Author Topic: Mid-coast Maine and AWD: Is it a wintertime necessity?  (Read 7238 times)

funnysnoot

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Mid-coast Maine and AWD: Is it a wintertime necessity?
« on: July 13, 2014, 12:50:02 PM »
In need of some advice. My wife and I just moved to mid-coast Maine and have one car: a 2005 Prius. We need to get a second (or trade in the Prius) by January as my wife will be student teaching and driving anywhere up to an hour's drive from Portland. This begs the question: should we go AWD and if we do, what should we look into that keeps in line with the Mustachian ethos? Thanks!

Snow White

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Re: Mid-coast Maine and AWD: Is it a wintertime necessity?
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2014, 01:24:29 PM »
I don't think you NEED an AWD if you and wife will be driving on paved, primary roads and can wait for the roads to be plowed (if needed). One plus of living in areas that frequently get snow is that snow removal is often done fast and efficiently. Contrast that to Atlanta's freaky snow storm this past winter when people were trapped for hours on the road.  We don't do much better in Central and South Texas and people generally hide inside if there is more than a flurry of snow.

I lived for years in Massachusetts and worked as a hospice RN for much of that time and I drove an AWD (Subaru Forester).  But I had to go on all kinds of roads in all kinds of weather and didn't have the luxury of waiting on snow plows.  I am proud to say that I never missed a day of work for weather.  What I did was too important to the patient and my Subaru got me through no matter what Mother Nature threw at me.   It doesn't get the best gas mileage though so not sure the car would be considered Mustashian.

Enjoy Maine...one of my favorite places on Earth!

former player

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Re: Mid-coast Maine and AWD: Is it a wintertime necessity?
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2014, 01:49:56 PM »
Snow tires on the Prius, provided the snow is not going to be deeper than the clearance on the car.

okashira

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Re: Mid-coast Maine and AWD: Is it a wintertime necessity?
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2014, 01:52:21 PM »
I think MMM has covered this.

AWD only helps you accelerate faster. That can only add danger.

Snow tires help you turn and stop, and accelerate.

Mr. Frugalwoods

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Re: Mid-coast Maine and AWD: Is it a wintertime necessity?
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2014, 02:34:05 PM »
If you are a first responder and you might need to drive long distances in the middle of a snowstorm before the roads are cleared... then yeah.  Otherwise just wait for your tax dollars to do their thing and clear the roads for you.

Living in the Boston area, we've never needed AWD or even snow tires.  If it's super terrible outside we just wait it out.  Our 1996 Honda Odyssey minivan (front wheel drive) does just fine with a little snow. 

If the snow is deeper than our clearance on the van, then work tends to be canceled.  Might be different up in Maine, but around here if there's more than 6 inches of snow on the road at 7am, schools cancel and work tends to follow suit.

I hear snow tires help, but we've never used them and we've never gotten stuck *knock on wood *

avongil

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Re: Mid-coast Maine and AWD: Is it a wintertime necessity?
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2014, 02:42:46 PM »
No one needs AWD. Only ground clearance is needed if your roads are not kept up. 

For most people - snow tires. They are the best thing ever.

1 - they are softer. Even when dry, they handle better in cold temperatures when your all seasons harden up.
2 - they allow you to stop in the snow
3 - they allow you to turn in the snow
4 - they prolong the life of your summer/all season tires!  So, when analyzing cost, I find them a freebie since tires are a wear Item.

Once you drive a car with snow tires, you will have so much confidence in the winter, you wont think of driving without them again. 

It's really tough to go from 50+ mpg of the prius to 20mpg. The cost of doing so is around 1K per year more if you drive the average (12K miles per year).

My tips:
But a set of wheels on Craigslist for the Prius. (or tire rack if you don't care about original style) I got a new set for 350$.  Mount the snows on those and swap them every winter, this will save you a bunch of money very quickly. 

Buy good snow tires. Avoid economy brands. I find they wear faster, negating all cost savings and also being redicoulously loud. In a prius that would be bad since it has little sound dampening. I have been very happy with these:  http://www.nokiantires.com/winter-tires/nokian-hakkapeliitta-r2/  - super quiet.

funnysnoot

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Re: Mid-coast Maine and AWD: Is it a wintertime necessity?
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2014, 03:05:06 PM »
Thanks, everyone. Looks like we'll try snow tires on the Prius and see how things go.

@avongil Those Nokians look great, but sadly they don't make any that fit the 2005 Prius.

okashira

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Re: Mid-coast Maine and AWD: Is it a wintertime necessity?
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2014, 03:26:40 PM »
Thanks, everyone. Looks like we'll try snow tires on the Prius and see how things go.

@avongil Those Nokians look great, but sadly they don't make any that fit the 2005 Prius.

I imagine good snow tires are not cheap. Despite how they may market them, make it a point to only swap them on when you need them. Don't make a habit out of driving with your snow tires in the dry.

StartingEarly

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Re: Mid-coast Maine and AWD: Is it a wintertime necessity?
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2014, 05:10:09 PM »
Have you looked into a cheap set of winter rims that are a size that will accept the Nokians and still fit on the Prius?

kimmarg

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Re: Mid-coast Maine and AWD: Is it a wintertime necessity?
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2014, 05:36:22 PM »
If you are a first responder and you might need to drive long distances in the middle of a snowstorm before the roads are cleared... then yeah.  Otherwise just wait for your tax dollars to do their thing and clear the roads for you.

If the snow is deeper than our clearance on the van, then work tends to be canceled.  Might be different up in Maine, but around here if there's more than 6 inches of snow on the road at 7am, schools cancel and work tends to follow suit.

Welcome to Portland! This guy pretty much summed it up. A good front wheel drive car with solid snow tires should be fine. Do NOT get rear wheel drive!! In fact front wheel drive is what I prefer to drive about 90% of the time. Because my job falls into the 'must drive long distances in the middle of a snowstorm' I keep a 4WD truck as well.  School will cancel before you need AWD.

I do suggest snow tires, they make quite a difference, an do you'll have to buy new tires anyways eventually, is way you just use each set half as often.

I drive a Honda Fit with snow tires and get 38mpg (45mpg in summer with summer tires and no defrost on)

GuitarStv

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Re: Mid-coast Maine and AWD: Is it a wintertime necessity?
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2014, 05:45:44 AM »
I lived in Northern Canada for most of my childhood.  We would regularly get 8-9 ft of snow a year (had to shovel off the roof half way through the winter because the weight on it got too heavy).  We had snow tires on our cars for winter, never ever had a vehicle with all wheel drive.  A decent set of snow tires makes an incredible difference when driving in winter conditions.

YoungInvestor

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Re: Mid-coast Maine and AWD: Is it a wintertime necessity?
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2014, 05:53:30 AM »
Where I live (there's a lot of snow in the winter), a relatively small percentage of people has AWD cars.

Everyone has winter tires, though.

AWD is nice to have, but far from necessary, with the proper driving technique and tires.

Stachesquatch

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Re: Mid-coast Maine and AWD: Is it a wintertime necessity?
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2014, 07:34:27 AM »
Take note that the chemical salt they are using on the Maine roads 'eats' vehicles faster than ever.  Some cars are scrapped within 7-10 years because of the damage in areas where the road crews inadvertently apply a too high sand/salt ratio. 

If I lived there I would consider a much older cheap economy car from the Southern US for winter driving.

cynthia1848

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Re: Mid-coast Maine and AWD: Is it a wintertime necessity?
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2014, 09:07:05 AM »
Snow tires should be sufficient.  You will need a good plow guy.  Ask the neighbors when they plow - if you need to get out early, before they plow, you may have some issues, but otherwise snow tires should be enough.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Mid-coast Maine and AWD: Is it a wintertime necessity?
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2014, 11:56:30 AM »
Snow tires should really be called winter tires, since they have a different chemical makeup and stay soft (to grip the road) in cold temperatures.  Any time temperatures are consistently below 7C (45F) you should have winter tires on the car.  Here, and I am guessing in Maine, that means all winter. They are fine on dry roads, there is no damage.  They do wear out faster when it is warm.  If you plan to keep the car for several years, it is worth while investing in winter rims as well.  Once the tire is on the rim, it stays there permanently, so less wear.  At the change of season you just pop one set of rims off and put the others on.  Ask your garage when to get them on and off, or just look at the long-term forecast.  Here in Eastern Ontario, and when I lived in South-western Quebec, mid-November was the start, and some time in April was the end.

Quebec passed a law a few years ago making winter tires mandatory between mid-December and spring.  Apparently accidents caused by winter conditions are definitely down.

AWD does nothing for driving on snow, I learned that the first December I drove an AWD Subaru.  We had a snowfall before I had the tires changed, and I had no grip. Slithered like mad even at slow speeds on a small hill.  I do fine in a Mazda3 with snow tires.  Most of the time I am driving on clear dry roads.  Even driving home in a blizzard last winter, I had no trouble holding the road.  My problem was visibility, and figuring out where the road ended and the shoulder started.  There was at least 2" of snow on the highway, and more in places from drifting.  And that was on tires that will not be going back on this fall.

avongil

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Re: Mid-coast Maine and AWD: Is it a wintertime necessity?
« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2014, 11:47:53 AM »
RWD, FWD, AWD makes little difference.  In fact, I much prefer a RWD vehicle in the snow. In my opinion they are easier to turn and control.
They get a bad rap because there is usualy less weight in the rear, so you can just throw a few heavy items in the trunk for traction.

RWD cars are generally either large sedans or sports cars. Sports cars generally come with summer tires making it a horror.
 
The two best cars in the snow I have ever driven are RWD:
 
#1 spot -  Mercedes 240D with snows.  Didnt even have enough power to spin them!  This was fantastic in the snow.
#2 spot - Porsche 911.  The 60% rear weight advantage made it unstoppable.  eh... up to about 4" of snow that is.
#3 spot - toyota tacoma 4wd.  The light rear made it worse than the above vehicles. Adding weight did it wonders though. Unless there was more than 8" of snow, this car was useless.



avongil

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Re: Mid-coast Maine and AWD: Is it a wintertime necessity?
« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2014, 12:08:47 PM »
Thanks, everyone. Looks like we'll try snow tires on the Prius and see how things go.

@avongil Those Nokians look great, but sadly they don't make any that fit the 2005 Prius.

I imagine good snow tires are not cheap. Despite how they may market them, make it a point to only swap them on when you need them. Don't make a habit out of driving with your snow tires in the dry.


COLD.  Dry is ok... It should be cold outside. They are downright dangerous in the warm.

As for size, I see they come in 185/65 R 15  so you should be good to go. 

I highly recommend them. Used them on a 1988 911 and a 2003 BMW 525 wagon.  This year I will experiment with them on a 2012 Prius!


funnysnoot

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Re: Mid-coast Maine and AWD: Is it a wintertime necessity?
« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2014, 06:38:40 PM »
Excellent advice everyone -- thank you. Will be avoiding AWD if a second vehicle is necessary.
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