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Re: Winter driving - front/rear wheel drive (archive)

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Posted by Jim Cash on January 30, 2000 at 12:14:49:

In Reply to: Winter driving posted by Alan on January 29, 2000 at 13:30:14:

: Seriously considering the purchase of 97 or 98 528ia. Will be a daily driver by someone now driving fwd Bonneville. Are these cars good in winter driving or am I kidding myself. Not considering sport pkg. I know you people would have the best advice. Thanks in advance.

Your FWD car can get moving sometimes because it has more weight over the drive wheels - so better traction in some conditions.

But - becasue it has more weight in the front end it is not ballanced, nad can more easily do loopy spins when you do get going and loose traction on a curve or braking.

Also - remember when you are accelerating you are shifting weight toward the rear. In a 50/50 balanced car that means you now have more weight on the rear wheels (better for acceleration) and when you are braking you shift more weight to the front wheels (better for braking).

The more I have considered this issue the more I think it is better to have a weight ballanced car with RWD and tires that give the best traction on all 4 wheels for acceleration, steering and braking.

ABS and traction control just help control the application of braking or acceleration forces so that you don't accidently overpower the available forces of friction between the tires and road.

I got really scared in a FWD car one time when trying to pass a long line of trucks on a 4 lane highway in slushy snow conditions.
At one point I was no longer able to make progress and was just keeping even with the truck beside me despite pressing harder on the accelerator. I could not understand what was wrong till I looked at the speedometer which read in excess of 120 km/hr (about twice the speed I was actually going).

What was happening was that the snow was deep enough to hold back the car but one of the drive wheels was following the engine. So "ONE" of my wheels that I was steering with was simply spinning leaving me with just one whll keeping me in control.

Needless to say I quickly backed off and sliped back into line behind the trucks.
Now that was a scary condition to be in!

I know that new forms of traction control on the front wheels would help this condition, but I am not sure if I want it automatically applying brakes to the front steering wheels.
Thats when the lighter rear end decides to go sideways.

Remember - it is safer to NOT have enough traction to get moving, than it is to not have enough to steer or brake once you are moving.

Jim Cash

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