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Best Cold Weather Grip? 2Wd On Winter Tyres Or 4Wd On Summer Tyres?


limecc
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Ever since buying a four wheel drive tow car I have been impressed with the extra grip and traction towing, especially on wet grass or muddy conditions where others get stuck. Solo in deep snow it's been almost impossible to stop, only being let down by lack of ground clearance (I was once 'beached' on compacted snow). On the subject of beaching it also goes well on soft sand. I have become convinced that the benefits of 4WD outweigh the slight penalty in fuel consumption and will never go back to 2WD.

 

Anyway, I was extolling all these virtues to a work colleague but he insists that in snow and ice, his 5 series BMW on winter tyres has far superior grip to any 4WD vehicle, including Range Rovers etc, that do not have winter tyres. Is this correct? Does anyone have personal experience to recount?

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Stand back and watch that touch paper be lit!

 

I can't comment as no personal experience of either, but I guarantee that this thread will be a fruity one! (And a few replayed videos included for good measure)

 

Apols, sarcasm kicked in after doing 37hrs work in 2 days. ....eyes stinging!

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I have no intention of getting into any heated debates, but from personal experience of permanent 4x4, and both front axle 2WD, and rear axle 2WD for towing I can offer an opinion. They all have their advantages and drawbacks.

 

Rear 2WD felt more secure for towing than front wheel drive on the road, probably because the weight was over the driving wheels, but if traction was lost on soft ground, there was a tendency for the rear axle to dig in if he wheels were allowed to spin. Driving off against a partly applied handbrake could help in this situation.

 

Front 2WD was fine on a good surface, but the driving wheels were inclined to loose grip even on short damp grass. This was worse when towing, as weight tended to be removed from the front axle by the rear axle loading.

 

4x4 transmission was far superior for getting the caravan out of a muddy or wet field than either front or rear wheel drive alone, and had the advantage of feeling more sure footed on metaled surfaces too.

 

Now to get to the original question, as many 4x4s tend to be mounted on wide tyres, in my opinion this is not ideal for good traction on snow, where a narrower tyre will normally provide greater grip by cutting into the soft snow rather than riding over it. The same of course applies to a 2WD vehicle, where in most cases the tyre design will probably have a greater effect than the number of axles being driven. Winter tyres should by definition give better grip than summer variants, as that is what they are designed for, with harder compounds and different thread patterns from summer tyres.

 

Under normal snowy conditions I feel however there is little difference between the 2WD on winter tyres, and the permanent 4x4 on summer tyres. The difference will come when they are confronted with "real" snow that needs to be ploughed through slowly, and then the higher ground clearance combined with a low ratio option of a 4x4, even on summer tyres, will win out over the 2WD on winter tyres.

 

Just my opinion from what I have experienced. Others may disagree but the biggest difference will be made by the driver, not necessarily the choice of tyres.

 

Gordon.

Fourwinds Hurricane 31D Motorhome. Also MGTF135 1. 8i Roadster (fun) & Volvo V70 3.2Ltr LPG (everyday car)
Unless otherwise stated, my posts will be my personal thoughts and have the same standing as any other member of Caravan and Motorhome Talk.

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Its very much down to what tyres are on what vehicle in any given conditions. 4x4 with m&s tyres (not big fat low profile road tyres) are excellent in deep snow but on sheet ice the higher centre of gravity and the cars weight can be the cars undoing. I have snow tyres on my wife's little Suzuki and it is also excellent in just a few inches of snow and good on sheet ice.

 

The best all round car I have had was a Subaru (noted for a lower centre of gravity) running on 195 wide m&s tyres.

 

Ultimately a 4x4 on summer tyres are best in the summer months. :)

Edited by PaulR
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Too often such debates ignore the differences between good & bad tyres of the same genre - so a good summer tyre will beat a bad winter tyre in all conditions, ie regardless of season or FWD/RWD/4WD - and similarly a good winter tyre will beat a bad summer tyre in all conditions.

 

And give the large numbers of people who skimp on their tyre choice by buying purely on price, the debate is academic - even more so when you recognise that most people can't handle winter conditions whatever they drive.

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Some years ago I worked one week every month in Vienna seconded to another Company my employer was invloved with. In the office there were dozens of company car drivers - nearly all base model Audi A4's or C Class Merc's - so all 2WD. In November they would all get an email with an appointment to go and have their winter tyres fitted.

 

As I continued to turn up through December, January & Feb (I worked there for two years) I was always amazed to see them arrive at work even when conditions were quite bad. The thing I remember most is that they rarely even commented on the snow or the journey when they arrived - they just got on with it.

 

It certainly opened my eyes regarding winter tyres. The tyres they used were not studded, in fact they didn't look much different to the ones which were taken off.

 

I guess some of this could be attributed to what condtions Austrians are used to driving in.

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One thing not to overlook is that winter tyres wear much more quickly in general use than summer tyres, and they are more expensive to replace.

 

A second point is that, with the exception of some specific vehicles, many modern car-based 4x4's don't have a mechanically selectable fixed 4WD. You select 4WD and the electronics (and semi mechanical like VAG Haldex) decide when to use the drive due to wheel slip.

 

Before I retired a colleague and the Company had Qashqai+2. The private one fitted winter tyres on the front only and never got stuck; the Co was fitted with M&S all round and not only was it a sod to drive but it could get stuck - and almost did several times.

 

4x4 in the right hands and right type of vehicle can work very well but you do need to know how to make it work properly especially with 'proper' mechanical 4WD in the likes of a Landrover Defender or one of the big Toyotas. This is one of the few places where, having been on one myself, I would recommend going on an off-road driving course.

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One thing not to overlook is that winter tyres wear much more quickly in general use than summer tyres, and they are more expensive to replace.

 

I'd take issue with the "much" quicker - mostly slightly quicker but some better than summer tyres, Nokian WR G1 for example but no longer available new.

 

Costs are about the same now but perhaps misleading because few cheap Chinese "ditch-finders" are made in winter specification.

Edited by Black Grouse
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Honest John and his team have said for years that a 2wd with winter tyres is better than a 4wd on summer tyres in poor conditions. Having said that I doubt if they're talking about pulling a caravan. There again very, very few caravans get towed in snow and ice. Ralliers and those that frequent CL's that remain open in winter may need 4wd with winter tyres, but most sites that stay open out of season only offer hardstanding pitches anyway.

I've got nothing to do on this hot afternoon

but to settle down and write you a line.

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Couple of points - Haldex 4x4 systems (which are not only found on VAG cars) are perfectly capable of dealing with snow and ice - I have had a Freelander 2 for 8 years and know this to be the case. Second point is where winter tyres really score is in braking on snow or ice where 4x4 makes no difference what so ever.

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Having owned many variants of both 4x4, fwd and rwd I would choose 2wd with winter tyres fitted over a 4x4 on summer tyres.


Yeti 2.0TDi EU6 150 DSG 4X4 L&K, Octavia TSi Manual, Fabia TSi DSG, Swift Challenger.

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In my experience (Army trained a loooong time ago) a good driver will always keep moving and it's generally the bad drivers that stop him. regardless of the type of tyres or driven wheels on his car.

 

But I would always go for winter tyres if cost was not an issue.

Edited by Motobiman

Adventure before dementia.

Saving for a Caravisio !!

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In my experience (Army trained a loooong time ago) a good driver will always keep moving and it's generally the bad drivers that stop him. regardless of the type of tyres or driven wheels on his car.

 

A loooong time ago cars didnt come fitted with wide low profile summer tyres manufactured to stay stable at full load in high temperatures at a sustained 186mph. These tyres harden at 7 degrees and have a tread pattern not suited to snow. Over the last 20 years this has become more and more common even on SUV's

 

Even my FWD passat won't manage any incline on snow with 235/45 Conti Sports fitted. With 205/55 winters fitted, not a problem.

Yeti 2.0TDi EU6 150 DSG 4X4 L&K, Octavia TSi Manual, Fabia TSi DSG, Swift Challenger.

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A loooong time ago cars didnt come fitted with wide low profile summer tyres manufactured to stay stable at full load in high temperatures at a sustained 186mph. These tyres harden at 7 degrees and have a tread pattern not suited to snow. Over the last 20 years this has become more and more common even on SUV's

 

Even my FWD passat won't manage any incline on snow with 235/45 Conti Sports fitted. With 205/55 winters fitted, not a problem.

And I'm not driving the vehicles i was trained to drive in a loooong time ago.

 

But I would always go for winter tyres if cost were not an option.

 

And I can generally keep moving if the road ahead is clear.

Edited by Motobiman

Adventure before dementia.

Saving for a Caravisio !!

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That's the biggest issue when the snow falls. Traffic grinds to a halt with all the numpties out with their high performance cars on summer rubber who can't get up the hills.

 

When we had our Jeep Cherokee with manual lockable diff my wife had a little Skoda Fabia with a little 3 cylinder petrol. We had that on 165 winter tyres.

That car was far more capabale than the jeep. Not just grip to keep going but the light weight, low inertia and narrow winter tyres meant it would steer and brake like it was on dry tarmac.

We did get some comments going out in the snow in the little hatchback and leaving the 4x4 jeep on the drive. :)

 

Lee

Yeti 2.0TDi EU6 150 DSG 4X4 L&K, Octavia TSi Manual, Fabia TSi DSG, Swift Challenger.

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My 2WD Yeti with traction control works well on wet grass and super wet roads

I have not tried it on snow but the hail that covered the roads was easy.

 

Narrow tyres, my 2CV was brilliant in snow and did not aquaplane in very wet

conditions. Apparently the designer of a British sports car noticed the 2CV tyres

were good in the wet, while in Switzerland, and tried a double narrow tyre on his cars.

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Our NIssan Leaf with traction control and Eco mode on, that damps down the torque, was brilliant last year and I often left the Koleos on the drive.

Adventure before dementia.

Saving for a Caravisio !!

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On the wear issue both Michelin and Continental state the wear rate on their winter tyres below 7 degrees is lower than their summer tyres

This is due to the amount of scrub experienced by the summer tyres at cold temperatures.

Infact Michilin state the average temperature needs ro exceed 15 degrees before winter wear rates exceed summer wear rates.

Yeti 2.0TDi EU6 150 DSG 4X4 L&K, Octavia TSi Manual, Fabia TSi DSG, Swift Challenger.

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Anyway, I was extolling all these virtues to a work colleague but he insists that in snow and ice, his 5 series BMW on winter tyres has far superior grip to any 4WD vehicle, including Range Rovers etc, that do not have winter tyres. Is this correct? Does anyone have personal experience to recount?

 

Yes he's correct he will have more grip available.

Nothing as scary as trying to steer and stop a 3 ton Range Rover on low profile summer tyres on snow and ice.

Yeti 2.0TDi EU6 150 DSG 4X4 L&K, Octavia TSi Manual, Fabia TSi DSG, Swift Challenger.

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This is such a non-debate. The OP's mate was saying how much better his BMW was than e. g. Range Rovers etc. I can't say I've got the budget for a RR, but I can say for a fact that the standard tyres on Discoveries are M+S, so they're not standard summer tyres (or for that matter winter tyres - that more relates to the compound), so the wise-BMW-guy is making a false comparison. I'd be surprised if the rest of the LR/RR range isn't the same.

 

It's many years since I've had a BMW, and it was the old/1980s 3-series which were very tail-happy, so I wouldn't tar the more modern ones with the same brush. I would say, however, that when I drove RWD Jags, 400BHP+, RWD and snow/ice simply don't mix, regardless of what tyres you put on. First hint of snow and my Jag went in the garage in favour of something with a bit of weight over the driving wheels - it was either that or it'd be taking me straight into a hedge.

Edited by Disco4
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It's quite simple - 4WD offers more TRACTION but not GRIP.

 

A 4WD will not brake any quicker, it won't magically stick to the road in a bend - but it won't wheel spin (well hardly) and bog you down.

 

Now I put good Winters on my old BMW 335d (286bhp diesel) and it was a TOTAL disaster. The car went from fast but comfortable to nearly lethal - it was SO bad I actually took them back after a long battle.

 

The issue is, Winter tyres do NOT work in warmer conditions - a soft sidewall with very hard tread = strange handling in the extreme. I do not believe putting Winter tyres on a performance car/SUV is a great idea - you need narrow tyres, higher profiles.

 

I'm really interested in the new Michelin Cross Climates - they appear to do Winter AND Summer well.

 

But for now, our Subaru Outback has All Weather tyres which for Cornwall should be more than enough.

 

Winters work in Snow and Ice but be very cautious sticking them on in mild weather.

BMW M135i - definitely not a tow carSubaru Outback 2. 5SE manual - a potential tow car, 2016 VW California 204 4motion could be a tow van

 

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As "summer/winter" tyres has cropped up, I would add, that as in my case, with Land Cruiser, I am able to get types that are more easy to understand regarding what you may want, etc. i. e. 60% on road 40% offroad + others in between.

These are not exclusive to LC obviously, and allow you to "choose" tyres to suit more, based on experience of what you think you will need, and keep these throughout the year, rather than a blanket "summer or winter". tyre, changing over at the appropriate time of year. I appreciate that no one can predict the weather (not even the forcast) There are of course the out and out offroad types, which are illegal onroad and some of the off/on roads types, as they go up the scale can give a lot of road noise.

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This is such a non-debate. The OP's mate was saying how much better his BMW was than e. g. Range Rovers etc. I can't say I've got the budget for a RR, but I can say for a fact that the standard tyres on Discoveries are M+S, so they're not standard summer tyres (or for that matter winter tyres - that more relates to the compound), so the wise-BMW-guy is making a false comparison. I'd be surprised if the rest of the LR/RR range isn't the same.

 

It's many years since I've had a BMW, and it was the old/1980s 3-series which were very tail-happy, so I wouldn't tar the more modern ones with the same brush. I would say, however, that when I drove RWD Jags, 400BHP+, RWD and snow/ice simply don't mix, regardless of what tyres you put on. First hint of snow and my Jag went in the garage in favour of something with a bit of weight over the driving wheels - it was either that or it'd be taking me straight into a hedge.

 

Our works Range Rover Sport and Range Rover came with Pirelli Summer Tyres on 20" rims. Lethal in snow and ice.

 

As for the high powered RWD and snow not mixing. Have you ever driven one on Winters instead of high performce summers?

 

Yeti 2.0TDi EU6 150 DSG 4X4 L&K, Octavia TSi Manual, Fabia TSi DSG, Swift Challenger.

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Photo found.

 

So I've had.

3x Permanent AWD Fords

2x Permanent AWD Subaru's

2x Jeeps. (1 with diff lock and 1 with mag coupling)

3x Land Rovers.

 

And 4X4 works vehicles for 20 years.

 

And this is the best vehicle I've driven in snow on the road.

 

2011-10-30161919.jpg

 

Of course it's limited by ground clearance but on 165 winters, 950kg and low torque it really did drive like it was on dry tarmac. Now Sold.

I remember when a certain TV program took some high powered AWD vehicles to Norway/Finland and they were constantly being overtaken by women going for their shopping in small light hatchbacks on skinny winters.

 

Lee

Edited by logiclee

Yeti 2.0TDi EU6 150 DSG 4X4 L&K, Octavia TSi Manual, Fabia TSi DSG, Swift Challenger.

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