Snow, snow tires, AWD etc

General conversations about BMW E28s and the people who own them.
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Mike W.
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Snow, snow tires, AWD etc

Post by Mike W. »

Partly from people here, but elsewhere too, it seems like everyone freaks out about driving in snow these days. Kind of always been that way, but seems worse now. Now snows on all 4 wheels is desired, but essential? And I heard a weather broadcast about a storm in the midwest and they were telling people only to drive if they had All Wheel Drive. I've lived in snow country, 6300 feet, Lake Tahoe. They did have pretty good snow removal but snow up there was often in feet, not inches. 3 years and I had to chain up 3 times, once when a parking brake froze on, once when I came home late and didn't feel like shoveling out my parking place at 3AM so I just plowed in and one other time. A total of 50 feet or less. It was FWD but I only briefly had snow tires on and the only time I almost lost it was going around the chain control station, on an unplowed road on an off camber curve. I took the E12 over Donner Summit one time during a pretty good blizzard, probably no more than a dozen cars in 40 miles, albeit with chains, but no issues. Yes, the Donner party Donner Summit, that one on I80 Now I think highly of my driving skills, but I suspect most people feel that way.

So what's going on? Has it gotten worse? Has the widespread availability of AWD in Subarus, Audis, BMWs and more make everyone lazy? Yeah, I knew people who always used snows in the winter and had a spare set of wheels and tires, but most people just motored on. And FWD? Really, it's at it's best going down hill. Weight transfer. I did have to back up a hill one time to take advantage of weight transfer, and it went right up where I couldn't go up forward. People around me thought I was nuts. Ok, maybe they were right even if I knew what I was doing, but FWD isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Disclaimer. Yes, I've seen those videos with people stopped, wheels locked, then sliding backwards with the wheels still locked. Wet ice is a different story.
stuartinmn
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Re: Snow, snow tires, AWD etc

Post by stuartinmn »

Sounds like one of those old man "Get off my lawn!" complaints... ;)

In Minnesota icy roads are the biggest problem - the streets and highways are normally cleared well enough that deep snow isn't an issue. It does seem like it's gotten worse over the years, maybe a byproduct of climate change. I managed for most of my life with rear wheel drive cars without problems, but I've been using an e30 325iX as my winter car for the last ten years or so. 98% of the time, all wheel drive isn't necessary but it is nice to have for that remaining 2%. ABS is another thing I never had before; again it hasn't been critical, but it is nice to have.
Motronic
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Re: Snow, snow tires, AWD etc

Post by Motronic »

Growing up in New England snow wasn't a problem driving in. Now there is more migration of people moving for work or just relocating. There's more immigration to the country. The big reason for anxious winter drivers is the media newscasts which hype snow flurries and name storms now. Just mention bomb cyclone and cities start shutting down everything.
I rarely have had a snow day off. The buses didn't give two shits if it snowed. Society is a little softer these days me thinks.
Mike W.
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Re: Snow, snow tires, AWD etc

Post by Mike W. »

stuartinmn wrote: Dec 30, 2020 3:49 PM Sounds like one of those old man "Get off my lawn!" complaints... ;)
Could be... :laugh: Except I've always been like this, and I really was asking a question as to if had gotten worse or changed. :dunno: True I'm doubtful, but I do wonder if things have changed, or if people have changed. On the other hand, my first driving years were in the Midwest, St Louis, where 4" of snow was viewed as the apocalypse. Even at the age of 16 it wasn't much of a problem.

IMO, as long as you remember you're on snow, and drive like you're on snow, it's no big deal 99% of the time.
stuartinmn
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Re: Snow, snow tires, AWD etc

Post by stuartinmn »

Mike W. wrote: Dec 31, 2020 3:04 AM IMO, as long as you remember you're on snow, and drive like you're on snow, it's no big deal 99% of the time.
That is a big part of the problem, especially during the first snowfall of the year - people keep driving as though they're on warm, dry pavement and it doesn't end up well for them.
Adam W in MN
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Re: Snow, snow tires, AWD etc

Post by Adam W in MN »

I lol'd about "bomb cyclone". So true about the media creating hysteria.

I agree that people drive as they usually would and then blink in disbelief when they end up in the ditch. After swearing that rwd and snow tires was perfectly fine for years, after I had my 2008 550i 6spd I realized that not all rwd cars were competent in the snow, even with snow tires. That car was awful.

Now I am very happy with my Nokian tires and awd Mercedes AMG wagon. The AMG has a 66% rwd bias but can route power dynamically and I have really come to appreciate having awd if I need to get the kids to some activity and our long driveway isn't yet plowed. The compromise of added weight and reduced steering feel for awd isn't a big deal to me to have it 6 months out of the year and make my driving headache free. Before the AMG, I had an e46 325xi wagon and other than the shit build quality of that thing, it was great to have in the winters again shod with Nokian tires.

The other thing that I think catches people off guard in snow and ice road conditions is a lack of interest in road feel and knowing the limit of traction. When driving in poor conditions, where it is safe to do so, I am regularly testing for the limits of adhesion by finding the abs activation point and what will make traction control kick in. I'm not driving like a wild man, rather I just like to know where that slip point is so I can plan my stops and reduce speed in turns and modulate throttle. The average driver in a Subaru outback would probably turn white and freak out if the abs activated and the brake pedal pulsed.
dsmith
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Re: Snow, snow tires, AWD etc

Post by dsmith »

I think we are almost 2 decades of new drivers away from decent driving skills. If the car can’t save the driver, all is lost. Pretty sad. I had no issues with RWD and snow tires in the snow belt. Drove 150 miles a day for work. In fact, my winter e28 didn’t have a heater or radio either.
Bonsaibacker
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Re: Snow, snow tires, AWD etc

Post by Bonsaibacker »

I think there are several factors and considering that cars are more agile than they used to be amplifies these factors-
Poor drivers- lack of awareness, cell phones, lack of experience, no training...
Forecasters hyping the danger- selling fear
Old man perspective

Having lived in in several time zones and latitudes, I thought that the drivers in Colorado were the best. Currently live outside Savannah Georgia and I would stay at home and barricade the door if it snowed- freaking out is the default down here.
tn535i
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Re: Snow, snow tires, AWD etc

Post by tn535i »

Yes we have a generation that believes technology and devices are supposed to save them from whatever they lack in skill or knowledge. And it gets better... if that does not save the day then the government should and should all else fail we got lawyers.

I got my license in Michigan on snowy roads in an over powered (V8) rear wheel drive Buick without dedicated snow tires in the 70's. How is that possible ?
davintosh
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Re: Snow, snow tires, AWD etc

Post by davintosh »

Yes, it's worse now. The masses seem to be convinced that AWD>FWD>RWD, and if you disagree there's something seriously wrong with you. And most don't seem to have a very high opinion of winter tires either; if they hold air and have "ALL SEASON" in the name, they're good. Even people my age who grew up with rear-drive and swapping on snow tires in the winter have jumped on the bandwagon. Those same people wonder why I'm content with RWD, and don't believe me when I tell them I get around fine mostly because I've got a set of good snow tires. Right now I'm in month two of trying to sell my 2WD F150. The first question from most every inquiry I get on it is if it's 4WD (stated clearly in the ad that it's 2WD), and everybody wants to knock at least $1,000 off my ask because it isn't. :roll:
tn535i wrote: Jan 03, 2021 11:53 AM Yes we have a generation that believes technology and devices are supposed to save them from whatever they lack in skill or knowledge. And it gets better... if that does not save the day then the government should and should all else fail we got lawyers.

I got my license in Michigan on snowy roads in an over powered (V8) rear wheel drive Buick without dedicated snow tires in the 70's. How is that possible ?
Truth. People are definitely less capable of dealing with adverse driving conditions, and the DOT has enabled people to become crappier drivers by mandating that cars become increasingly capable of picking up the slack for lowest-common-denominator drivers. And auto manufacturers continue to build increasingly sophisticated cars that insulate drivers from driving. More and more people don't see driving as anything but a necessary chore anyway, and are happy to let the cars take on more of that chore. I look forward to the day when self-driving cars are a reality because those "drivers" won't be driving anymore.
davintosh
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Re: Snow, snow tires, AWD etc

Post by davintosh »

Funny coincidence; just noticed this article in the footer of another article I was reading.
https://www.autoweek.com/news/technolog ... important/
Good info on why winter tires make such a difference. One good quote from the article:
All-wheel drive, just like other safety systems such as traction control or ABS, doesn’t improve traction, or create traction, it just maximizes the traction you have.
My neighbor bought a new Prius a number of years back, and was disappointed with it that first winter; couldn't figure out why because it was front-drive! I suggested a set of winter tires, using the example of my BMWs and Blizzaks; he got a set for his car, and was amazed at the difference. Like the article says, all the extra stuff can't give you any more traction than your tires can provide.
Mike W.
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Re: Snow, snow tires, AWD etc

Post by Mike W. »

I was almost buying Tire Racks writeup until I saw this, "If you can see your breath regularly, you should probably be on winter tires." Meaning below about 45 on winter mornings? I know he's in the business of selling tires, but that's really stretching it to suggest I would need them here in Northern California, AKA "the Bay Area"

As a related comment on how comfortable I was driving on snow, my typical winter parking pattern, when there was snow/packed snow on the pavement, which was probably 50-75 days a year, was to slow down to about 10MPH, yank on the E brake, crank the wheel and do a 180 into my dugout parking place. :banana: No curbs or anything and I got a couple of strange looks, but not too many since I was usually coming home late.

I miss snow. Of course I miss a lot this friggin' year. :evil:
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