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Old 01-25-2020, 08:00 PM   #1
dougtheslug
 
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Default 4x4 easy to get stuck in snow

I have a 2019 cargo 4x4 with the stock M&S tires. Since they aren't super aggressive studded snow tires like the Hakkapeliitta tires I have on my VW Jetta I'm not expecting crazy good grip on snow - but I was surprised at how little hill angle let me get stuck.

The part that worried me was that even with 4x4 low engaged I could fairly easily get to a place that allowed one front wheel to spin in snow and the other front wheel to remain unmoving on a patch of gravel. I would have expected more braking action on the spinning wheel thereby transferring power to the wheel with grip.

Rear wheels were also doing similar things - one wheel spinning while the other sat idle. The van seemed to me to be acting as if it had completely open differentials on the front and back.

Am I missing something here? I didn't purposefully turn off any features that would have put the brakes on the spinning wheel (I don't even know if you can do such a thing).

Thanks for your ideas!
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Old 01-25-2020, 08:40 PM   #2
Michlb
 
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Default Re: 4x4 easy to get stuck in snow

There are better experts than me on 4x4, but I put Blizzaks on my 2019 RWD and 400 lbs in the back, and it made a huge difference. With 65% of the torque going to the back on the 4x4, I think you should think about putting weight in the back as well. Happy to provide details how we did this safely without any moving parts flying around in case of emergency braking.

And yes, my understanding is that the 4x4 has open diffs front and back.

This may be helpful too https://youtu.be/WsqUK_R9v_w

I think the general rule is: Sprinter 4x4 is not great in snow but still better than RWD. Worth the money? Hard to say.
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Old 01-25-2020, 10:11 PM   #3
dougtheslug
 
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Default Re: 4x4 easy to get stuck in snow

The video is pretty much what I experienced also. A little disappointing, but looks like Blizzaks are in order for next year.
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Old 01-25-2020, 10:52 PM   #4
Michlb
 
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Default Re: 4x4 easy to get stuck in snow

One tip from RWD driving and starting on packed snow: Accelerate very gently until you get some speed. Once the van is moving, it is pretty much unstoppable. I have managed to get up some pretty steep hills as long as i wasnít forced to stop. I also found that disabling the ESP provided some help in certain situations where I could brute-force my way out of a slippery spot.

I think one advantage that the 4x4 should provide to you is that the front is steerable. Thatís one big disadvantage of the RWDs where you may get traction, but the van slips sideways.

Many people on the forum have said that 4x4 with Blizzaks was a game changer.
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Old 01-26-2020, 06:43 AM   #5
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Default Re: 4x4 easy to get stuck in snow

Quote:
Originally Posted by dougtheslug View Post
I have a 2019 cargo 4x4 with the stock M&S tires. Since they aren't super aggressive studded snow tires like the Hakkapeliitta tires I have on my VW Jetta I'm not expecting crazy good grip on snow - but I was surprised at how little hill angle let me get stuck.

The part that worried me was that even with 4x4 low engaged I could fairly easily get to a place that allowed one front wheel to spin in snow and the other front wheel to remain unmoving on a patch of gravel. I would have expected more braking action on the spinning wheel thereby transferring power to the wheel with grip.

Rear wheels were also doing similar things - one wheel spinning while the other sat idle. The van seemed to me to be acting as if it had completely open differentials on the front and back.

Am I missing something here? I didn't purposefully turn off any features that would have put the brakes on the spinning wheel (I don't even know if you can do such a thing).

Thanks for your ideas!
You are missing snow tires, for a dedicated snow tires get a set of Blizzaks or MichelinIceXís. Donít get sucked into the myth that 4x4 will make a vehicle invincible in winter.
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Old 01-26-2020, 06:17 PM   #6
dougtheslug
 
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Default Re: 4x4 easy to get stuck in snow

Yeah, I wasn't looking for invincible but it seems like it would work a ton better if the wheel without traction was braked a little harder. That should transfer power over to wheels that have traction.

Watching a Subaru climb muddy, rutted out hills is fun to watch: As soon as a wheel gets off the ground it spins for a half second and then just locks up as the AWD system puts the brakes on that wheel. When that happens you can see the car move forward as the opposite wheel that is on the ground picks up the power. Open diffs on front and back on those cars and they kick a$$ getting up some crazy stuff.


I'll be getting Blizzaks next year.

Last edited by dougtheslug; 01-26-2020 at 06:22 PM.
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Old 01-26-2020, 06:39 PM   #7
VanGoSki
 
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Default Re: 4x4 easy to get stuck in snow

How much weight did you have in the back of your van when you were having traction issues?
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Old 01-26-2020, 08:30 PM   #8
dougtheslug
 
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Default Re: 4x4 easy to get stuck in snow

Very little. It's a cargo van that I am just starting to build it into a camper.

I'm sure being light makes the van grip less for sure. Weight would definitely help, but so would better braking on the slipping wheel.

Last edited by dougtheslug; 01-27-2020 at 12:53 AM.
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Old 01-26-2020, 09:05 PM   #9
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Default Re: 4x4 easy to get stuck in snow

Quote:
Originally Posted by dougtheslug View Post
Yeah, I wasn't looking for invincible but it seems like it would work a ton better if the wheel without traction was braked a little harder. That should transfer power over to wheels that have traction.

Watching a Subaru climb muddy, rutted out hills is fun to watch: As soon as a wheel gets off the ground it spins for a half second and then just locks up as the AWD system puts the brakes on that wheel. When that happens you can see the car move forward as the opposite wheel that is on the ground picks up the power. Open diffs on front and back on those cars and they kick a$$ getting up some crazy stuff.


I'll be getting Blizzaks next year.
I have Yokohama Geolanders on my Outback and they have been pretty good as a all year around tires. I am thinking about swapping the stock tires on Sprinter with Michelin Agilis Cross Climate, its a pain to swap tires since we only need winter tires for occasional trips to the mountains. I may just carry traction socks thingy as a backup just in case.
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Old 01-26-2020, 09:17 PM   #10
Michlb
 
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Default Re: 4x4 easy to get stuck in snow

From a RWD owner who needs to swap tires: It is indeed disappointing that you would also need to do this for half-way serious snow applications of the 4x4. Of course, in California the 4x4 still allows you to pass chain controls, but the additional $8000 just for this convenience is maybe justified for some, but I would again think about it (but likely still buy the 4x4 if I had the opportunity).

No doubt that the 4x4 runs safer on snow, as long as itís not stuck. But my RWD with Blizzaks is pretty good too. Obviously, there are these moments when it is well-advised to chain up, irrespective of chain control.

I get the feeling that if you want to take the van into messy terrain in summer it is a good investment. But just for snow (my major use case), it seems questionable (but still would have bought the 4x4 just for resale value).

Iím curious what we hear about Transit AWD application. So far, the pictures and stories that are shared about use of the AWD through ďmajor snow stormsĒ is a bit of a joke. The Transit seems to have a more modern system that allows to quickly shift torque between the wheels. Or so they say ...
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