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Snow tires are better than having AWD/4WD

A FWD with winter tires is as good or better than a Subaru AWD with all season tires on snowy winter roads.

I’d like to discuss this. I have read that AWD/4WD is really just good for traction. ie: Getting started from a stop.
However, the real peril in snow driving is STOPPING and/or TURNING.
For this, AWD/4WD does almost nothing. (This is why SUV’s wipe out in snow anyway. Their added weight also becomes a negative when stopping)

So, if given a choice, I read that snow tires on a Porsche is better than a AWD/4WD SUV with normal tires.

Is this accurate?

Depends on too many factors to make such a pronouncement–sounds more like you are trying to bait an argument. Consider the world as shades of gray, not black and white:
–Snow depth
–Snow dry or wet
–Ice
–Driver skill/experience
–Tire wear/brand
–Hilly or flat conditions
–Traction control
–ABS
–ESP
–Etc.

For this, AWD/4WD does almost nothing. (This is why SUV's wipe out in snow anyway. Their added weight also becomes a negative when stopping)

OBVIOUSLY you’ve NEVER driven a 4wd or awd vehicle before. Before you make uneducated comments like that you should spend some time behind the wheel of one in snow country and try it out.

4wd with good AT tires is FAR FAR FAR FAR FAR better then a fwd vehicle with snow tires. Those of us who actually own them and have driven hundreds of thousands in 4wd in some of the worst snow you’ve probably NEVER seen know how much better 4wd then fwd.

With that said…there are very few places where 4wd is actually NEEDED. Mountain regions…The Great Lakes region where they get lots very unpredictable lake effect snow. But 95% of the drivers in this country don’t drive in those conditions so 4wd is NOT needed for snow.

AWD admittedly does nothing to help you to stop.
However, those who believe that it does not help with traction on turns are wrong.

Ask yourself this question:
If AWD is only about starting traction, why do some of the highest performance cars in the world (the Bugatti Veyron and some Lamborghinis come to mind, but there are others) come equipped with AWD?

The answer is that AWD can drastically reduce oversteer on turns. Watch the videos of AWD performance cars on the handling circuit on the Top Gear TV program, and you will see how the AWD performance cars manage to make it around the turns at very high speed without their rear end “hanging out”.

Now, apply this same principle to driving a car or SUV on a very slippery surface at lower speeds. The effect is similar.

The SUVs and other AWD vehicles that you see in ditches are there because their drivers thought that AWD make them invincible, and unfortunately, you just “can’t fix stupid”. All vehicles have their limits, which must be respected, but an AWD vehicle will have a higher limit on slippery curves than a non-AWD vehicle. It just amounts to knowing what your limitations are, and driving accordingly.

Personally, I like the combination of AWD and a set of 4 Michelin X-Ice tires. With that combo, I have never lost traction, even on the rural roads in my area which are sometimes not plowed or salted as promptly as they should be. At this point, I have driven for 41 years and well over 500k miles without an accident, so I must know something about safe operation of a vehicle.

If I lived in a city where the roads got plowed quickly after a snow storm, I would be happy with something with front wheel drive and winter tires, but if I lived in a rural area, or in a suburb where the roads didn’t get plowed quickly, I would want an AWD SUV with four good winter tires.

If your Porche is a rear wheel drive rear engine car, I would keep it garaged during the winter months, and only bring it out in the spring, summer, and early fall. I’d drive an old beater, like a 4WD Jeep Wrangler, during the winter months.

The SUVs and other AWD vehicles that you see in ditches are there because their drivers thought that AWD make them invincible, and unfortunately, you just "can't fix stupid".

And that is the MAIN problem. I have an Aunt who bought a Ford Explorer about 10 years ago. She had no idea how to drive it. Didn’t even know there was a switch to put it in 4wd. Unfortunately there are plenty of them around.

Personally, I like the combination of AWD and a set of 4 Michelin X-Ice tires.

Probably a good combination. I currently have Cooper AT3’s on my 4runner. This past winter wasn’t much of a test…except when we went skiing up North or VT. Unless the snow is 2’ deep the truck with that combination is unstoppable. Going up a couple of those hills in NH to ski…4wd with good tires is the way to go.

Sometimes visual demonstration is better






@bscar2 - While I liked the videos…The problem I have is…that’s not much snow. Snow on a road that hasn’t been plowed is a lot different then that hard packed/groomed snow in the videos.

There are no absolutes when it comes to comparing ad with fwd, except for one.awd is vastly superior in most conditions if the tires are the same. It is foolish to even think that awd replaces snow tires or the awd does not need AT or snow tires when the added driving wheels Need them MORE then fwd because of their potential. Would You put summer tires on an off road vehicle you intended tto use off road ? Then you don’t substitute awd for snow tires.

You really can’t make decisions about whether to buy awd or not without trying one in exactly the same conditions you will use one in.

The first 4WD vehicle I had ('86 S10 Blazer) amazed me with how much better it cornered in the snow and ice when in 4WD compared to in 2WD. Granted, it had a limited slip differential in the rear, so oversteer under heavy throttle in 2WD was a major problem, but for some reason, engaging the 4WD made that problem disappear almost entirely. I could still get it to spin out in 4WD, but it was quite difficult to do. In 2WD, stepping on the accelerator was all that was necessary to get it to spin out. Yes, I had this vehicle when I was a teenager, so it got driven rather stupidly and its limits were pushed regularly in the snow and ice, but I never wrecked it and never got it stuck, even when I tried to get it stuck.

IMO:
AWD is bad: If it means you are out driving when you shouldn’t be or are driving faster than you should be for conditions.

AWD is better: If you constantly need to drive when traction is marginal.

To your question, when driving in snow and ice is a Porsche with snow tires better than an SUV without. Personally, even if I could afford one, I wouldn’t drive a Turbo Carrera in the snow no matter what kind of tires it had, when I was younger maybe. BUT I did have an air-cooled VW van, engine over the drive wheels, lots of ground clearance, with a set of gnarly snow tires. Based on many miles of driving snow covered roads I would take it over an AWD SUV with marginal tires any day.

I now have a minivan, engine over the drive wheels, OK ground clearance and all season radials. It gets me around fine. If I needed better performance in marginal conditions I would buy a good set of snow tires before I would trade it in for AWD.

IS AWD drive worth the cost, complexity, weight penalty, tire requirements, etc, etc? IMO No, unless you absolutely, positively have to get there overnight.

Veyron 16.4: For $1.5 mil I would expect AWD regardless. I haven’t heard any complaints about driving it in the snow. Then again I haven’t heard any complaints about driving the Shelby GT 500 in the snow either.

IS AWD drive worth the cost, complexity, weight penalty, tire requirements, etc, etc? IMO No, unless you absolutely, positively have to get there overnight.

Can’t make a blanket statement like that. Maybe for YOU it’s not worth it.

But for people who live in the lake effect region around the Great Lakes…don’t share your beliefs. Lake effect snow is too unpredictable. You never know where it will be or how much. On more then one occasion I drove up I-81 in the Lakes effect area…drive 10 miles…cloudy but no snow…then the next 10 miles is white out blizzard conditions…when I finally got through it about 6-10 inches of snow had fallen…then clear for then next 10 miles…then another lake effect ban…same thing blizzard white out conditions…only now about 10-15" of snow on the ground…then it clears and no snow…not even a trace of new snow…This pattern repeats all the way from Syracuse to Watertown.

My dad NEVER had 4x4 all my days of childhood.
– snow tires, pre-mounted on separate rims –
– learn to drive in it – in Chevy Biscayne station wagons.
and we lived in north east Ohio too.

MTraveler Duct Tape Specialist …Huh ? “AWD is bad: If it means you are out driving when you shouldn’t be or are driving faster than you should be for conditions.”

Unnecessary for where you live,yes, but bad ? Even in summer rains and on dry pavement, awd handles better in emergency situations that require some acceleration compared to fwd. It’s always a choice of money over features.

"I would buy a good set of snow tires before I would trade it in for AWD."
That’s fine. But the first time you drive an awd WITH snow tires in winter snow and ice, it’s obvious that it shouldn’t be an either/or question. To discount that option just means you live somewhere that winter weather is NOT an issue what so ever. AWD with winter tires IS the ultimate in safety ( ALONG WITH COMMON SENSE). It’s always a question as whether you want to pay extra in maintenance, gas and initial cost. But it’s wrong to say that it’s inferior to or equal to fwd with snow tires when compared to awd with snows.

So where do you reside ?

We just made the decision yesterday to go with another FWD. We considered the AWD but for the $4000 extra plus cost, lower fuel economy, and other factors, we just figured we didn’t need it for those few times in Minnesota that would be a problem. If the weather is bad we’ll just stay home or get a motel. The fall back would be to spend a couple thou extra for winter tires but I’ve never needed to do that before. I don’t dispute the value at all when you need it, it was just a business decision.

MiNH & D’gosa
It’s my opinion and I’ll stand by it.

If having AWD makes drivers overconfident, and IMO it often does, then it is bad for the driver and the people that have to share the road with them.

For many years I lived and drove in the Berkshire foothills and for a time made frequent forays to Canada. I know what snow is in most of its forms; deep, slushy, icy, packed, dry, etc. In that time I passed many an AWD off the side of the road or got stuck behind them, all four wheels spinning away. My conclusion: bad judgment and poor preparation. Have there been situations when AWD would have been a benefit to me, sure, but they were few and always my fault for getting into them. And, yes I’ve gotten stuck in a blizzard far from home and pushed through by following, slowly, in the tracks of a convoy of semis, all without AWD. If I lived at the end of an unpaved mountain road I would probably have AWD, but I don’t, and most people panting for AWD don’t either. I apply the same rational to dry road and emergency handling. If you are pushing your car to a limit where AWD will save you then you have pushed the limit too far in the first place. My observation over the years has been that regardless of FWD, RWD or AWD most people have no idea how their cars handle at the limits and even fewer know what to do if they get there.

You certainly are entitled to your opinion is that having bigger snow warrants AWD for all the folks living around the Great Lakes.

The best defense against snow? DRIVE SLOW. Let the others pass you.
Words of a mature adult. My parents would be proud. Ha!

Useeconobox2used BMW…brings up a good point, unintended. I can drive much slower in hilly areas in awd and not worry about having to conserve momentum to make a hill. Fwd cars often have to exceed safe speeds just to make hills…slow and safe is better done with awd.

A high powered car brings out the idiots…an awd car in snow often does too. Soooo, the conclusion is to drive Smart Cars to keep everyone safe ? The ability to accelerate prodently is a safety factor in the dry…it is equally so in snow. If that ability is miss used., it’s no more a reason to discount an awd as an unsafe car then the person who drives a v6 Camry instead of a Yugo.

For severe conditions, I can see the advantages of awd for handling. However… Lamborghini and Bugatti use awd largely because it’s hard to put down that much power in a rwd car without wheelspin. Neither makes a car suitable for winter driving and they come with tires that must be challenging on wet roads. Lamborghini, long a rwd proponent, made a special Gallardo a while ago for people handling purists who considered awd inferior. Drivers who would have otherwise bought a rwd Ferrari. Ferrari has historically avoided awd as unnecessary and damaging to handling, though they recently engineered an oddball part-time awd system for the FF. Still not for winter driving, though it would be better for it than any other Ferrari.

Isn’t the question being asked this:

Is the traction difference between All Season tires and Winter tires GREATER than the difference between 2WD and 4WD?

When stated like this, I think it is obvious what the answer is.