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What to take to Bozeman, MT? 2WD Car or 4WD Truck?

My wife and I will be moving to Bozeman, Montana in the fall of 2011 (for grad school), and we are having some debate as which car to take, a '95 Chevy K1500 (4WD, 232000 Miles) or a '99 Ford Escord (2WD, 85000)? I say the truck cause it’s got 4WD, while my wife wants to sell both and buy a used AWD or 4WD used car. What’s the advice? By the way Bozeman gets 80" of snow a year on average (Oct-May with a chance of snow year round).

Sell both the beaters and buy a decent 4wd mid-size pick-up or SUV

Dump the truck; it’s too expensive to run. If you insist on 4wd, trade both and get a used awd CRV or RAV which are more efficient than a truck . I would say though first consider, taking the compact Escort if it passes the muster of mechanic you can trust and get 4 winter tires till you’re out of school.

Why sell a good running truck for another midsized truck or SUV? Yes It’s got a lot of miles, but it’s been kept in good condition, without any major problems. So why worry now?

At nearly $4 per gallon, There is one very good reason to dump a truck with 232k miles on it. It many be getting less than half the mileage of the compact. Get a compact suv or keep the car only. The truck is an abatros.

How much are you willing to spend? I think that you’d be hard pressed to find a decent 4WD with good gas mileage for whatever you get from selling both vehicles. If you can add a few thousand, then I’d look at a small crew cab pick-up with 4WD. Nissan Frontier comes to mind. My cousin has one and loves hers. You can get a 2006 for between $12,000 to 15,000. You could get an equivalent 2006 F150 crew cab starting at around $11,000, but will get about 10% worse gas mileage. Whatever you buy, make sure you can get it serviced in Bozeman.

A serious Block Heater is standard equipment in Bozeman…

You are a lucky couple it is very pretty there. Moma happy everyone happy… need anyone say more!

That’s kind of what I thought! The campus housing has standard block heater plug-ins!

Can you both get by with just 1 vehicle?
Sorry to say, but right now, your truck is probably worth scrap value on the market today, twice as much if you sold it with a full gas tank. I remember seeing a brand new Suburban on the local GM lot with “$10,000 off” emblazoned across the front windshield the last time gas prices rose near $4/gallon.

If you can handle it, take both vehicles with you when you move, then decide how you want to proceed. This way you can get a feel for what everyone else is driving there, and where you can get other vehicles serviced at. When you’re ready to buy a newer vehicle, you won’t have to worry about all the paper work involved in transferring tags and whatnot during your move.

While Montana is a very cold place to live…it actually doesn’t get a lot of snow. They average less then 50" a year. Not enough snow to worry about. Any decent fwd vehicle will easily handle the road conditions…And for the 1-2 days where you get a snow storm…just stay in-doors.

Winter tires for the Escort for the 1st winter. Then see what your needs are. Keep the truck too, you just might not drive it much. With fuel prices likely to remain around $5.00 a gallon you’d regret not having the Escort anymore. Why is this an either/or situation?

Winter tires on a FWD Escort is a very good snow car, you don’t need AWD. Snow is actually much more slippery at or near 32 degrees. It is so cold in Bozeman that you’ll get much more traction than you expect. At 10 degrees traction on snow pack is actually very good. The Escort will do great, with winter tires of course.

How much driving will you be doing? If you won’t be taking long, out of town trips but merely driving around town, I don’t know that gasoline mileage is a consideration. If you will be living in campus housing, there may be a campus transit system to get you to the classroom part of campus.

If you can limit yourself to one vehicle, you will save on licensing and insurance. Since you probably won’t have indoor parking, I don’t think you want a new or late model car on campus. If your graduate school experience turns out to be like mine, you won’t have much time to worry about the car. My car got just enough maintenance to keep it going when I was in graduate school. We resisted the temptation to buy a newer car. My wife had taught in the public school for a couple of years and we had saved her paychecks. Between our assistantships and the low cost of campus housing, we still had most of our savings and used the money for a down payment on a house when we were established in our jobs. In fact, we stretched the old car a couple more years after we moved into the house.

That’s the plan to take just one vehicle. I think that most of the driving would be around town, with trips to the mountains and surrounding areas occassionally, but possible trips back to washington state during the winter breaks so I’m thinking that something that will handle the mountain passes is also a necessity.

Um from what I’ve read it’s around 80" of snow with temps dipping down below zero quite often.

Mean average snowfall is 44.4 inches. See the link below:

It’s below the graph of daily mean precipitation and snowfall. You can also see the daily temperatures at this link.

I saw 44 also…Either way…80" isn’t that much…

Want snow…move to “The Tug-Hill Plateau”…Some towns there average over 300" a year…80" is NOT a lot of snow…When you start getting over 100" (like Syracuse and Rochester) then you start getting into serious snow.

I grew up and lived in Montana most of my life, including Bozman. I say, if “grad school” and living in married student housing, … $$$$… get a VW Bug (older one). They get around GREAT in the snow,… don’t get stuck like a 4WD will (because of “ego”, usually), the gas mileage is good, they are cheap to run. The downside is that you will want to put some money into the heaters, but othwise a good cheap “4WD”. I lived in Montana (both side of the Divide) for 35 years and the VW worked great on a budget!

Sure, the old VWs were great starting off at low speed in snow. Just don’t get caught in a wheel rut or a cross wind. WO the weight in front, it’s a battle keeping them on the road at speed. If you don’t value your life, get one and drive on the open plains in a little snow with a crosswind and a bunch of semis. We had 5 of them at one time in our family and I learned to drive on them. I would think we graduated from these go carts. There is a reason this design isn’t seen any more. After market defrosters and heaters? That should tell you something there. Life is too short to drive one of these death traps on today’s highways.
A Yugo would be considered a safer car, when it ran.
And, the ability to cope with rust by these buckets generated by spray salt used today, that’s a whole other issue, along with being your own mechanic. Get use to points again.