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Front wheel drive vs. rear wheel drive

 
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This is probably question for those who owns a rear wheel drive wehicle.

Is rear wheel drive wehicle with traction control is as secure on the slippery roads as front wheel?
If you own one, and you have driven it in snow, please post your comments.

And how is rear drive wehicle business is doing in Canada? (Because they have lots of snow, they probably know better)

Thank you
 
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Originally posted by Rita Moore:
This is probably question for those who owns a rear wheel drive wehicle.

Is rear wheel drive wehicle with traction control is as secure on the slippery roads as front wheel?
If you own one, and you have driven it in snow, please post your comments.

And how is rear drive wehicle business is doing in Canada? (Because they have lots of snow, they probably know better)

Thank you



I live in Canada and have driven both front and rear drive cars in plenty of snow and ice. If you want good traction and few surprises, get a modern front drive car. Rear drive is great for dry road handling, I owned an Alfa and a BMW, both rear drive, The BMW was ok on snow but the Alfa was like a swan on roller skates. My current front drive Toyota Camry is easy to drive in the snow.

One problem with front drive is that if you do lose control its much more serious, all your rear drive reflexes are no use, you will probably spin out, going from front to rear is a little less demanding. But, if you've never driven rear drive cars you are probably best to stick with front drive.
 
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You might want to check out an all-wheel drive car as well. The last two cars I have purchased are both Subarus(which all have AWD), and I've never driven anything that performs close to them in the snow, with the possible exception of a Benz with 4Matic AWD, but those are a little out of my price range
 
Sania Marsh
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Stick with front forever? One day one has to try, moreover most luxury cars are rear wheel drive.
So as I understand right, even rear wheel can be stable on slippery roads, but how about rear drive with traction control vs rear drive without it?
And what is "Snow" button for in rear wheel wehicles with traction control?
 
Sania Marsh
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Originally posted by Eric Fletcher:
You might want to check out an all-wheel drive car as well. The last two cars I have purchased are both Subarus(which all have AWD), and I've never driven anything that performs close to them in the snow, with the possible exception of a Benz with 4Matic AWD, but those are a little out of my price range



This reminded me of something, no statement, it's just funny that the only car I've ever seen out of control on snow was all wheel SVU. It smashed a stop sign. I think the guy just broke too fast.
Note: I've been driving only one winter.

You are right about 4 wheel drive, but I'm just curous about rear wheel.
[ November 08, 2004: Message edited by: Rita Moore ]
 
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Originally posted by peter wooster:

One problem with front drive is that if you do lose control its much more serious, all your rear drive reflexes are no use, you will probably spin out, going from front to rear is a little less demanding. But, if you've never driven rear drive cars you are probably best to stick with front drive.



Surely not? Having gone through my childish street racing days and somehow managed not to die (although I did total 3 different cars) I can tell you that losing control in a front wheel drive car easier to correct-

In FWD - generally the problem is overhard braking whilst cornering and produces 'understeer' (the front wheels turn but the car keeps going straight). Fortunately, for all but the most insane speed-merchants once the car loses speed (which is does very rapidly) the front wheels will pick up traction (particularly if you take your foot off the brake)and pull the car around the corner...

In RWD the problem is more likely to be on acceleration, over accelerating whilst cornering will produce 'oversteer' where the back of the car slides out wildly. Once this has occurred attempting to get the car pointing in the correct direction can be hard work and often leads to drive 'fish-tailing' down the road as the driver over compensates and swerves left-right all over the road.

Of course RWD or FWD in good conditions with sensible driving you shouldnt encounter either problem!.. and if theres ice and snow on the road then whatever you're driving you could be in for trouble!
 
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I've driven both forward (FWD) and rear-wheel (RWD)drive on snowy roads. My perception is that FWD with manual transmission is the most stable. AWD automatic makes no sense in the snow even with traction control and ABS.

BMW and Mercedes dealers sell special sandbags to put in the trunk to reduce skidding. I've heard it helps a little.
 
peter wooster
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Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:

Surely not? ...



The issue really is that FWD gives the driver a partially false sense of control. When you finally lose it, the situation is usually much worse. with RWD you are certain to have experienced a lot of instability long before you really lose it. I agree that most sane drivers never reach these limits on either.
 
Alex Pakhomov
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In 2001 there was a winter car race in Finland, and all major European and some American brands were represented. To everyone's surprise, the winner was a humble 100 hp FWD Ford Focus.

I actually own an RWD w/traction control & ABS. It's fine most of the time, but there are a few days in February and March when I'd rather drive something else.

Just my 2 cents
 
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Eric, could you please tell more about your experience with Subaru? I am thinking about buying a car, and Impreza WRX is one of the candidates.
 
peter wooster
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Originally posted by Dmitry Melnik:
Eric, could you please tell more about your experience with Subaru? I am thinking about buying a car, and Impreza WRX is one of the candidates.



I've never driven a Subaru, but I know they are very popular in Canada, one of my best friends swears by them and my nephew crashed my brother's Suburu on a 4 lane expressway (dual-carriage way to the Brits) and lived uninjured to tell about it. I believe they are very good northern vehicles.
 
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peter wooster:

The issue really is that FWD gives the driver a partially false sense of control. When you finally lose it, the situation is usually much worse. with RWD you are certain to have experienced a lot of instability long before you really lose it.

I am not convinced. Some rear drive vehicles do lose traction progressively, giving one plenty of time to correct, but others have a reputation for letting go suddenly - for example the Mustang and the 911. Rear drive cars' stability can vary a lot depending on forward/rear weight balance, braking balance, and suspension type. My current rear drive car lets go significantly quicker than my previous one.

I also think that while, as you pointed out, rear drive reflexes don't work in front drive cars, there may be a separate set of reflexes that do work. For example, I found that easing off the throttle when taking a curve at the limit, which stabilizes the typical rear drive car, destabilizes my wife's front drive car in a similar situation. Keeping the power on or even increasing it actually works better, though it would be a certain spin in my own car.
 
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Re Subarus: I like my little Imprezza Outback wagon just fine. It's on the cheap and low powered side after my previous car, but visibility is outstanding, the wagin is very convenient and I like the AWD. One thing I find living in hilly PA, you use AWD charging up the hill in the snow and get over-confident, come down the hill to a stop sign and find out they don't stop any better than 2WD. Aiiieeeee!

I'd love to try a WRX, being a bit of a speed demon. But with that much power and wide tires you can probably forget about snow ... I'd guess you touch the throttle and the car digs four holes. Kid down the street seem to get by ok with his (second one) tho.

My wallpaper right now is a WRC Subaru racer way sideways on the snow. On little tiny skinny tires. For pictures: http://www.swrt.com, latest images.
 
peter wooster
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Originally posted by Warren Dew:
peter wooster:

The issue really is that FWD gives the driver a partially false sense of control. When you finally lose it, the situation is usually much worse. with RWD you are certain to have experienced a lot of instability long before you really lose it.

I am not convinced. Some rear drive vehicles do lose traction progressively, giving one plenty of time to correct, but others have a reputation for letting go suddenly - for example the Mustang and the 911. Rear drive cars' stability can vary a lot depending on forward/rear weight balance, braking balance, and suspension type. My current rear drive car lets go significantly quicker than my previous one.

I also think that while, as you pointed out, rear drive reflexes don't work in front drive cars, there may be a separate set of reflexes that do work. For example, I found that easing off the throttle when taking a curve at the limit, which stabilizes the typical rear drive car, destabilizes my wife's front drive car in a similar situation. Keeping the power on or even increasing it actually works better, though it would be a certain spin in my own car.



I have no quibble with that, power usually helps FWD in bad situations and usually hurts RWD. There are of course exceptions, especially among sports cars, just ask James Dean about the Porche 356 which shared the same swing axle that made the Corvair "unsafe at any speed" according to Ralph Nader.
 
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I live in upstate NY where we get more than our share of snow, thanks to the ever-present "lake effect".

I have both a front and rear drive vehicles. The front is a Dodge Caravan... fantastic in the snow. No need or desire for an expensive 4WD. The rear-drive car is a large Mercury Grand-Marquis: a big car with traction control. The TC helps, but it still gets loose in the rear-end sometimes and doesn't have the traction that the van has.

Traction control doesn't give you more traction, it simply uses what you have more efficiently. If you don't have enough, then you will still have trouble in bad conditions. Snow tires with studs are a big improvement, but they have a down-side. Noisy and often have to be off your car by Spring. Also there is the expense and inconvenience of getting them changed.
 
Eric Fletcher
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Originally posted by Dmitry Melnik:
Eric, could you please tell more about your experience with Subaru? I am thinking about buying a car, and Impreza WRX is one of the candidates.



My experience has been great with them. My wife and I both drive one and never had a problem with either one. They are very affordable, and they are great in bad weather. I highly recommend them.

I test drove the WRX, more just for kicks since they are on the pricey side for a Subaru, and my wife was not too keen on the idea. The car is awesome as far as performance is concerned, an absolute rocket off the line and the AWD makes it handle like it's on rails. But my guess is all that HP makes it not as good in the snow as the base models. But if I were 25 and single again that would be my car of choice!
 
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Originally posted by Warren Dew:
peter wooster:

... I found that easing off the throttle when taking a curve at the limit, which stabilizes the typical rear drive car, destabilizes my wife's front drive car in a similar situation. Keeping the power on or even increasing it actually works better, though it would be a certain spin in my own car.



It's typical behavior for a front wheel drive car to *slightly* oversteer when you lift the throttle at the limit. Even more counter-intuitive: to correct oversteer in a front wheel drive car, you should mash the throttle.
 
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Big chunky V8 / V12 for the noise, and RWD for the fun.

corvette

Just a shame I live in the UK, as we pay 70% tax on petrol. Its been garaged for the last 3 years.
 
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My experience says FWD is more stable. I drove a RWD BMW with traction control in the snow and in freezing rain and you couldn't go more than 5 mph without it slipping all over the place. I only had stock tires though not winter tires. But with FWD that is not a problem as it seems more stable. Besides most Japanese cars are FWD and they are cheaper and have the best engines in terms of longevity.
 
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...traction control...



Sounds like a marketing term. Do you mean a limited slip differential?

IMO best first: 4WD, Front, Rear

Guy
 
Ray Marsh
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Originally posted by Guy Allard:
Sounds like a marketing term. Do you mean a limited slip differential?

IMO best first: 4WD, Front, Rear

Guy



Limited slip is an older version of traction control. Modern TC is computer controlled. It works the opposite of anti-lock braking. It still doesn't add any traction, it just keeps the wheels from spinning.

4WD is the best, but it is not necessary. I have lived in the snow belt all my life and owned and driven vehicles for 20+ years and have never owned 4WD.
[ November 10, 2004: Message edited by: Ray Marsh ]
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