all of those things in 4wd, although the confidence factor is much higher. I have ESOF (Electronic Shift on the Fly), so I occasionally shift into 4wd at an icy intersection if there is a lot of traffic.
  • meredithmeredith Posts: 578
    As a result of 30 or more days of inactivity....

    this topic is being "frozen." It will be archived or deleted in the next 10 days or so.

    Front Porch Philosopher
    SUV, Pickups, & Aftermarked and Accessories Host
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