By David Austin
4 wheel driving on ice and snow

We are enjoying plenty of winter weather this year here in Oklahoma and across the country. We have not been hit with all the monster storms that we have been promised by our trusty weather forcaster, but we have had our share of slick roads this winter. I know that you all have heard people comment that a 4 wheel drive has no advantage over any other vehicle on ice, but I wanted to give you my thoughts on that subject.

STARTING ON HILLS: There is not a Swamper for you to stand on as far as a 4WD taking off on ice or snow versus a 2WD vehicle. Too many times I have had to pull out around a line of cars that have stalled out on a hill becuse they are just sitting there spinning their rear wheels and making nice icey patches slicker for the next car in line. Many times I have driven around the backup using the shoulder or even a ditch, giving the 4 wheel drive vehicle a major advantage on hills.

TURNING: This is an issue that involves has more merit on ice than snow. With snow, the 4WD will almost always be putting a more aggressive tire to the ground which will hold traction better. On ice, this is not so much of an advantage because surface contact comes into play, but when a slip does occur, a slight bit of acceleration will help to pull the front of the vehicle around the turn or back onto the road using the 4WD system.

STOPPING: Yes, if you lock your brakes up on ice or snow you will slide and it doesn't matter if you are in a 2WD or 4WD vehicle. If you are braking wrong, then you are going to slide giving the 4WD vehicle no advantage here.

Basically, what I am saying here is, if you are using improper driving techniques it doesn't matter what you are driving because you will probably end up in an accident. Sounds to me that when people are talking about 4WD in the ice and snow, they are talking more about driver error than arguing what is better, 2WD or 4WD on the ice and snow.

I will admit that many 4WD vehicles are involved in accidents on slick roads. I guess that makes sence to me because all the 2WD vehicles are either still stuck at home in the driveway or at the first icy hill they came to, while the 4WD vehicles are actually getting out and making it to work.

In my opinion, there is a definite advantage to being in a 4WD vehicle during those times of bad road conditions. I am not trying to down play some peoples opinions, but when things go wrong and they get stuck, who do they call? The friend with the 4 wheel drive!

God Bles and be careful out on those slick roads.