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  #1  
Old 24th December 2008
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Default What is the worst winter car?

I just got back from New York to take car of the rest of the apartment stuff (moving in two weeks!) and my rental car was a Chevy Cobalt sport coupe with 17" wheels, like the one shown below.


This is the worst car I have ever driven on the snow/ice. It could have just been the tires (17" Pirelli P6's) but it would under steer like crazy. I just couldn't get over how bad this car was in the snow. It wouldn't even move with the traction control on. It made the drive from NYC to Newburgh rather scary, I needed my Saab.

I just can't think of a worse car I have seen in the snow. I'm pretty sure my friends 1972 SS Chevelle is better on the snow than the Cobalt.
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Old 24th December 2008
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Did it have snow tires?
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  #3  
Old 24th December 2008
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17 inch Pirelli P6 there is your answer

Put 14 inch wheels with 175/75 tires or even 15 inch wheels with 185/65, snow tires, boom that thing will go anywhere... 17 inch wheels, wide tires, summer tires and a small light car it will just do nothing
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Old 24th December 2008
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I guess the real answer is don't get a rental car from Budget at LaGuardia. It also had just straight water in the windshield wiper fluid reservoir, which of course froze.
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Old 24th December 2008
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Worst winter car will be the one with pretend high performance summer tyres fitted. When it comes to tyres it really is horse for course.
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  #6  
Old 24th December 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 900t
17 inch Pirelli P6 there is your answer

I don't speak tire.
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Old 24th December 2008
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My 1984 Subaru Standard base model front wheel drive hatchback was the worst car I have ever tried to drive in the snow. I say tried to drive, because it really didn't work. This thing would get stuck in the rain. Seriously.
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  #8  
Old 24th December 2008
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Any motor vehicle with one wheel drive and an oversized engine powering the lightly loaded rear wheels..

I think that any front driver( with one wheel drive) running on 4 doughnut spares would be better...
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Old 24th December 2008
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Like driving an aluminum flying saucer down a steep mountain. Actually the flying saucer has more control. I had this for 2 years before my Dodge Neon.

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  #10  
Old 24th December 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanF.
Did it have snow tires?
I've never seen a rental with snow tires, even when I rented cars in Canada.

By the true rental car standard, it likely had partly bald all-seasons
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  #11  
Old 24th December 2008
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Like one of the other posters pointed out...

A vintage rear wheel drive car that doesn't have positrac and has wide ***** tires.
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  #12  
Old 24th December 2008
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My 1974 AMX was quite the handful in the snow. I recall trying to get to a gas station about 5 blocks from home back in November of 1976. Went sideways most of the way. I slid my way home, parked in the garage, and bought a Jeep Wagoneer the next day. The AMX hasn't seen snow since. My Saab is GREAT in the snow.
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  #13  
Old 24th December 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by earthworm
I thing that any front driver( with one wheel drive) running on 4 doughnut spares would be better...
sorry, I dont understand wtf you just said
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  #14  
Old 24th December 2008
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There are a number of factors that determine of a car is good in the snow.

Drive wheels:
Generally RWD is the worst. Most people falsely assume that AWD is the best. AWD would be the best if you could add AWD without the weight penalty, but the added weight that comes along with AWD leads to longer stopping distances. Since some car makers try to offset the added weight of AWD by usiong lighter weight materials in AWD models, lets define it as this: All else being equal AWD is better than FWD in the snow. AWD also has some risks in the snow: It masks the road conditions from the driver. If you don't slip at all when starting (like with AWD) you can be led to believe the roads arent that slippery, and be in for a HUGE surprise when its time to turn or stop.

Weight
I have often heard from people that heavy vehicles are better in the snow because they cut through the snow better. Nothing could be more wrong. Weight and the resulting inertia is a huge penalty in winter driving, as you get much longer stopping distances, more intertia to run (to prevent under steering) and more intertia when trying to get started from a standstill.

A good winter car is as light as possible, with one caveat. In order to cut through the snow it should have as narrow tires as possible. This is what the "weight is good crowd" are mistaking for a weight benefit. Instead of more weight what you want is a greater weight to surface area ratio, without raising the overall weight of the vehicle.

Tires
In addition to the above (making your winter tires narrower than your summer ones) it also pays to have a good set of winter tires. All seasons simply won't do. In the past studded was always the way to go, but that is no longer the case with the latest generation of non-studded snow tires. Studded are better in some situations (usually shiny ice) and non-studded are better at others (slush and snow mixes). Choose a set depending on what you are most likely to see on roads around you.

Other
There are other factors too (like wight balance) that make a car more or less maneuverable in the snow. A car with a very slight under steer is to be preferred in the snow, as fishtailing all the time gets tiresome.

Summary
To sum it all up the best winter car will be lightweight with narrow winter tires, well balanced with slight understeer and FWD (or AWD if there is no weight penalty).

The worst winter car will be the opposite. Heavy, wide tires, poorly balanced and RWD. (RWD pickup truck with performance tires maybe? All the weight is in the front of these...)

Based on this I think a F150 Lightening is a prime contender for the absolutely worst winter vehicle (among reasonably modern cars) of them all

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Last edited by Mattlach; 24th December 2008 at 11:44 PM.
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  #15  
Old 25th December 2008
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I used to have one of these with a 4-speed manual. Not a very good choice in Michigan winters. Five-point-ooooooooooohhhh sh%$

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Old 25th December 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Si|ver Bu||et
sorry, I dont understand wtf you just said
A front driver is better in the snow and ice than an overpowered rear driver; even if the FWD has four baldies or 4 spares on...
But the Posi-traction will make all the difference. But, now, finally for the FWD there is the Quaffe....
And "I think, NOT I thing"...
This is an error that spell check misses.
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  #17  
Old 25th December 2008
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Old mercedes saloons ('80s 300 SD, etc) are heavy, RWD, and oversteer-biased. With all-season tires, they are no picnic in the white stuff...
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  #18  
Old 25th December 2008
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FIAT 500 Jolly.......
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  #19  
Old 25th December 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattlach
There are a number of factors that determine of a car is good in the snow.

Drive wheels:
Generally RWD is the worst. Most people falsely assume that AWD is the best. AWD would be the best if you could add AWD without the weight penalty, but the added weight that comes along with AWD leads to longer stopping distances. Since some car makers try to offset the added weight of AWD by usiong lighter weight materials in AWD models, lets define it as this: All else being equal AWD is better than FWD in the snow. AWD also has some risks in the snow: It masks the road conditions from the driver. If you don't slip at all when starting (like with AWD) you can be led to believe the roads arent that slippery, and be in for a HUGE surprise when its time to turn or stop.
Nah... your braking difference from that weight is at maximum 10 %... a few feet, inches even, no real difference. But AWD can be kickass when you are parked on the street in the winter. Also AWD cars tend to drive very straight and nicely down slippery roads, much more tractable than FWD or RWD. The problem is often this gives people a false sense of security and they go to the ditch It isn't even when starting but just moving down the road. But this isn't a real problem since if you aren't stupid you have only benefit.
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  #20  
Old 25th December 2008
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I had to drive my friends C55 AMG this past Sunday when we really got a big snow storm.

This thing, is by far the worst, SCARIEST thing I have ever driven on snow. Even though it's equipped with winter tires (performance winter), this thing is a disaster waiting to happen.

I was on the left lane with a huge truck in the middle lane right next to me and he was too close to me for my comfort, so I decided to tap (and I mean the slightest of taps) the pedal and the thing almost spun out. It scared the crap out of me.
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