Choice of Vehicle for Snow & Ice

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by amelia, Oct 9, 2005.

  1. amelia

    amelia Well-Known Member

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    Well, finally it's happening. . . This city girl is taking the plunge. The land I'm looking at is near the Canadian border in eastern Washington, where winters are a little more serious than what I'm used to. It's 20 or so miles out of town, accessible mostly by way of county roads which are regularly plowed. The last 1/8 mi stretch will get some accumulation. So here's my question: Am I going to need to trade in my Honda Civic hatchback for a higher-sitting 4WD vehicle, or could I get by with what I have together with a good set of snow tires?

    I've been looking at the Toyota Tacoma 4x4, which appeals to me from the standpoint of utility. I'm wondering how smaller 4WD pick-ups fare in slippery winter conditions.

    Thank you in advance for your input!
     
  2. bill not in oh

    bill not in oh Well-Known Member

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    Four wheel drive is a definite plus in the snow/mud. With a pickup, you'll want to put some sandbags in the back over the rear wheels during the winter. Just remember - four wheel drive doesn't do you any good going downhill....
     

  3. sullen

    sullen Question Answerer

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    Yes, I agree. 4 wheel drive, but you also need great tires. Something heavy to keep the vehicle grounded, but tires are the most important. A lot of people up here just have Subarus and get along fine. I never put snow tires on my new 4 wheel drive last year and I was sliding everywhere. (Fun fun fun)
     
  4. deb

    deb Well-Known Member

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    I live in rural WI and drive 110 miles RT to work 5 days a week. I have a Saturn wagon with anti-lock brakes a, traction control and great tires. Getting great tires really made a big improvement in my car's ability to deal with snow. We never got stuck, butthe car was more stable after getting Nokian tires.

    My Alaskan friends have told me that Subarus are the vehicle of choice. I read an article about a man that buys used Subarus in the lower 49 states, then he resells them in Alaska - making a tidy profit on each sale despite of the transportation costs.

    BTW - I've driven by a lot of wrecked trucks and SUVs sitting in snow banks so getting 4WD isn't necessarily the best and only answer for driving in snow & ice. Buying good tires is really important and understanding the limitations of your vehicle is even more important.


    deb
    in wi
     
  5. insanity

    insanity Well-Known Member

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    Well said Deb! :cowboy:
     
  6. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    I have a Subaru Outback and a 4x Dodge pickup with sand in the back for weight. Of the two, the Subaru is my first choice for driving in snow or ice. The car handles really nicely through just about anything while the truck feels much less stable.
     
  7. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Tires are 90% of what you need. Can get studded tires there? 4x4 can get you into more trouble than it can get you out of if you don't drive to the conditions and have good tires. Lots of Chev/GMG s10's blazers around here, good bang for the buck, but no Toyota.
     
  8. doc623

    doc623 Well-Known Member

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    Snow fine.
    Ain't nothing good on ice except maybe chains.
     
  9. nodak3

    nodak3 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    After years in Wyoming and North Dakota, and now the Colorado mountains, front wheel drive is what I would choose over 4x4 anyday! Get yourself some studded snow tires and a good set of chains, and learn to put them on!
     
  10. stanb999

    stanb999 Well-Known Member

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    Don't weight down a pickup with sand, stone, or anything else. A 4X4 will go in the snow/mud well. But if you add weight it won't stop as well. Thats the real problem. Any 4X4 or front wheel drive car will go well. Just get what you want. Make sure you have good tires and it is serviced. Go slow and be carefull. Have fun at the new homestead. :)
     
  11. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I must live not terribly far from where you're looking, Amelia. I drive a Jeep Wrangler with studded tires in winter and we are off the main roads where the plows are late getting to us. We have no problems with it or our 4X4 Suburban. The f350 Dually needs sand bags in the back on snowy roads.
     
  12. Darren

    Darren Still an :censored:

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    Another vote for front wheel drive with the right tires unless you're going off-road in mud. That's the only time I use a 4x4.
     
  13. roadrash

    roadrash Well-Known Member

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    Make mine a 4x4 SUV or truck,front wheel drive might get ya by if its all ya got!Slippery inclines and deep snow is where the four wheel drive and additional ground clearance will get you through stuff a front wheel drive will not.
     
  14. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    A subaru wagon with fold down seats and good tires....

    I've had my wagon where the game warden could not get through.....he had to walk to help pull the deer out....

    Also with the seats down you can haul as much as a small toyota tacoma with a cap on (my dad has a toyota 2wd which he does nt drive in winter).

    24-26 mpg ...... safety priceless!
     
  15. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    I drive a front wheel drive van now, not necessarily by choice, but the Toyota 93 half ton I had got me through severe winters in N. W. Ontario rural just fine. Usually I drove it in 2 wheel drive with anti lock breaks helps prevents skidding on ice roads, and 4 wheel drive locked in sometimes for snowpack. Best vehicle I ever had for winters here and with a moderate set of the larger all terrain tires served very well year round. If I could afford it, I'de get a tacoma.
     
  16. roadrash

    roadrash Well-Known Member

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    I had an 87 toyota 4x4,I finally had to retire it in 98 due to rust.Mine had the 22r 4 cyl. The thing had 225,000 miles on it when I sold it for $500.It still ran like a top but the box was gone,frame was close to gone.Bought a 98 blazer which I still drive.The Toyota and the Blazer will go through just about anything with good tires that you should be trying to go through.The only time I have had my blazer stuck I got off the edge of a gulley (thought I was gonna roll it)took cummalongs to get it out!Those subarus are for soccermoms!They are way overpriced and they do not have anywhere near the carrying or towing capacity of a Toyota tacoma! :)
     
  17. bill not in oh

    bill not in oh Well-Known Member

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    OK - vehicle specific.... I spent 5 years in the southern mountains in New Mexico - 5-8 feet of snow/year 12-24" at a time - limited plowing. Stuck my Jeep Wrangler once - got itself out. Need a trailer to haul anything, but I pulled a bunch of Subarus and SUVs out of snow banks (more SUVs than Subarus). And yes, tires do make a difference... Strictly getting from point A to point B - Jeeps rule!
     
  18. Pyrenees

    Pyrenees Well-Known Member

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    I live at 9000' in Colorado...4Runners are the most popular vehicle around here. I'm no mechanic but my understanding is they are built on the same chassis as Tocamas. It sounds like you will need some clearance so a Tacoma would be a good reliable choice if you get her weighted down. With lighter vehicles good snow tires are a must. I drive a 4Runner on a 2.5" lift and on inclines (which are plentiful around here) I have great clearance, but due to lack of weight would be sliding bass ackwards without my snowtires. Nokian Hakkapeliitta's ain't cheap but are the absolute best studded snowtire.
    Cheaper of option of course is chains...but a major PITA.
     
  19. Laura

    Laura Well-Known Member

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    I've spent almost my whole life in snow and ice and driven every kind of vehicle imaginable, including big ol' snowplows.

    Subaru 4x4 wagons are absolutely the BEST for snowy, icey mountain roads and iced up intersections in town.
     
  20. Quint

    Quint Well-Known Member

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    I prefer a 4 wheel drive. My front wheel drives were ok but had problems as far as ground clearance was concerned. Lots of times I simply got high centered in the drifts.

    About tires. Especially on a truck. Radical mud tires make lousy snow tires. A good snow tire is one with interlocking tread with lots siping interlocking edges.

    Examples:

    This is an example of a good mud tire but a substandard snow tire
    http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires...&partnum=275R6DESTMT&fromCompare1=yes&place=2


    This is an excellent snow tire but not so good in the mud
    http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires...3&vehicleSearch=true&fromCompare1=yes&place=1

    When it gets really icy I slap on a set of chains. Nothing beats a set of chains in glare ice other than just staying home.

    BTW for all of you in snow country. A friend of mine highly recommended these as snow tires. They are outstanding in the snow and wear like iron.

    http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires.jsp?tireMake=BFGoodrich&tireModel=All-Terrain+T/A+KO

    I'd consider a set but they don't come in my size.