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  1. #1
    I Crash Often
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    OT: Car Question

    I'm possibly moving to Colorado after graduation from college next May. Being from Texas, I've never had a 'need' for a 4x4 or AWD vehicle. I was wondering if a 4x4/AWD car or truck is necessary? Can I get buy around towns and mountain roads with a FWD car, similar to a Civic? Depending on the answer, I might be doing some car shopping first.

  2. #2
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    The car you need depends on the driver you are. I know that doesn't help, but if you aren't experienced or comfortable driving in poor conditions at least make sure your vehicle is.

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  3. #3
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    Don't sweat it. I have lived in Colorado all of my 25 driving years and never needed a 4X4 until this last winter. Even then, my wife only needed the 4wd for 2 days to get out of our street. After that, I could push snow with the front bumper of my Buick Regal.

    I drove an older Honda Accord and a 2wd (rear wheel drive) Mazda pickup the entire 7 years I lived at 9300ft elevation in Summit County.

  4. #4
    DWF
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    Quote Originally Posted by keylay
    I'm possibly moving to Colorado after graduation from college next May. Being from Texas, I've never had a 'need' for a 4x4 or AWD vehicle. I was wondering if a 4x4/AWD car or truck is necessary? Can I get buy around towns and mountain roads with a FWD car, similar to a Civic? Depending on the answer, I might be doing some car shopping first.
    4x4s & AWD's are definitely not necessary. A front wheel drive car is fine and if you're going to be doing mountain driving while it's sketchy, get studded tires on all four or a good set of chains. Four wheel drive doesn't help you when it comes to maintaining traction or braking on paved roads and that's how come you see so many of them in the ditch in the winter.
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  5. #5
    MK_
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    Quote Originally Posted by keylay
    I'm possibly moving to Colorado after graduation from college next May. Being from Texas, I've never had a 'need' for a 4x4 or AWD vehicle. I was wondering if a 4x4/AWD car or truck is necessary? Can I get buy around towns and mountain roads with a FWD car, similar to a Civic? Depending on the answer, I might be doing some car shopping first.
    Definitely invest in some winter tires or even better, spare wheels (getting tires mounted is between $50 and $100, a few seasons and it pays for the rims).

    I've got a front wheel drive car with a good amount of torque and although it has all kinds of electronics to maintain traction, I was dead in the water with my summer tires when we had a couple big snow dumps.

    All season tires go a long way, but winter tires (studs are unnecessary if you stick to paved roads) really make a huge difference.

    AWD/4WD is advantageous when you're climbing steep, icy, snowy hills. For all other driving purposes, FWD is plenty.

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  6. #6
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    Depends on where in CO you'll be moving. Living up in the mountains myself, you wouldn't have been able to get into my neighborhood, let alone my driveway without 4x4, good tires, and occasional chains. Even with 4x4 I had to have a backhoe come to clear the drive and make room to plow more snow. If you have to be able to access the mountains, get a 4x4. If you're living in a major metro or the 'burbs, then you're usually okay with decent tires and a front-wheel drive.

  7. #7
    starladear
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    Suv's are for posers. And there's a lot of them.

  8. #8
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    I live up one of the steepest roads in colorado(magnolia) and I only got turned around twice last season. I have a jetta wagon with studs. probably will get a subaru eventually

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by nOOby
    I live up one of the steepest roads in colorado(magnolia) and I only got turned around twice last season. I have a jetta wagon with studs. probably will get a subaru eventually
    Yeah.. but the steep parts of Mag are paved and east facing with good sun. Black asphalt makes a huge difference on the icepack. I would have LMAO watching someone try to get a Jetta to the top of Big Springs last Jan. After the weekend of 120 mph winds the roads were so deep and frozen even the plows stopped running for several days. I have two 4x4s that couldn't even move an inch in the driveway until after 6+ hours of shoveling.

  10. #10
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    I live in Avon, CO and have lived in the mountains for 8 years. My first year I had a FWD civic with bad tires and hated it. I never felt safe. I bought a Toyota 4WD pickup the next summer and what a difference it makes. With some extra weight in the back I feel very stable. My other vehicle is a AWD CR-V. It does amazingly well in the snow with BF Goodrich Traction T/A's. Traction is excellent. If the front wheels slip, the rear ones kick in and away we go.
    4WD and AWD vehicle def help maintain traction over 2wd vehicles unless you are on a sheet of ice. Braking is a different story and is why so many fools go in the ditch. If you are going 80mph on the snow and you have to stop fast or start to slide, nothing is gonna help besides airbags. You'll see all the Audi drivers on I-70 who think their A-4 wagons are on rails going 75mph while others are doing a safe 50mph.

    But a good FWD sedan with good snow tires will do very well. I have many co-workers who commute from Summit county to Avon. A 45+ minute drive over Vail Pass. 5 days a week. Most of them have FWD sedans like Civics or Accords with snow tires.

    I would never own a 2wd vehicle though. The cost savings isn't worth the added traction and safety I get. On snowy days, I just leave it in 4wd until the roads are clear.

    As far as chains go, get some for emergency purposes but they suck to put on and you'll rarely use them. I used chains once in 6 months in WP. Winter of 95', Berthoud Pass closed twice for 5 days. A good thing to get is a good nylon 20' tow strap so people can pull you out of a ditch.

  11. #11
    icanseeformiles(andmiles)
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    I spent two years commuting from the front range to the mountains (one year to Eldora in the Winter) in a honda prelude, never got stuck, never had any problems - at all. Front drive is fine, just get good snows, studs are probably overkill if you're going to spend any time on paved, dry roads.
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    To differentiate riders by the type of surface frequented is IMO the height of foolishness.

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    I've never owned a 4WD or and AWD and have lived here all my life. FWD is just fine. If you want you can even get snow tires to put on in the winter to help out a little bit. The fact of the matter is that in the front range there really isn't that much snow. You'll be fine with that you've got

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by wormvine
    As far as chains go, get some for emergency purposes but they suck to put on and you'll rarely use them. I used chains once in 6 months in WP. Winter of 95', Berthoud Pass closed twice for 5 days. A good thing to get is a good nylon 20' tow strap so people can pull you out of a ditch.
    If you get chains, just make sure you know how to use them.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickle
    If you get chains, just make sure you know how to use them.

  15. #15
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    Pretty much what everyone else has said is true. FWD with studs or good snow tires will be just fine. However, in my experience, last year I sure was glad I had 4WD. Most neighborhoods had ice and snow 6-12" thick for 2 months. We also had a couple of storms that dropped 2' of snow....Try getting through that with a Honda Civic. I saw so many passager cars in ditches, abandoned, etc. last year. I never had a problem getting anywhere.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by chinkerjuarez
    I've never owned a 4WD or and AWD and have lived here all my life. FWD is just fine. If you want you can even get snow tires to put on in the winter to help out a little bit. The fact of the matter is that in the front range there really isn't that much snow. You'll be fine with that you've got
    Again.. unless you need to get to the mountain dirt roads. I can guarantee that no one in a 2 wheel drive would have been been able to get to my diveway, let along up it, for at least 50% of the days last winter. There is a big difference between driving the highways that go through the mountains, and driving the gravel sideroads. I lost count of how may FWD car I helped tow out of deep snow last year, and that's when I wasn't needing a tow myself.

    Tell me again how your 2 wheel drive is getting through this?
    IMG_5422 (Large).JPG

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickle
    If you get chains, just make sure you know how to use them.
    Must be one of those new FWD Ford Mustangs.......

    What a moron

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by thump
    Again.. unless you need to get to the mountain dirt roads. I can guarantee that no one in a 2 wheel drive would have been been able to get to my diveway, let along up it, for at least 50% of the days last winter. There is a big difference between driving the highways that go through the mountains, and driving the gravel sideroads. I lost count of how may FWD car I helped tow out of deep snow last year, and that's when I wasn't needing a tow myself.

    Tell me again how your 2 wheel drive is getting through this?
    IMG_5422 (Large).JPG
    I don't see why I need to spend the extra money on gas and for 4WD when this happens almost never in Denver. Most of the HWY's are clear during the winter to go skiing so I've never had a problem. Last year during the blizzards when my car looked like that. I just grabbed a shovel and dug out then the neighbors and I, even the ones with 4WD helped dig the street out so we could drive. Not a big deal.

  19. #19
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    How many dirt roads do we have in denver anyway???? I never said anything about driving on mountain dirt roads. I said the front range. You just need to know the limits of your car. If your car won't make it don't do it.

  20. #20
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    Alright, this might sound a little harsh, but IMNSHO money spent on a winter driving/bad weather driving course will go a LOT farther than getting a 4x4 or AWD vehicle. I see far too many SUV's and Subi's stuck in the ditch and my theory is that the 4x4 or AWD just gives the nervous bad weather driver false confidence and they end up getting in over their head.

    Funny thing is, there's been lots of talk in this thread about getting snow tires, or chains, or 4x4 this, or AWD that, just put studs on and you'll be fine in a FWD car blah blah blah but no one has stepped and said HEY! LEARN HOW TO DRIVE IN THE SNOW, and you'll be fine. Well there, I just said it. Seriously... you're from a place that never sees snow and ice, and although the Front Range doesn't get THAT much you'll be better off knowing what to expect and having the skills to handle it than not. A 4x4 or AWD vehicle isn't going to do everything for ya.

    So take that rant for what it's worth, but it's like mtn biking: you ain't gonna be any better of a rider on a $7000 bike than you are on a Huffy unless you spend some time working on your fitness and your skills.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by chinkerjuarez
    I don't see why I need to spend the extra money on gas and for 4WD when this happens almost never in Denver. Most of the HWY's are clear during the winter to go skiing so I've never had a problem. Last year during the blizzards when my car looked like that. I just grabbed a shovel and dug out then the neighbors and I, even the ones with 4WD helped dig the street out so we could drive. Not a big deal.
    Ah geez.. Yes, that works in the 'burbs. Except my driveway is 300+ feet long and had built up enough snow that the plow didn't even have enough room to run. Add to that the 100 mph winds, and the snow froze so hard you couldn't even dent it with a snowshovel. When you have an excavator with a tracked backhoe charging to you $150/hr just so you can get _out_ of your driveway, then you'll understand why a 2wd just doesn't cut it living at 8500 feet.

    And it did happen, almost weekly up here. Then when you factor in the drift from the continuous winds, the roads were crap for weeks solid.

  22. #22
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    Colorado and snow driving

    Think about it like this...look outside and judge the depth of the snow. For the most part, in and around the city a 2wd with great snow tires (Nokian) will suffice and keep you out of trouble most days, but we do get snow that is ~6" or so deep when falling and this past year the white stuff stuck around for months on many of my local thoroughfares.

    My experience (pulling/shoveling many out of ditches/banks or just *dips* in the road) is that smaller cars, with their lower level of ground clearance will have the most issues. Once the snow "floats" you a bit, your tires leave the surface of the snow and are useless, doesn't matter what brand you have.

    The available traction and safety that an AWD car gives is absolute. Do you *need* to have that level of security, all depends on how you feel about being at the mercy of the elements/roadway conditions/other drivers. I bought my wife a nice little Subaru 2.5RS and run Nokian WR all-season extreme snow rated tires. With the AWD and traction, just a no-brainer and it gives me peace of mind that she's able to negotiate the condtions no matter what the weather.

    I drive a Toyota Tundra with extreme snow rated tires on it and being a selectable 4WD, it's great...most times but as folks have eluded to, having a large 4WD does not make you invincible and can actually lead to a false sense of security...hence the numbers of them wrecked/flipped on the side of the road. Hell, doesn't even have to be a highway, we get them flipped in *town*. Chuckleheads...

    One thing I get w/the Toyota is ground clearance (stock, not lifted) and this allows me to negotiate snow/mud/muck that is much deeper than what you would be able to get a smaller car through. Being a Coloradan...I very much enjoy getting out and enjoying the state I live in and this is the vehicle that meets my needs year round. Do you need a larger truck/SUV/portly gas-hog? All up to what you want to do with it. Please, if you go the large/SUV route....*use* it. Carry things, people, bike stuff and lend it out to friends if they need the same. I hate to see all the pretty, shiny LARGE vehicles being used like Honda Civics (no slam to Honda's intended!).

    Good luck with your choice and congrats on the move...you'll love it here. Just be sure to volunteer a bit with a trail maintenance group, bike advocay or other civic-minded pursuit...if everyone did just a LITTLE of that, think about how amazing our state would be!

    Allen

  23. #23
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    Full Trucker nailed it!

    Here we are dispensing with all the technical info on vehicles/tires etc...and FT comes in and points out the obvious...it's the wing-hut behind the wheel that needs to be fully tightened down and ready for travel.

    Well put and the most important piece of the safety puzzle is how safe you feel driving in the conditions and how well you understand the limitations (all vehicles have them) of what you own/drive.


  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by twobytandem
    Here we are dispensing with all the technical info on vehicles/tires etc...and FT comes in and points out the obvious...it's the wing-hut behind the wheel that needs to be fully tightened down and ready for travel.

    Well put and the most important piece of the safety puzzle is how safe you feel driving in the conditions and how well you understand the limitations (all vehicles have them) of what you own/drive.
    Which is a darn good argument for banning anyone from TX or CA from ever moving here (sorry keylay)

  25. #25
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    Come on now :-)

    (Sorry for the OT/OT bit)

    He's from TX....I'm from CA

    I've found in my many travels, it's not really *where* the person comes from, it's their upbringing! TX and CA just have such a high number of folks you just really wouldn't want to get to know

    Back to my comment about getting involved in the area you move to. It's shocking how many people live in nice area's and do nothing to help it become a more beautiful place or maintain it's high level of quality. *That* is the kind of person I'd like to have as a neighbor, regardless of where they lived last.

    It's almost sobering what many folks in other countries think of Americans...especially ones from TX or CA!

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