All wheel drive wad

I just bought a 2007 Toyota rav4 with all wheel drive. We live near buffalo ny, therefore we get a lot of snow. This is our first all wheel drive vehicle. The first time it got its test was in our driveway with a foot of snow. It got stuck. The tires were spinning and it wouldn’t move. Even after we pressed the differential lock button it wouldn’t move. I’ve owned 4x4 vehicles before, none would have got stuck in the situation I was in. Is the car not working right or is this the way it is with all wheel drive?

The missing part of the equation is the type of tires that the car is equipped with, and the amount of tread on those tires. Yes, AWD will provide more traction than 2WD, but ultimately, your tires determine how much traction you will have.

If I lived in an area like Buffalo, which is renowned for snow, I would spend the money for a set of good quality winter tires (the term “snow tire” now represents outdated technology, as winter tires are effective on ice, as well as snow), and I can personally recommend the top-rated Michelin X-Ice tires.

Now that I am retired, I have the luxury of not going anywhere if I choose to stay at home until the roads have been cleared. But, during my working years, I did use winter tires on my AWD Outback, in order to be able to get to work in the wee hours of the morning, and to get to my elderly parents’ home whenever it was necessary.

While the Rav’s AWD system is not as effective as that of an Audi or a Subaru, if you buy a set of winter tires mounted on their own wheels, you will have no problem getting around on wintery roads. And, if you don’t want to have to change from one set of tires to another, then I recommend a set of Goodyear Fortera Triple-Tred tires. These are the only all-season tires that I know of which have the “mountain peak/snowflake” symbol on the sidewall, indicating that they are recognized as a winter tire. A close friend of mine uses these Triple-Treds on his Rav, and he has had no problems with snow or ice.

I’m sure that the tires on your Rav are labeled as “all season” tires, but–in reality–most “all season” tires are not particularly effective in winter conditions. In fact, I can recall having a set of “all season” Bridgestones that were downright hazardous in the winter, due to almost zero traction, and that is what led me to buy a set of Michelin X-Ice tires in the first place.

Don’t believe the “all-season” hype unless a tire has the universal “mountain peak/snowflake” symbol on the sidewall.

with a foot of snow. It got stuck.

You were hung up or your tires were poor or both.
Also, unless something was wrong, the lock allows both front and rear to work equally and the still activated traction control works left to right. If all 4 wheels were spinning, what do you have to complain about ? ( with all due respect) The car can only do so much and the driver must be realistic and use the right tires (snow tires) or not get hung up. It only has about 7 plus inches of clearance on a good day without weight in it !!!

If you had a 4wd truck type vehicle, it had higher clearance over a solid axle with out the unibody dragging floorpan…it’s a car, not an off roader. Now on ice and moderate conditions, with good tires, it will run circles around old style 4 by 4. 12 inches are considered “off road conditions” IMO.

We have a RAV also as well as a truck type vehicle and that’s what it is…“betch ya” The RAV won’t do as well as in deep snow as the truck…A RAV is not a true truck based SUV but a slightly raised Corolla/Camry. So we must be realistic about it’s capabilities.

Would u expect your old car to get up driveway in 1 ft of snow? So u think ur suv is magical?

If all four tires were spinning, the AWD was doing its job. As everyone is saying, you need to focus on the tires now. What brand and model are they? How much tread do they have?

One of the big misconceptions is that awd and decent ground clearamce on a unibody car frame will take you through hard going. 8 inches of clearance under a car like Subaru, Rav, Escape, CRV is no where near as much as 8 inches under the pumpkin of a pick up truck or truck based SUV. You start floating when the snow/ mud hits the floor pan and frame and even snow tires may not help enough. There could be as much as 6 inches or more in functional clearance difference in these vehicle types.

So, don’t be fooled with almost useless ground clearance specs of car based awd SUVs. They are cars built for moderate conditions…12 inches is often too much, especially if the snow is heavy and wet.

Yep,fraid so-its not the cars fault,an honest foot of snow will hang my 4x4 Dakota up easily(because it gets under the skid plates and jacks the vehicle up) I noticed my brothers old F-150 with tires that werent probaly as big,went much better in deep snow,due to more weight and very little underneath to jack it up(no skid plates) so the vehicle itself does matter,but the little Rav 4 should be fine on ice or moderate snow-Kevin

Thanks for the helpful tips.

Agree about the tires. My brother (Hummer H3) and a friend (Honda CRV) both had a similar problem.

@VDCdriver I had my friend buy the Goodyear TripleTreds. She loves the improved tradition/handling a big improvement over the OEM tires (she only had 20,000 miles on her vehicle).

The Goodyear Triple Treds are a bit noisy, but that is to be expected with a tire that is rated for winter conditions. All-around, it is a very good tire in terms of ride, dry & wet road handling, winter traction, and tread wear. The only thing about it that I can criticize is the noise level.

Tires do make all the difference. Many years ago on a snowy day I pushed a stuck AWD Mercedes out of trouble with my humble RWD Ford LTD I had at the time. The guy I helped was flabbergasted that I had traction and he didn’t. The difference was I had brand new tires and his were apparently not so good.

We live in one of the few areas that gets more snow than Buffalo (Syracuse). We live on a short cul-de-sac off of a circular drive; needless to say we are low on plowing priority. We put Goodyear triple treads on our 2010 RAV4 this fall and love them. Nothing stopped us, even when the snow was coming up over the front hood. Actually, even in a couple feet of snow, we did not engage the 4WD mode… We also drove the same car to Florida in Feb, and had not issues with excessive noise (although they were slightly noisier than the OEM tires), and even in heavy rains were impressed with their performance. They were expensive, but certainly worth looking at.

Autocar did a test showing how snow tires are more effective than 4WD.

@KiwiME. With all due respect, Autocar showing “snow tires are more effective then 4wd” or Awd is like showing shoes are more effective then feet…

Tests like this show us nothing that we don’t already know… Winter tires give ALL cars better stopping and cornering in winter conditions and you can’t compare awd to fwd with different tires. It’s like putting ice grippers on me, a senior citizen and saying I can out run and corner better on ice better then an Olympic sprinter with street shoes. A totally unscientific comparison. It also negates that acceleration on ice and snow is also a safety factor when merging.

The scientific way would be to conduct 4 tests, with each of the 2 cars twice, using both sets of tires.
You would then not see mixed results. Awd WITH snow tires would be far superior to fwd with snow tires in every respect including cornering and engine braking if both had stability control. (which all cars are mandated with) Throw going up a hill in snow or cornering at the same time, in there as part of the test and fwd is at a total loss compared to Awd with the same tires. Guess no one has hills anymore for that to be included in the test ?

Just goes to show you that not everyone with an accent can be trusted and we get these invalid comparison tests frequently from publications.

Rav’s experience is a better indication of what Awd with good tires is capable of…would a fwd car be as capable ?
I think not.

@dagosa, not all of us live where it can snow for almost 6 months of the year. This is news to much of the US population. For people that live here in the sunny south and move to your snowy north, it is a good primer. And the test showed exactly what we need to know. We can presume that 4WD would be at least as good as 2WD in the stopping and skid pad test since the SUVs are otherwise identical, plus it adds better traction to get going.

I hear where you are coming from. But the testing method is totally invalid and the conclusion is obvious. Winter tires enhance winter traction in all cars. If you are going to mix and match cars and tires and not include all combinations you invalidate any conclusion. That’s how worthwhile testing works…check Tire Rack tests that compare all combinations.

You and I agree that if you only occasion face snow, Awd is over kill. But, nothing changes the simple fact that even on that one day you have a storm, Awd with snow tires is far superior to fwd with the same tires.
Then, choosing Awd and snow tires becomes the kind of an issue it should …economics and not performance.

I repeat one thing that all winter tire only boosters fail to have …l.lwhere are the HILLS ? going up hills and turning separates the men fom the boys…Awd from fwd regardless of tires.

A good primer for those moving north is fwd vs fwd with snow tires, then Awd vs Awd with snow tires. Let them see all the facts.


Isn’t it just as obvious without a test that AWD with snow tires is better than FWD with snow tires? The video answers a basic question that many of us warm-area types have wondered about for ages. We are not all snow tire know-it-alls!

@dagosa, it’s all obvious to you because the 1st 2 weeks of August is bad sledding weather. Here in the sunny south, we just don’t get it. This isn’t knowledge we get through genetic coding. Everyone has to learn this some time. Sun bathers like me in the Lower 30 hardly need to know about snow tires.

@jtsanders and this video will not educate you.
The title of the video was “snow tyres vs 4wd” right there is a fault as you don’t compare,tires,with cars!!!

Then, it went on to test a fwd car with snow tires vs a 4wd car without. Not only that, but the difference in snow traction of non snow tires varies so much, that a 4 wd with AT tires or tires like all season triple treads would have run circles around a fwd car with some snow tires in snow conditions.
If you are from the south, simpleton tests like these cause confusion and don’t educate. Because of these tests there are regular contributors here that say NO ONE needs Awd or 4wd ever…and they just don’t know how dramatically driving conditions that demand these awd cars, can vary with the terrain…hills especially.

And the article never ran a hill test !!!

Actually, even in a couple feet of snow, we did not engage the 4WD mode…

Um, it does it without you. You may not have pushed the 4WD Lock button or whatever, but it automatically sends torque to both ends of the car once any wheel spins more than slightly, which yours definitely would have.