4 Wheel Drive and Winter Driving

I guess the answer to this question would depend on ones idea of “winter weather”. Lets see, I was in my Nitro doing my rural paper route last night and the weather was great if you are a penguin. The wind was howling and the temperature was sitting exactly 33 degrees all night long.

The rain came in buckets and was sometimes appearing to go sideways in the wind. The ground was already covered with 5 inches of snow from a previous storm so when the rain hit the surface it turned to ice. Most of the night water and ice fell from the sky and accumulated as 8 inches of wet, heavy slush.

Over half of my route is made up of small county roads, dirt roads, and long driveways. Last night all of these had to be traversed in 4 wheel drive and quite a bit of acceleration and braking. There was times that even the 4 wheel drive wasn’t enough because of the depth of the slushy snow. When I encountered such a place I simply gunned the engine and got a firm grip on the wheel and plowed ahead.

On the other hand, when we moved back here from Texas many years ago I owned a 2 wheel drive pick-up with a positive track rear end in it. If you carried enough weight in the bed during the winter and had good winter tires on it that truck would go anywhere a 4 wheel drive vehicle could go.

4 wheel drive is nice to have if you find yourself in need of it, but many people buy a vehicle with it thinking they will need it and then never use it. If you live in snow country it is a good idea to have 4 wheel drive along with a few other items that may come in handy. A couple large bags of cat litter or rock salt, I blend both and use equal amounts of each. A short handled square bladed shovel, and a good set of tire chains or cables. It is also wise traveling around here in the winter to carry some fresh water, jumper cables, and a first aid kit along with a few safety flares.

Four wheel drive may not be needed all the time but there is always that one time your life may depend on it to get you thru. My papers were all delivered on time and when I finished I was able to return home to my bed unscathed yet another day.


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