Towing in the Snow - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-24-2006, 05:20 PM   #15
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Brian, while I concur with your "driver over-confidence" conjecture, the #1 car in the ditches in reduced traction conditions around this neck of the woods are front-wheel-drive. Rear wheel drive vehicles give at least a little time to recover through steering and fore-aft weight redistribution "feathering" the throttle. Although they do well in snow, when a front wheel drive car loses traction, control is lost, and it's very difficult to regain.

Around here, all-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive are usually the ones getting where they need to go. Most of the folks who have them recognize what they're limitations are and drive accordingly. The other biggies here (as I said in my earlier post) are the 80,000 lb 18 wheeled behemoths who end up in a snowstorm and then in the ditch. I'm always amazed when I can barely see two car-lengths in front of me at any speed and traction is scarce, to have a trucker whiz by me at 70 mph. I guess it's a miracle that more of them don't crash under those conditions. I really appreciate the responsible drivers who recognize the limitations of their equipment and their skills under those conditions.

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Old 10-24-2006, 06:27 PM   #16
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I dunno Roger,

I still see more 4wds in the ditch up here than anything else.

My best handling snow car: a 1998 Honda Civic, chained, front only. Engine right over the drive wheels.

That is IF the road was plowed somewhat. The thing had no height to it, and it would bog if the snow was over 4 inches. My Element is far better in this aspect, but seems a bit less stable all the way around for other stuff. Might be the wheel base?

I cannot conceptualize a RWD handling better. I have had a couple, and in the snow, they handled like.. er, not well. All my FWDs have felt way more stable.

As a matter of fact, this is not snow, but IS traction related.. I got my new RWD Jeep stuck in a spot on a forest service road I have been over many many times with the Element

My guess is that the back of the Jeep effectively has no weight on it, but I could be wrong..

I only know what my experience and comfort level is..
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Old 10-24-2006, 06:57 PM   #17
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I cannot conceptualize a RWD handling better. I have had a couple, and in the snow, they handled like.. er, not well. All my FWDs have felt way more stable.
Generally speaking, and especially in good traction conditions or poor traction conditions at slow speeds, you're right. However, once you lose it with a FWD, unlike RWD, you have little chance of recovering. All of my patrol cars right now are FWD and in service in city driving. However, out in the country on the gravel roads at speed, or on reduced traction surfaces again at speed, they scare me silly. I can also tell you that Ford RWD sedans have, for years, been the worst handling cars in the world for snow and ice traction. I used to get them stuck parked at the curb in my little town in NW Iowa, and that was AFTER the streets had been plowed! The Chevy Caprice had a much better track record for snow handling than the Crown Vics. Our Sheriff's Dept won't buy anything but RWD. With a RWD though, you generally have some kind of notice that you're losing it, and backing off the accelerator will allow enough weight transfer to gain your steering until the traction wheels can lock up again. With FWD, there's not notice when you're getting close to overdoing it, AND when you've lost traction in a FWD, you've lost steering. Game, set, match.

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I got my new RWD Jeep stuck in a spot on a forest service road I have been over many many times with the Element.
I can't tell you how much I used to cuss when out four-wheeling with my friends in their Land Cruiser FJs and International Scouts when I got my CJ-7 stuck and they had to come and pull me out of places they'd just been through, or I couldn't get through and they'd pass me and then come back and pull me out. I loved my Jeeps, but frankly after the CJ3A, they've not been the most competent 4WDs on the planet. I followed my friends' lead, switched to Toyotas, and haven't been stuck since.

(AND... for all you Monday morning quarterbacks... before you tell me it's me... I have driven all OVER the back country of Lake, Colusa, and Mendocino Counties in CA on forest service roads, logging roads, and no roads, and LED processions where the 4WDs got stuck... in a 2WD Aerostar VAN with street tires! Nobody believed where I could take that van. I regularly got "do you wanna park it and ride in the 4WD before you bury it?" I only got it stuck once in seven years, and that was fording a river... I was too soft on the gas when I shoulda gunned it... <sigh> and then a kindly old rancher brought out HIS '72 Jeep Wagoneer and pulled me out... )


Roger
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Old 10-24-2006, 09:31 PM   #18
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I`ve never owned a 4x4 and never really needed one...think that if I did have one I`d just get bogged down deeper and further from help......The best car in snow that I`ve owned was a 76 Honda station wagon with studded snow tires on the front.....snow a foot and a half deep was no problem for this vehicle as long as the front wheels were kept spinning.....if you backed off the throttle and climbed up onto the snow and tried to get out you`d hang the car up and that was that......I used to go out in snow storms to bring neighbours home from the city and they`d be amazed by that little Honda......if it was icy and the car got a bit loose you could just hit the throttle and pull it straight...no problem.......seems that worst cars were the ones that I`d put the widest possible snow tires on....got stuck everywhere I went, LOL ......on ice the best vehicle I had was a 69 Plymouth with studded snow tires front and back....was great for highway driving on ice......if there is a chance that the roads are slippery, I always like to hit the brakes or accelerator just to check conditions while I`m still driving slow, rather then get a surprise later......problem is that with my current truck with the ABS, you can`t tell how slippery it actually is....have to use the accelerator, and I`d rather be able to tap the brakes......these days if there is a blizzard or other inclement weather like that, I just sit in the living room and watch neighbours 4x4`s try to get out of the drifts and ditches.. ...Benny
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Old 10-24-2006, 10:32 PM   #19
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in good traction conditions or poor traction conditions at slow speeds, you're right.
And that would sum up my personal experience. I do NOT try to break land speed records in the snow, or ice. I can't recall ever going even mildy fast in those conditions.

The only time I felt loss of control was in my RWD Opel, and I did a slow motion slide into a ditch. Fortunately, the only damage was to my ego.

I don't have to chase bad guys tho!

As far as towing in the snow, I'll do light powder, but only to get somewhere safe. Otherwise, it gets parked and I enjoy the trailer until conditions improve.
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Old 10-24-2006, 11:04 PM   #20
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With any vehicle there's limitations on how they handle in snow and ice. All have the same stopping problem. I drive a 4X4 Chev Blazer. I got the 4X4 because we spend a lot of time driving around in the mountains, sometimes on what appears to be parallel cow paths with ditches across them(not winter driving). There's also one big advantage of 4X4 with M&S tires here in Oregon. Oregon's chain laws say that when they post the signs "Chains Required" I don't have to get out and put chains on. All I need to do is push a button. I still have to drive with caution, that doesn't change. We were going skiing 3 week-ends out 4 when I bought the Blazer.

When we first started skiing I went through chains pretty fast. Oregon mountain roads will often go above where there's snow on the road then back below that point then above. To prevent chaing breakage you would have put on and take off chains every couple miles.

Then came a sting of front wheel drive cars. Winter time and they were outfitted with 4 studded tires. Travel without applying chains was great as long as I slowed down.

The Blazer has been about the best of the bunch with a front wheel drive Doge Aries second. I found that it was too easy to loose front end control with rear wheel drive. But maybe that's comparing apples and oranges, cause I only had traction devices (chains or studded tires) on the rear wheels on rear wheel drive vehicles.
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Old 10-25-2006, 01:45 PM   #21
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One factor to note about front wheel drive (FWD) versus rear (RWD)
While every FWD vehicle will be significantly front-heavy (at least when not carrying significant load), RWD vehicles may be anything from extremely front-heavy to significantly rear-heavy, even empty. This makes a huge difference to traction. In most forms of motorsport where the design is not closely related to a stock vehicle, RWD (or all-wheel-drive) is preferred, but they have appropriate weight distribution.

And as for controlling a FWD car...
Automatic transmissions can be death to vehicle control. It can be very handy to be able to push the clutch pedal and remove the drivetrain from the handling equation, at least momentarily. Even with an automatic, appropriate technique can help. Roger, spectate at an SCCA Rally event some time, and see what FWD can really do.

Many years ago, I would regularly compete in solo motorsport events run on tracks plowed out of the snow on frozen lakes, usually in a stock FWD car. I was always pushing the limit of control (remember this is a closed and controlled event, not a public street...) and I rarely found myself in an unrecoverable situation. I also entered every high-speed turn (commonly 80 km/h or 50 mph entry speeds) with the tail hung out in an oversteering drift. A trailer would complicate that, of course, but it would with RWD too!

By the way, in that form of competition on ice, the classes were determined by the type of tire. There were a couple of studded classes, but no one ever mentioned the idea of using chains...
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Old 10-26-2006, 09:41 AM   #22
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All very good information! However, some of your assumptions about FWD and RWD may not be completely true.

In my experience on snow/ice with traction control equiped FWD vehicles and limited slip differential equiped RWD I will bet on the FWD every time.

My TV is a traction controlled RWD and when compared to the tractioned controlled FWD I used to tow with I prefer the FWD for handling and getting out of those slicky (snow/ice/mud/loose gravel) situations.
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Old 10-28-2006, 08:21 PM   #23
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I can't tell you how much I used to cuss when out four-wheeling with my friends in their Land Cruiser FJs and International Scouts when I got my CJ-7 stuck and they had to come and pull me out of places they'd just been through, or I couldn't get through and they'd pass me and then come back and pull me out.
Jeeps getting pulled out by Scouts??? Oh the HORROR

I agree w/ you Roger, RWD seems to be vastly more predictable than FWD in poor driving circumstances. The only serious wreck I've been in was in a FWD car. The road was black iced, and nothing I could do would recover it. I had time to try plenty of things, too, going downhill like I was.

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Old 10-28-2006, 08:52 PM   #24
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Jeeps getting pulled out by Scouts??? Oh the HORROR

I agree w/ you Roger, RWD seems to be vastly more predictable than FWD in poor driving circumstances. The only serious wreck I've been in was in a FWD car. The road was black iced, and nothing I could do would recover it. I had time to try plenty of things, too, going downhill like I was.

Matt
Hi: My primary rule in winter driving no matter wether its F.W.D. or R.W.D. is "knock it into neutral"!!! You have to get rid of the push/pull from the drive train so you can steer straight and brake accordingly If someone asks me if its slippery I always say " If I put my hand on the gear shifter it's probably slippery" With a manual transmission pushing in the clutch does the same thing as putting it in neutral... A lot of highway cross over collisions could be avoided if drivers only "Knocked it into neutral" Try it sometime when you can safely do it on a slippery street you will be suprised!!! Stopping distances are shorter also Only problem is if the guy behind doesn't know this rule Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie
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Old 11-15-2006, 03:32 PM   #25
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After spending 9 hours on an expressway in Canada waiting to be rescued along with 50 miles of other cars, I have learned my lesson. BE PREPARED.

On our vacation this year, we weren't even pulling a trailer, and came off the expressway at the first exit when the roads started to look bad. Better safe than sorry is my motto now.

A few years ago on the way home from work, I got on the expressway and it immediately turned to ice. I took the next exit off, went into a motel, called my family, had dinner, and left 5 hours later after the road was clearned. Again, better safe than sorry.

The biggest thing is to SLOW DOWN whether you are pulling a trailer or just in your tow vehicle.
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Old 11-26-2006, 10:44 PM   #26
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Good points all the way. If anything worthwhile hasn't been mentioned, it's the tendency of AWD to mask the slipperiness of the road. That can lead to a false sense of security. A front wheel drive car will constanty remind you of slick conditions. The steering wheel saws back and forth as each front wheel fights the other for best traction. Meanwhile, my Subaru (and years ago, my Quattro) is quietly and efficiently distributing power from wheel to wheel. I remind myself to tap the brakes frequently to check the road traction available. I think AWD is a net benefit if you keep this in mind.
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