All-Wheel Drive Could Lead You Into a Ditch

November 16th, 2010

Subaru Forester car accident in snow

Keep an eye on the sky, folks, because snow could start falling at any moment!

In my part of the world, the white stuff will likely make its first appearance of the season within the next couple of days. While that’s great news for snowmen and skiers, it can seriously suck for the ill-prepared driver. Owning a vehicle with all-wheel drive certainly helps matters, but unfortunately AWD doesn’t cure ignorance or stupidity.

The first snowfall of the year always does at least two things:

  1. Brings traffic to a grinding halt
  2. Puts 4X4 Jeep Grand Cherokees and AWD Subaru Foresters into roadside ditches

It’s possible that ditch-bound drivers are new to AWD and simply place too much confidence in its ability to handle slippery conditions. I can see how someone might move from Arizona to Massachusetts and assume picking up a used Forester will cure his or her winter driving problem. Obviously, that’s not how it works.

Yes, AWD systems help a car get going in the ice and snow, but experienced snow drivers sure as heck know it doesn’t help a car stop. If the threat of arctic-worthy snowstorms has you scouring the used car listings in search of an affordable snow rig, keep in mind that picking up an AWD vehicle doesn’t make you invincible in the snow. Drive as carefully as you would in a FWD car, and you’ll be fine. Start getting in a hurry, and before you know it, you’ll be calling a tow truck from the ditch as I drive by and laugh.

If you are looking to buy, check out my list of The 10 Best Vehicles for Snow and Ice, then look ‘em up on DealFinder. You’re bound to find good deals in your area. If you have an AWD vehicle to sell, this is the time of year to get the most money for it! Try pricing it and listing it for sale using the CarGurus PriceCalculator. It’s free!

Do you have any experience driving in snow? Which drivetrain do you prefer: AWD, FWD, or RWD?

-tgriffith

Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Jeep Grand Cherokee
Used Subaru Forester

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  1. randy
    November 16th, 2010 at 12:11 | #1

    Here in Michigan we always enjoy watching the new 4X4 owners plowing the ditches. Most discover pretty quickly that they have just as much trouble stopping as everyone else on a slippery road, although I feel sorry for someone who gets in the way of a lumbering Escalade being hot-footed by a 100 lb blonde with zero driving skills.

    I’ve got many years of winter vehicle testing under my belt, so I’ll crow a bit and say I’ve got much better winter driving skill than most drivers, yet I’ve been in the situation where I suddenly find myself going backwards on a road. Once that happens, you usually can’t do much other than go for the ride. I’m very happy with my choice of winter vehicle, though, a 2006 Chevy Trailblazer 4WD. The Trailblazer is especially stable and well-mannered in light or heavy snow, and the stability system helps keep yaw events from going out of control. I do feel safe putting my wife in the driver’s seat after a little training on how to properly drive a vehicle with 4WD, ABS and stability control.

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