AWD : Suitable for snowy, icy conditions?

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Hi Fellas,

I own a RWD car. In the snow last year I had one or two very hairy moments when the back spun out due to loss of traction. This was despite the car having a "snow mode" and traction control. Fortunately, I was able to correct the problem before hitting other road-users or the ditch. But it wasn't a lot of fun at the time.

For this reason I am considering getting an AWD vehicle. I do not want a 4x4 as I never go off road and consider such vehicles pointless unless you are going to use them for such activities.

I am not a car expert, but there must be a difference between AWD and 4x4 or else all the vehicles that can send power to all-wheels would be called AWDs (or perhaps 4x4s)

Two questions :

1) Can some one, using basic terms, tell me the difference between AWDs and 4x4s

2) Could you let me know if AWDs would be better (in terms of traction and less likelihood of skidding etc) in snow/icy conditions or should I just stick with RWD and buy a decent set of snow tyres for the winter months


Appreciate all your help...

Hussman
 
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You live in Kent - heavy snow is rare enough to make front page news whenever it happens. You do not need to pick a car based on its snow ability anymore than somebody in Norway needs to pick a car with an air conditioning system capable of handling sustained 30c+ heat.

Buy a car you like - if it happens to be 4WD great, if not, no big deal.
 
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Surely, just because an event (in this case snow) is unlikely doesn't mean you shouldn't factor it into your thinking?

You could say fatal crashes are rare, therefore I won't consider buying a car with additional safety features as it won't happen to me.

I want to make an informed decision, that's all.
 
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If you had hairy moments in your car as is, surely just getting a AWD car isn't going to be a solve everything solution that turns you into an all weather driving god overnight, and that and you should evaluate your driving ability instead? i.e. extra training, skidpan course?
 
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A valid point.

I do not consider myself to be "the best driver", but have noticed a big difference in icy conditions with a RWD car compared to my previous (FWD) one.

In normal conditions, I prefer the RWD. Was just wondering what AWD offered (if anything) over FWD/RWD in ice/snow.
 
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1) Can some one, using basic terms, tell me the difference between AWDs and 4x4s

2) Could you let me know if AWDs would be better (in terms of traction and less likelihood of skidding etc) in snow/icy conditions or should I just stick with RWD and buy a decent set of snow tyres for the winter months

1) They are the same thing unless the car has less than 4 or more than 4 wheels. The differences in different types of 4WD depend on different manufacturers approaches and different purchases budgets. Not all 4WD systems are the same, some work better than others in snow but all should be better than 2WD.

2) If loss of traction is a problem it will be better. If skidding or loss of grip due to ice is the issue then which wheels are driven will have little effect on how you stop your car skidding. 4WD will offer benefits in snow but these will in the main be down to getting going when others cars spin their wheels and keeping going when other cars can't.
 
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Surely, just because an event (in this case snow) is unlikely doesn't mean you shouldn't factor it into your thinking?

In the same way that you shouldnt carry a canoe in your car incase of a flood, yes.

I want to make an informed decision, that's all.

So make one - an informed decision in this case is that you live in Kent and therefore a weather specific car isn't really needed.

Something basic like more driver education might be far cheaper - the 'snow mode' you spoke of was not about stopping your car spinning out whilst driving..
 
Soldato
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AWD just means you have 4 wheels spinning and not stopping(remember the engine turns all 4 wheels, including engine braking)

AWD/4x4 is great for starting off, **** for stopping, not that wonderful for turning either.

My BMW had no problems in the snow, even up a hill with 3" of fresh snow on it(it took forever to get up it but then i did stop at the bottom)

I agree with Fox's comments
 
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If i really really needed to get around in the snow and there was no chance of me just laying up the car for a couple of days, I would just get some decent snow tyres rather than compromising my whole car choice.
 
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I agree that using the car in such conditions was not the best option. However, I had to use the car to return home after a night out when the road had become snow-bound during the course of the evening. It was clear (just blinking cold!) when I left home for my night out.

Looks like I need to brush up on my skills (fair enough, we can all improve) and perhaps buy snow tyres.

So, does anyone here have first hand experience of such tyres? Are they worth it or is it a gimmick?
 
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Thanks for clearing that up :)

Skid pan course, or similar perhaps? Any recommendations?

Skip pan / car limits days... that kind of thing, yes.

Like Fox and others, I certainly wouldn't recommend buying a different vehicle just on the off chance you might get heavy snow in Kent a day or two a year... it's really not worth it & most cars (whatever drive train) can handle the snow England can throw at them.

I'm exactly the opposite... I intentionally purchase RWD cars and look forward to when the snow shows up so that I can play :)
 
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You don't need snow tyres either as they are mostly useless when there isn't snow. Winter tyres, perhaps, but thats a whole can of worms as to whether they are worth it to.

Seriously - you live in Kent. It snowed, you were unlucky, it hardly ever happens, don't worry about it.
 
Soldato
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I bought a AWD car because I thought it would be nice to have it in the snow, so last week we had lots of snow but I decided not to get it out of the garage as I did not want to drive my shiny new car in the snow :D

Winter tyres on any car will be enough, you don't need AWD
 
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Is there an argument for this point:

In the UK it rains a lot - the roads are often slippery etc.. Does an AWD vehicle offer an advantage over a RWD one in these circumstances? e.g Would an A4 quattro be more advantageous compared to a RWD 3 series on a wet / slippery road?
 
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In the UK it rains a lot - the roads are often slippery etc.. Does an AWD vehicle offer an advantage over a RWD one in these circumstances? e.g Would an A4 quattro be more advantageous compared to a RWD 3 series on a wet / slippery road?

If you are in the habit of pressing on in wet weather, then yes, it would be. But for it to offer a credible advantage you really would need to be driving quite hard - a 3 Series isn't tailhappy in the wet at the speed limit.

If thats how you drive then absolutely a Quattro would better suited to your driving style, but I'd wager it probably isnt how most people drive. I simply do not experience traction issues in the wet in my RWD car - presumably a combination of driving style and tyre choice (I always pick tyres which offer excellent wet grip).
 
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To the OP - OcUK Motors driving experts will decide whether you need a 4WD or AWD vehicle. Not you. Thank you for posting. :D

:rolleyes:

He's asking for advice, how dare we give him opinion. We should all praise his thought process, ignore any flaws in it and recommend a Subaru Legacy.
 
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