Driving in snow

Hello, my wife got a job delivering newspapers to stores, it pays good money.
However she needs to deliver then no matter the weather.
There is one route over a mountain that is scaring her.
She currently drives a 2006 Dodge caravan thatndoesn’t have anti lock brakes, traction control etc.
I was thinking of either getting her snow tires for the caravan or a AWD vehicle.
She needs a lot of room, the caravan is pretty full some days even with all the seats out.
We were looking at a Ford Escape, they have a good amount of room with the seats folded.
Also gas mileage is a consideration since she drives about 100 miles a day on this route.
Does anyone have a suggestion?
Should we spring for a Ford escape AWD or would snow tires on the Caravan be enough?
Or maybe a new Caravan with traction control anti-lock brakes, and stability control .

Where do you live?

Orange county, NY

The Catskills!! This can be treacherous area to navigate during the winter.

If you look at my other posts in this forum…I rarely see the need for cars to ever need snow tires. Most areas in the country just don’t get enough snow to warrant it. I’ve driven in this area in the winter…while it doesn’t get the snow like area’s around the great lakes…it does get a good amount of snow and at times you even get lake effect bands from Ontario. With that said…get rid of the Caravan and get a 4wd vehicle with good Snow tires or AT tires. 4wd is going to better then AWD…FWD won’t cut it if your wife is doing a lot of driving in the Mountains.

Orange County isn’t far outside of NYC, and the roads shouldn’t get that bad. However, if you’re concerned about her and/or that mountain road scares her, AWD with good winter tires is the way to go.

I’d suggest picking up a Consumer Reports New Car Buyer’s Guide at the local bookstore. They’ll have all the available options on the market along with lots of good information to help you do a comparison. Pick some that look good to her and spend a weekend test driving.

You should be good to go with a set of 4 winter tires, not 2, get all 4. 4 tires means she can stop and steer and the ride over the mountain will be safe. AWD is overkill, the winter tires will make a huge difference.

AWD is overkill, the winter tires will make a huge difference.

UncleTurbo…Have you ever driven in this area during the winter???

MikeinNH obviously has encountered conditions that make 2wd cars and trucks ineffective, even with the best of tires. With all due respect, Uncleturbo will not be there to dig you out ! Nor will I. I side with Mike and Same and agree with everything each has said. …try an awd out in snow at the very least, then decide.

Yes, you can go places with snow tires on 2wd that an awd without can’t. Please,don’t make that false argument and instead, equip all cars in snow country with snow tires in winter. Awd cars so equipped become unstoppable compared to 2wd. The difference is laughable to those trying to even make the comparison. BTW, throwing the weight of lots of newspapers in the back of a fwd vehicle further degrades it’s handling and hill climbing much more than any other drive system…another huge reason to go with awd in slippery conditions.

MikeInNH - I’ve owned an AWD Volvo wagon. Lousy with regular tires, awesome in snow with Nokian winter tires. I’ve driven all over NYS (Ithaca, Syracuse, Rochester, Albany), Vermont, upper Michigan, in all kinds of cars FWD, RWD, and AWD. I’ve driven in areas where you needed a flag on your radio antenna to be seen due to snow drifts and piles of snow. So Yes, and I’ve driven exactly where the OP resides, it ain’t that bad. Right now I live about 70 due west of OP in the Pocono mountains.

Subaru Forester

“tecman”, after retracing your post, the comment about getting snow tires OR an awd vehicle keeps sticking out. I hope regardless of your choice of drive train, you get snow tires. Awd cars and trucks need IMO, snow tires more than fwd with their added capability. You will drive them faster in snow and take them out in worse conditions. They need the stopping and turning traction more…like a Vette needs better performance tires then a Focus. I think we all can agree upon that. You also have a weight issue that may be better served by a truck based or larger car based SUV.

Yes, I would plan to get snow tires even if I had AWD.
I guess God already decided for us, with up to 7 inches of snow due on Saturday I am headed out today at lunch to buy snow tires, Michelin x ice.
They are a bit expensive at 153 a tire installed but I have heard they are the best.
The 2006 Caravan only had 68,000 miles, so I hate to trade it in and we can’t afford a car payment right now.

Wow. Everyone is missing the point.

  1. The OP is considering buying a new $30,000 SUV to do a $10/hr part time job? How can this job even begin to cover the costs of the vehicle? How bad does he want the wife out of the house?

  2. What is the maximum load either of the vehicles mentioned can carry? If he removes the seats and fills the back with newspapers, I imagine it is FAR over the weight limit. Without downshifting, you are likely to overheat your brakes going down the mountain and end up in the woods no matter what kind of tires you have. Either way the suspension is overloaded, which in the best case scenario means $$$. Again, I don’t see how taking this job actually pays.

  3. Does carrying all this weight decrease or increase the need for winter tires?

  4. I strongly disagree with Mike in NH–I would prefer ANY vehicle with good winter tires to an awd vehicle without them. --(Mike formerly from Oswego NY)

Mleich…sorry to speak for Mike, but I don’t believe that your number four comment was ever made by him and I feel it’s a false argument. We all seem to agree on the tires, it’s just awd, 4 wd or not. It’s up to OP to weigh the options based upon his concerns and budget. BTW, all that weight makes fwd even less effective then it all ready is going up hills. You bring up some good concerns about weight as well.

4. I strongly disagree with Mike in NH–I would prefer ANY vehicle with good winter tires to an awd vehicle without them. --(Mike formerly from Oswego NY)

Re-Read my post…Where did I say NOT to have snow tires…In fact I specifically said to have good snow tires or AT tires.

Here is EXACTLY what I said…

With that said…get rid of the Caravan and get a 4wd vehicle with good Snow tires or AT tires.

fwd with good snows is better then 4wd with summer tires…I can’t agree more…I know Oswego very well…Grew up in Pulaski. I even dated a couple girls that went to Suny Oswego…My brother worked at the Miller brewery for a while too.

The ONLY reason I suggested a 4wd vehicle…is I’ve driven in that area in the Catskills in the winter…They can get some decent snow amounts…and there are windy roads in those mountains…And having a paper route means you CAN’T miss a day…no matter what. If there’s a 20" snow storm (which occurs there)…you still have to get through. A good 4wd vehicle with good AT or Snow tires should get you through even in the worse conditions…A fwd with the best snows available…may have some trouble on those very snowy mountain roads.

Four reasons you need 4wd and snow tires…
1 Snow
2 mountains
3 weight
4 you can’t just wait for the sun to shine and the plows to pass, there are no “no school days” in delivering the paper

I grew up in Orange County, NY. Much of my family is still in the area & quite a few of those up into the Catskills in Sullivan County.

There has always been 4WD around in the family - in the form of a pickup with a plow.

But most of the clan just drives around in FWD vehicles all winter, including in & out of the Catskills - rain, sleet, snow, etc. Its not considered to be anything dramatic. Its just life. But we were also all well-trained by pops to know how to get around in winter weather.

So IMHO the question about a new vehicle is completely tied to your wife’s experience & skills in bad winter weather. If she’s done plenty of it & is confident about bad weather driving then the snow tires will probably be all she needs.

If she’s lacking in the experience & skills she may be better off with the extra “crutches” available on some vehicles. But that’s also no reason for her not to do some extra self-education, including practice if she’s not great with winter weather driving.

But then again, I now live in Virginia where on average people have very little experience with winter weather driving. Around here, I sometimes wonder whether those “crutches” do more harm than good. The reason is that if you put an inexperienced driver into a vehicle with, e.g., A/4WD, anti-locks, traction control, etc. they tend to get this weird belief that its the car’s job to keep itself under control. When we get snow & I see people off in ditches & upside down in farm fields it tends to be those kinds of vehicles.

Dag, there is a fifth reason.
And it goes like this: [my wife has to drive] “one route over a mountain that is scaring her”.
And IMHO it’s the best reason of all. I copied it from the OP’s post.

I’m reading your mail “same”.