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Winter driving. Advice needed

I have a 940 Volvo sedan (non turbo) with only 80k I really like the car, it has given me no problems, and I know it will last for another 100k easily (assuming no accidents). The problem is that I love skiing and will be making frequent trips to the mountains. My Volvo is RWD and has minimal storage space for skis especially for friends skis/snowboards(unless I get a roof rack).

So, I am thinking of selling my car and buying used Subaru outback or something along those lines (around $10k). Reason I would want an outback is mostly because of AWD and larger storage space. Also good mpg. I’m also at the point in my life where I would like to have everything I own be able to fit in my car.

So am I crazy for thinking of trying to sell a perfectly good car to get something else? I’m not afraid of driving a RWD car in the snow but I have had previous experiences where I would get stuck when my friend’s AWD cars wouldn’t (in the mountains mostly). Urban areas I am mostly fine. I also consider myself a competent driver.

Should I just get some good snow tires, chains, sandbags, and a roof rack? Or should I step it up and go for an AWD vehicle?

Thanks for your input!

Modern Winter tyres (snow tyres) are far better than what was available just a few years ago. Trading in and buying a new car is going to cost you a lot more than a roof rack.

It seems most people think snow means primarily, you need to be able to get through the snow. Wrong. The primary problem driving in snow is being able to keep you car on the road and under control and to be able to stop when needed. 4WD does not help keep you on the road or prevent you from sliding off the road or into the car in front of you. It might help get you out of the ditch however.

A set of four good winter tyres and a set of wheels for them will be safer and cheaper than 4WD.  When you decide to get a new car make sure it has stability control.  That will add to your winter safety. 

Good Luck and be safe.

Winter tires (you will need FOUR) and a roof rack would cost a lot less than $10,000.

Chains work in an emergency, but you don’t want to drive any distance on them. They’ll rattle your fillings loose before you get where you’re going.

Subaru has a wonderful AWD system, but it doesn’t guarantee anything, and you’ll still need winter tires if you want to drive in the mountains.

Everything you own fits in a car?

Purchase a set of 4 winter tires and you will be amazed not only at the traction in getting going but the control in turning, cornering and stopping in snow. AWD, FWD, RWD the difference is amazing between all-seasons vs winter tires.

You likely can find some inexpensive steel wheels and have four quality winter tires like Michelin X-ICe, Bridgestone Blizzack, Continental ExtremeWinterContact or General Altimax Artic mounted. Checkout or simply call them and they will set you up.

Winter tires should be relatively inexpensive given those old Volvo’s used 15" tires which are considered “tiny” by today’s standards.

A Subaru for $10K dollars is going to be a lot more trouble than you realize. It will be older Sub, with lots of miles and that’s just when they get expensive to repair and maintain. Don’t buy another car yet.

First, give it a try this winter with 4 new winter tires, a roof rack, and a compact (fold up) shovel in the trunk. The Volvo is much more spacious interior than a Subaru and more comfortable for you and the passengers. Getting to ski areas is rarely a problem as they do a good job clearing the roads and parking lots. The traction with the winter tires will be much, MUCH, better than you imagine. You’ll be wondering why you never had winter tires before?

Try the snow tires this winter. Also, put some extra weight over where your rear axle is.

It depends on how you define “Getting stuck”.

If you go up into the mountains, and ski all day, and when you get back to your car to head home, your car is under an extra 3 feet of snow, and you can’t get out of your parking spot, but your friend’s in their Subaru’s can, then you will need to go AWD, or bring a snow blower with you.

Now if you mean that you get out of the parking lot, but then get stuck halfway home when you can’t get from the resort road onto the secondary road, because the town never plows, and your car gets high centered, but your friends can just power through with their AWD pulling and pushing at the same time through the drift, then again, you might be better off with an AWD vehicle.

Now if finally you’re on the main interstate, and take a corner too fast, and slide into the ditch, and get stuck in a snow drift, then AWD isn’t going to make a difference, because you don’t know how to drive in the snow, even if you claim you’re a competent driver.

But it depends on you and your car, and the tires you have on it, if you should just switch to an AWD car. If you already have top dollar snow tires, and they aren’t getting you through the snow, then you should make the switch to an AWD vehicle.

Spending $500+ dollars on the best possible snow tires is a better step than spending thousands of dollars on a different vehicle, plus even more money for the same snow tires.

If you get the tires, and your car is much better in the snow, then you win, and save thousands of dollars. If the tires don’t improve the car enough, then you’re able to sell a good car to someone with excellent tires, and will make up that cost difference easily.


Winter tires will go a long way. Also, does your Volvo have a button that has a snowflake on it or a picture of a mountain? This button should activate a special mode for driving on snow and ice. If you haven’t read your owner’s manual from cover to cover, it might have some helpful information.

A roof rack would definitely be cheaper than buying a new car.

My 2 cents. Winter and or Studded tires. Weight over the drive axle. Roof rack. Throw in some chains/cables. sand for traction if you do get stuck. small "folding? shovel. drive accordingly.People been driving up mountains with rear wheel drive for many years. Good Luck n Have Fun

As the other said, winter tires will really help. I will say that an awd with winter tires will be better than a rwd with winter tires, every time. But you can probably do fine with the rwd/winter tire combo. Certainly cheaper.

Tires and technique.
Just like your shoes, when you look out your window and see snow, you carefuly choose the appropriate shoes to wear. AND you walk differently for conditions.