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Studs in the winter?
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And.reg
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Sep 8, 2016, 01:34 PM
 
Still on the fence but where I am, half of our many heavy duty winter storms are essentially ice storms. We have various hills and backroads, and unsatisfactorily plowed roads in the winter.
To prepare for the winter season, is it worth it to get studded winter tires, or just get non-studded winter tires and go slow? I understand that winter tire technology has evolved over the last few decades but has it truly surpassed studs on different kinds of ice?

(Oh and by the way, I am serious to ask my questions. I have researched this issue for over 100 hours with articles (biased and less-biased), demos, videos, and personal experiences being in other people's cars with and without studs. Most of the discussion that I find covers through 2012, and there is not much on newer tires such as Michelin Xi3, Nokian R2, 8, etc., so I am looking for CURRENT discussion. The last time that I started a thread on a driver-sensitive topic, it got locked. DO NOT allow that to happen again.)
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Thorzdad
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Sep 8, 2016, 08:45 PM
 
I live in an area with poor snow and ice removal and do fine without studded tires. Many locales don't allow studs on the roads, as well.
     
turtle777
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Sep 8, 2016, 08:57 PM
 
Is your car 4WD ?

If yes, you are probably fine with just winter tires w/o studs.

If your car is RWD, and the rod situation is bad, studs might be worth it (if allowed).

-t
     
OreoCookie
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Sep 9, 2016, 12:02 AM
 
I have lived in the South of Germany for many, many years, and frequently went to Austria for skiing. Unless you have a permanent layer of ice on the road, regular winter tires suffice. Of course, depending on how bad it gets, you might want to leave snow chains in your trunk. In any case, you should check whether studded tires are allowed in your jurisdiction, they are sometimes forbidden as they increase the wear of the road.
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andi*pandi
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Sep 9, 2016, 10:33 AM
 
I agree good winter tires + chains if you live in someplace that needs them, like the Rockies.

I make do in MA with just all weather and AWD.
     
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Sep 9, 2016, 11:05 AM
 
For truck and full size SUV's.


Track N Go | Track N Go

It's a Canadian company where this type of equipment is a must have. The fishing lodge I have been to is outside of Souix Falls Ontario. The manager told me in the winter the mail comes by dog sled.
     
And.reg  (op)
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Sep 9, 2016, 09:18 PM
 
I've never used tire chains on my little FWD. I haven't checked much into tire chains. How difficult are they to use and store? How fast can I go on them? Do I just keep them on my tires all winter? What kind of damage would chains due to the road? What about my car's suspension/shocks?
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Thorzdad
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Sep 9, 2016, 09:52 PM
 
Generally, no, you don't leave chains on all winter. They tend to be used only in really bad conditions. The problem with chains, as well as studs, is that they both can damage the pavement. They also negatively affect handling on dry roads (which you will certainly encounter in winter from time to time)
     
OreoCookie
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Sep 11, 2016, 10:39 AM
 
Originally Posted by And.reg View Post
I've never used tire chains on my little FWD. I haven't checked much into tire chains. How difficult are they to use and store? How fast can I go on them? Do I just keep them on my tires all winter? What kind of damage would chains due to the road? What about my car's suspension/shocks?
Chains are only put on if you need them. On dry roads they worsen the handling and they significantly increase noise as well as damage to the roads. I don't know whether where you live there are restrictions put upon their use but in my experience there usually is. They also limit your top speeds. The chains I have used were really easy to put on and take off, and they are very, very effective if the road surface is covered with a lot of snow and ice. Chains are dead easy to store and relatively compact. In my experience, I have only had to use snow chains if there was heavy snow fall, and it couldn't be cleared away in time.

Nevertheless, chains are not a substitute for real winter tires. Not all weather tires that are also rated to handle snow, no, proper winter tires. Not only is the tread pattern different, also the rubber is softer (because its optimal operating temperatures is lower than that of summer or all weather tires). Winter tires make a huge difference from too dangerous to drive to perfectly normal to drive. This is especially true if your vehicle is powerful and has a lot of torque.

If I were you, I'd go for a good set of winter tires plus snow chains.
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The Final Shortcut
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Sep 11, 2016, 07:02 PM
 
I'd be curious how many in this thread have actually driven with winter studs.

They make a significant difference if you're allowed to use them. If you want to spend some $ for good winter tires then you'll already be very well equipped. But you'll find that most people in truly tough winter weather conditions tend to stud if allowed.
     
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Sep 11, 2016, 07:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Shortcut View Post
I'd be curious how many in this thread have actually driven with winter studs.
I haven't because they simply weren't allowed where I had lived.
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Sep 11, 2016, 08:44 PM
 
Yeah, they're really hard on the roads. And you get the usual idiots who won't bother to change over their tires when it warms up and cause even more pavement damage.

I ran them for the four years prior to the past winter, in a very tough and hilly Atlantic winter climate. No need for them in flat central Canada - winter tires are fine.
     
P
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Sep 12, 2016, 05:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Is your car 4WD ?

If yes, you are probably fine with just winter tires w/o studs.

If your car is RWD, and the rod situation is bad, studs might be worth it (if allowed).
Speaking as someone from a land of ice and snow with laws on winter tires, annual car maintenance inspections and spot checks on tire quality by police every now and then to drive the point home...

In general, you need some form of traction control to be OK without studs. RWD might not be enough even with traction control, but FWD is fine. Traction control is actually a really good safety enhancement, statistically - better than ABS, as that tends to make people drive faster because they don't feel like they're losing control.

Personally I had studs on my last car but switched to winter tires without studs for this one, which has traction control.
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P
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Sep 12, 2016, 05:46 AM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Shortcut View Post
I'd be curious how many in this thread have actually driven with winter studs.

They make a significant difference if you're allowed to use them. If you want to spend some $ for good winter tires then you'll already be very well equipped. But you'll find that most people in truly tough winter weather conditions tend to stud if allowed.
I have driven both with and without, for years. My experience is that studs certainly help, but modern cars with FWD or AWD, ABS and traction control has decreased the need for them, to the point where real winter tires (marked M+S at least in Europe) is sufficient. Accident statistics back this up.
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turtle777
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Sep 12, 2016, 06:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
In general, you need some form of traction control to be OK without studs. RWD might not be enough even with traction control, but FWD is fine. Traction control is actually a really good safety enhancement, statistically - better than ABS, as that tends to make people drive faster because they don't feel like they're losing control.
.
Absolutely.

But even with traction control, you might get stranded if all you have is RWD and all-season tires.

I have seen BMW stuck on moderate inclines, while FWD cars with similar all-season tires made it.

PS. F$&@ you autocorrect. It's tires, not tired. WTF ?

-t
     
OreoCookie
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Sep 12, 2016, 07:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Absolutely.

But even with traction control, you might get stranded if all you have is RWD and all-season tires.

I have seen BMW stuck on moderate inclines, while FWD cars with similar all-season tires made it.
Even with winter tires, RWD cars, especially powerful ones, are at a disadvantage on icy roads in certain situations. The back fights with traction (you don't have an engine sitting on top of your wheels providing you with more traction) while the front gets pushed around. When I was a child my father had a very nice E320 wagon, and after we got stuck on the bottom of a small hill one time in winter, we would often take my mom's Golf instead.
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Chongo
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Sep 12, 2016, 08:24 PM
 
??
     
The Final Shortcut
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Sep 13, 2016, 09:33 AM
 
RWD is useless in serious snow, especially on any sort of incline at all.

FWD is much better on flat ground but again quickly becomes limited when you have hills. I think FWD seems to most benefit from studded tires.

Neither compares to AWD. Our FWD car with studded winter tires could not even hold a candle to our AWD Subaru with non-studded winter tires. However, I would recommend studs on an AWD if there tends to be a lot of sheet ice or travelling down steep hills - in both situations studs have a noticeable advantage.
     
Laminar
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Sep 13, 2016, 10:34 AM
 
The unfortunate thing about AWD is lugging around the differential, axles, and parasitic drag every other day of the year that it's not snowy. Of course the tradeoff becomes easier to swallow the snowier your area, but I'd be so bold as to say that reeeally far north in the US before it makes sense.
     
turtle777
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Sep 13, 2016, 12:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
The unfortunate thing about AWD is lugging around the differential, axles, and parasitic drag every other day of the year that it's not snowy. Of course the tradeoff becomes easier to swallow the snowier your area, but I'd be so bold as to say that reeeally far north in the US before it makes sense.
Well, I'd take AWD for traction in wet weather all year round.

-t
     
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Sep 13, 2016, 12:50 PM
 
Originally Posted by Chongo View Post
??
Talk to your blacksmith about getting quality snow shoes for your horse for winter.
Winter Horse Shoeing
     
Laminar
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Sep 14, 2016, 12:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Well, I'd take AWD for traction in wet weather all year round.

-t
Really? The amount of acceleration required to break a set of quality tires loose in the wet is well in excess of normal driving.
     
turtle777
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Sep 17, 2016, 12:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
Really? The amount of acceleration required to break a set of quality tires loose in the wet is well in excess of normal driving.
*shrug*

I don't know, got Pirelli Cinturato P7plus on my RWD BMW Diesel, it frequently sends the wheels spinning in heavy rain after a complete stop.
Tires have a 9.1 rating for wet traction on TireRack.

Maybe I'm driving it wrong.

Rarely have that happen with my wife's A4 Quattro.

-t
     
subego
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Sep 18, 2016, 02:49 PM
 
Is it a problem other times in wet weather, or just when you gun it from a full stop?
     
turtle777
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Sep 18, 2016, 05:19 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Is it a problem other times in wet weather, or just when you gun it from a full stop?
Mainly in that scenario.
I get occasional slippage in other cases, but traction control is pretty good, and often I only notice it when the TC light comes on for a brief moment.

-t
     
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Sep 18, 2016, 11:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
Really? The amount of acceleration required to break a set of quality tires loose in the wet is well in excess of normal driving.
On a dry, clean road surface, yes. But not if you are encountering weather, then one or two wheels may lose the majority of their traction. On an icy road my father's Mercedes 320 TE could easily cripple itself: it lost traction, so the ESP would cut engine power, and he wouldn't go anywhere. There have been plenty of accidents where in torrential rain one of the tires lost traction due to aquaplaning and the car would spiral out of control. Plus, with all-wheel drive, you can stabilize your car more easily by steering in the direction you want to accelerate towards and getting on the gas.
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turtle777
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Sep 19, 2016, 01:07 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
There have been plenty of accidents where in torrential rain one of the tires lost traction due to aquaplaning and the car would spiral out of control.
Yes, this.

Some of the local highways don't drain very well, so it's not uncommon to have a few inches of water at the side of the road if there's a downpour. Often, due to the road being tilted a little bit, only your left or right wheels would be driving in a few inches of water, whereas the other wheels are on wet surface with no water accumulation.

In those situations, my RWD BMW feels absolutely unstable, and the Audi Quattro feels like on tracks compared to the BMW.

Type of tires doesn't matter much in those circumstances.

-t
     
Laminar
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Sep 19, 2016, 10:38 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
On a dry, clean road surface, yes. But not if you are encountering weather, then one or two wheels may lose the majority of their traction.
Not on roads that are just wet.

There have been plenty of accidents where in torrential rain one of the tires lost traction due to aquaplaning and the car would spiral out of control.
That's not helped by all wheel drive.

Plus, with all-wheel drive, you can stabilize your car more easily by steering in the direction you want to accelerate towards and getting on the gas.
That's how front wheel drive works, too, only better. With all wheel drive, the rear wheels are still pushing the direction that the car is pointed, not the direction that the front wheels are pointed.
     
Laminar
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Sep 19, 2016, 10:39 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
I don't know, got Pirelli Cinturato P7plus on my RWD BMW Diesel, it frequently sends the wheels spinning in heavy rain after a complete stop.
-t
That's probably a result of having 400+lb-ft at basically 0 rpm.
     
subego
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Sep 19, 2016, 11:33 AM
 
Where's the "Bitches in Winter" thread?
     
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Sep 19, 2016, 11:47 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Type of tires doesn't matter much in those circumstances.
Resistance to hydroplaning is a HUGE factor in tire design.
     
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Sep 19, 2016, 12:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
Resistance to hydroplaning is a HUGE factor in tire design.
Yes, but you can't change the laws of physics. In the example video all four wheels are on the wet surface. In many situations water collects in the lane grooves and you lose traction not on all four wheels but only one or two. Moreover, AWD vehicles have less force on each of the tire surface patches, so the threshold for something to go wrong is higher. Plus, depending on the differentials your AWD vehicle sports you have more freedom to distribute the power to all four wheels — rather than just two.
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Sep 19, 2016, 12:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Where's the "Bitches in Winter" thread?
     
turtle777
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Sep 19, 2016, 01:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
That's probably a result of having 400+lb-ft at basically 0 rpm.
Yes, and on two rather than 4 wheels, at that.

-t
     
Laminar
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Sep 19, 2016, 02:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Yes, but you can't change the laws of physics. In the example video all four wheels are on the wet surface.
Sorry, I'm not sure what that video is demonstrating.

In many situations water collects in the lane grooves and you lose traction not on all four wheels but only one or two. Moreover, AWD vehicles have less force on each of the tire surface patches, so the threshold for something to go wrong is higher.
I'll assert that sending any power to the rear wheels is a much greater threat to stability than some tiny fraction of power needed to keep the car moving at a steady speed.

Plus, depending on the differentials your AWD vehicle sports you have more freedom to distribute the power to all four wheels — rather than just two.
My assertion is that any power to the rear wheels pushes the car in the direction that it's pointing, not in the direction that you're pointing the front wheels. Stability control can already apply braking power to any wheel it wants, which is a much more effective way to straighten out a car that's sideways.
     
And.reg  (op)
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Oct 4, 2016, 07:03 AM
 
After seeing videos such as these:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PddyzHgQufI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZHTAmxElSA

I really do not see how studs are really that much better than other winter tires on ice.

But with traction control:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4NAI0b1et8

It almost seems as if traction control helps more on the ice than the studs will help... and I imagine that traction control would be far better than studs on tarmac and slush.
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Thorzdad
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Oct 4, 2016, 08:15 AM
 
Traction control is the bomb, year-round.
Honestly, around here, you pretty much never see anyone with studs other than bubbas in their big rollin' coal monster trucks.
     
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Oct 4, 2016, 10:43 AM
 
the hardest tires I've ever tried to make slip have never broken on just wet pavement, even at 3 years/65,000 miles. Michelin Pilot Sport AS. I drive a Jetta 2.0 w/Turbo wagon.
     
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Oct 4, 2016, 11:25 AM
 
Pilot Sport AS's are muther-effin amazing tires. Period. Full-stop. I had two sets on my old Maxima 5-speed and could race that thing anywhere, in any condition. They simply stuck, and gave you so much confidence. Just amazing tires. Damned expensive, too, depending on size. Maximas had some odd size that was hard to find in a decent tire. I think they stopped making PS's in the needed size last time it was time to replace them.

I'd love to put a set on my GTI 1.8t. Right now I have a set of Michelins made specifically for Discount Tire (Destiny) and it's been a great tire. It's only now starting to show wear and slippage after just under 60,000 miles.

I've never had a bad set of Michelins.
     
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Oct 4, 2016, 11:52 AM
 
I'm glad this thread popped up again, because just this week I had something happen that got me thinking again.

I was on one of those full-circle onramps to get me down onto the interstate. In my Focus with aggressive summer tires. The weather is misty and damp, just enough to make the road super greasy. Near the end of the circle in third gear at about 40mph I hit the gas. The front tires instantly lost traction and the car understeered and pushed toward the outside of the road. Traction control cut power from the engine to slow down the front tires. Stability control braked the inside rear wheel to rotate the car and get it moving in the direction that the front wheels were pointing.

What would have happened with AWD? Well when I hit the gas, the rear wheels would push the car in the direction it's pointing, not the direction that the front wheels were pointing, meaning greater understeer. Or if the rear tires broke traction too, then I'd be in a four wheel drift. Traction control would cut power, stability control would brake the inside wheels to rotate the car. At no point would the car add power to any wheel to correct the problem.

I'm just not seeing how AWD would have helped my situation.
     
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Oct 5, 2016, 02:44 AM
 
AWD would have helped in that it would have sent less power to the front wheels (because that power is going to the rears), making them less likely to lose traction in the first place.
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Oct 5, 2016, 10:53 AM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
AWD would have helped in that it would have sent less power to the front wheels (because that power is going to the rears), making them less likely to lose traction in the first place.
My speed around the turn meant that the front tires were at the edge of traction anyway and any power would overcome them. Also, like I said, power sent to the rear wheels would cause the car to push even worse - just look at any Subaru trying to autocross and ask them how much they love their understeer.
     
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Oct 5, 2016, 11:01 AM
 
I aquaplaned on a similar entry ramp once, and ended up doing a 1080 into traffic. Fun times.
     
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Oct 5, 2016, 01:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
AWD would have helped in that it would have sent less power to the front wheels (because that power is going to the rears), making them less likely to lose traction in the first place.
Plus, many modern AWDs can distribute the torque amongst the four wheels quite arbitrarily, so manufacturers can give their vehicles any characteristic they want (e. g. front or rear wheel bias).
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
My speed around the turn meant that the front tires were at the edge of traction anyway and any power would overcome them. Also, like I said, power sent to the rear wheels would cause the car to push even worse - just look at any Subaru trying to autocross and ask them how much they love their understeer.
In the circumstances you describe, you'd have more leeway in an AWD vehicle as you might not have lost traction in the first place — that's the main advantage of AWD after all. You do have a point, though: at the limit FWD, RWD and AWD behave differently, and how to recover best from lack of traction depends very much on the type of vehicle you drive. With AWD vehicles, that also depends on how the torque is split between front and rear axles. An AWD vehicle for the mass market (i. e. not a Ken Blockian 4WD drift machine) is usually calibrated to be neutral and understeer, because regular people do not know how to drift. Nor should they.
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Laminar
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Oct 5, 2016, 02:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
In the circumstances you describe, you'd have more leeway in an AWD vehicle as you might not have lost traction in the first place — that's the main advantage of AWD after all. You do have a point, though: at the limit FWD, RWD and AWD behave differently, and how to recover best from lack of traction depends very much on the type of vehicle you drive.
Totally. So my assertion in all of this is that FWD is has the best failure mode - pure understeer - and the best recovery plan - slow down, which happens naturally as you let off the gas/slam the brakes. Any amount of oversteer means you need to work the throttle, brake, and steering to recover, otherwise you're doing a 1080 into oncoming traffic. My the next car I plan to buy is available with AWD but you can bet I'll be getting FWD only.
     
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Oct 5, 2016, 02:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
Totally. So my assertion in all of this is that FWD is has the best failure mode - pure understeer - and the best recovery plan - …
But with an AWD vehicle you have grip when FWD/RWD cars have already lost traction.
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
… slow down, which happens naturally as you let off the gas/slam the brakes.
Slam the brakes!?! That's a sure way of losing all the traction you've left. Learnt that the hard way my first winter driving.
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
Any amount of oversteer means you need to work the throttle, brake, and steering to recover, otherwise you're doing a 1080 into oncoming traffic.
I don't I get your argument here: in any car you have to use throttle, brake and steering to recover from a dangerous situation. How you do that best, depends on the type of drive train, but no matter the drive train, I think most of us won't be able to, because it isn't something that is taught at driving schools. (Perhaps in nordic countries it is, but at least it isn't in the US and Germany.)
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Oct 5, 2016, 02:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
But with an AWD vehicle you have grip when FWD/RWD cars have already lost traction.
In a straight line, FWD and appropriate tires are all you need for driving and accelerating at normal speeds. When turning, AWD can contribute to loss of traction through pushing the car into understeer or losing grip and inducing oversteer.

Slam the brakes!?! That's a sure way of losing all the traction you've left. Learnt that the hard way my first winter driving.
I'm sure during your first winter driving you didn't have a 2015 model with stability control, traction control, and ABS. Today, driving in adverse conditions with FWD is a piece of cake and requires almost no thought.

I don't I get your argument here: in any car you have to use throttle, brake and steering to recover from a dangerous situation.
Go back to my anecdote and my explanation. The worst thing any FWD car will do is understeer. Understeer is solved by slowing down - no steering or throttle input needed. If the same scenario had happened in my M3 it would have been 100x more terrifying and dangerous.

Subaru, Audi, and others have done a great job of convincing people that AWD is necessary, or even helpful. It helps full-throttle acceleration in a straight line in high power cars or normal cars in low traction environments. This is a tiny fraction of a percent of the average driver's time.
     
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Oct 5, 2016, 04:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
In a straight line, FWD and appropriate tires are all you need for driving and accelerating at normal speeds.
At “normal” speeds and in good conditions, yes, you need only 2WD, AWD gives you an advantage if you are losing traction for one reason or another.
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
When turning, AWD can contribute to loss of traction through pushing the car into understeer or losing grip and inducing oversteer.
It sounds to me as if you are comparing a well-calibrated FWD car with a badly calibrated AWD car.
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
I'm sure during your first winter driving you didn't have a 2015 model with stability control, traction control, and ABS. Today, driving in adverse conditions with FWD is a piece of cake and requires almost no thought.
Yes, the progress that's been made with modern assistants is remarkable, but they can't break the laws of physics. No matter the technology that is in your car, breaking hard is the worst thing you can do when you are close to or have already lost traction. Inputs should be as smooth as possible.
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
Go back to my anecdote and my explanation. The worst thing any FWD car will do is understeer.
Unless, of course, you don't want to go in a straight line, you want to make a turn instead. (That's what happened to me back then: I wanted to go around the corner, not slide into another parked car.)
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Oct 5, 2016, 05:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
At “normal” speeds and in good conditions, yes, you need only 2WD, AWD gives you an advantage if you are losing traction for one reason or another.
I didn't say good conditions. In my wife's FWD car with Blizzaks, I change nothing about acceleration rate, stopping distance, and turning speeds on snow-covered roads.

I'll say it again - AWD is useful for aggressive acceleration in a straight line in low-traction situations. Only.

It sounds to me as if you are comparing a well-calibrated FWD car with a badly calibrated AWD car.
Why well-calibrated FWD? The only FWD cars that oversteer any appreciable amount from the factory are higher performance cars like the Focus ST.

Yes, the progress that's been made with modern assistants is remarkable, but they can't break the laws of physics.
You keep bringing up the laws of physics as some sort of weird appeal to authority, but I think you just don't understand the physics of how cars work.

No matter the technology that is in your car, breaking hard is the worst thing you can do when you are close to or have already lost traction. Inputs should be as smooth as possible.
When I mentioned slamming the brakes, I was referring to the average person's natural instinct when something goes wrong. Stability control and ABS make sure that nothing goes wrong, so slamming the brakes in a modern car is fine. The assists will modulate braking power per wheel to keep the car pointed where you want it to go. Fixing oversteer requires modulating steering, throttle, and brakes. Fixing understeer requires slamming on the brakes.

Unless, of course, you don't want to go in a straight line, you want to make a turn instead. (That's what happened to me back then: I wanted to go around the corner, not slide into another parked car.)
I've said this over and over again - AWD will NOT help you turn. Aside from a handful of exotics like the 919 or new NSX, AWD systems are relatively dumb and almost entirely reactive - Quattro, X-Drive, whatever, I don't care. Yes, power can be transferred between axles and individual wheels, but only in response to detected slippage, which means that your AWD has already contributed to understeer or oversteer. If you are understeering toward an obstacle, absolutely no power should be applied, so at that point your drive method doesn't help you at all. Stability control and/or ABS will brake the inside wheels to rotate the car in the direction that the front wheels are pointing, getting you out of understeer. AWD does not help.

Let’s look at all wheel drive’s best case scenario: RallyCross, because MY SUBARU IS RALLY-BRED. For those of you unfamiliar with RallyCross, it’s like AutoCross but way worse for people with allergies and with 800% more Subarus. Review the 2015 RallyCross Nationals results. Here’s what you’ll find – the national RallyCross champion for stock front wheel drive cars in 2015 was a Plymouth Neon.

But if you would have put that Neon in the stock all wheel drive class – up against Evos, WRXs, STIs, and any number of Imprezas – he would have gotten blown away, right? Nope. He would have come in second place.

“Oh but those cars are stock. Once you really get the horsepower pumping you definitely need all wheel drive.” First place in the Modified Front Wheel Drive class was an ’88 Civic. Put him in the Modified AWD class with full-on rally-prepped mega-turbocharged cars where the only rule limiting modifications is that you have to have a functional driver’s door. That ’88 Civic also gets second place, blowing away 600+ horsepower AWD full-on rally cars.

So if you put all wheel drive car in a scenario where it theoretically has the greatest possible advantage – high speed and low traction, it wins, but only barely. Certainly not by enough that you, an average dude, would be able to tell the difference. And definitely not by enough that your 148hp CrossTrek should be dragging a couple hundred pounds of differentials and axles for the 99.99% of the time when you’re not breaking traction.
     
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Oct 6, 2016, 05:09 AM
 
If you're arguing that the difference between FWD and AWD is small enough on good roads to make the weight of the AWD system unnecessary, then sure, I can agree with that. You don't need AWD in the way that car ads make it seem sometimes. That doesn't mean that AWD doesn't have advantages when your grip is poor.
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