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Old 04-28-2010, 11:53 PM
29 posts, read 197,535 times
Reputation: 22


So, I'm moving to Michigan with my wife. Neither one of us have ever driven or lived in the snow before. I have a 4Runner with rear wheel drive. She has a lexus IS250 with 2WD. ARE WE IN TROUBLE??? We went apt hunting last week, and the people we meet pretty much scared the crap out of us. They talked about how we wont have a chance with 2WD in the Michigan winter.

Is this true?
Can't I just get snow tires?
Do I really have to trade in my car and get something with 4WD?
Does everyone have 4WD up there?
We will be in Michigan for 4 yrs per our contract...

Thank you!
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Old 04-29-2010, 12:22 AM
Location: Macao
15,447 posts, read 33,782,225 times
Reputation: 8959
Michigan is VERY FLAT....and the roads are heavily salted when it does snow.

I've driven just about every kind of junk car in MI weather...but never had winter tires, chains, or 4WD...and was absolutely fine.
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Old 04-29-2010, 02:49 AM
Location: Vandenberg Village, CA
721 posts, read 1,336,073 times
Reputation: 528
Michigan is not FLAT everywhere -- NW lower and the western UP (the snowiest parts) are hilly. Nobody needs a 4WD unless you're off-roading. You do need a front-wheel drive vehicle with good tires for winter weather driving if you want to be safe. Or just don't go out when the weather is bad and you can drive anything...

And the roads are only heavily salted downstate. You're lucky to get them plowed in the more rural parts of the state and you're much more likely to see sanded roads rather than salted. Some places even have a no-plow on weekends policy to save money. Its kind of funny that the places which get the most snow/worst weather have the least amount of money to take care of the roads.

Originally Posted by Tiger Beer View Post
Michigan is VERY FLAT....and the roads are heavily salted when it does snow.

I've driven just about every kind of junk car in MI weather...but never had winter tires, chains, or 4WD...and was absolutely fine.
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Old 04-29-2010, 04:39 AM
Location: West Michigan
3,056 posts, read 5,109,757 times
Reputation: 4180
Having 4 wheel drive is NOT necessary. It's OK to have a 2-wheel drive vehicle... as long as it is front wheel drive. Unfortunately, both of your vehicles are rear wheel drive!

I hate to tell you this, but vehicles that are rear-drive are very difficult to drive in slippery conditions. Of any type of vehicle, they are by far the worst. You almost have to buy bags of sand or salt and put them in the back or trunk of the vehicle to provide added traction. If you want to keep your cars, that would be an option. But I think you will be miserable driving those vehicles. And I am NOT a winter weather alarmist. I actually don't find winter driving to be very stressful at all, and sort of enjoy it, actually. I just have a lot of experience with all three -- 4x4, front, and rear-drive vehicles.

Front wheel drive is ideal because the weight of the engine is directly over the tires. This gives you the traction and control that you need to get around 95% of the time during the winter up here. I actually prefer a front wheel drive car to driving a 4x4 pickup or SUV (usually). 4x4 is only an advantage when the snow gets really deep.

The vast majority of cars, other than sports cars, SUVs, and some luxury cars, are front wheel drive. Unfortunately, you happen to have a luxury car AND and SUV! In many cases, I think people over-dramatize the effects of winter driving. But in the case of your specific vehicles, those people really were just being realistic and honest.

Michigan is VERY FLAT....and the roads are heavily salted when it does snow.
Some parts are flat as a board, but it's more common to see gently rolling hills.
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Old 04-29-2010, 06:03 AM
Location: West Michigan
12,084 posts, read 32,508,408 times
Reputation: 16704
Drivers went for decades with rear wheel drive vehicles in the snow. Get a GOOD set of snow tires and take it easy and you will be fine. While my vehicle is 4X4 it is very very unusual for me to actually use it during the winter. I use it much more in the summer out poking through the woods. I never turned in the hubs once this last winter. Decent tires and common sense is all it takes to be able to drive safe on snow, no matter the vehicle. I used to drive a 2 wheel drive 4Runner in Northern Maine and never had a problem in the winter.

Short answer, no you do NOT need to change vehicles to live in Michigan.

Firestone Winterforce are a great tire
Bridgestone Blizzak WS60 for the car
Bridgestone Blizzak w965 for the truck
Michelin makes a decent snow tire

Put them on all 4 corners and you will do just fine.
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Old 04-29-2010, 06:24 AM
24,843 posts, read 30,491,240 times
Reputation: 11401
We have many cars and trucks of all kinds because of our business.

My choice most days. A front wheel drive car. On slippery roads, IMO front wheel drive is better than 4 wheel drive.

BTW, Bydand is 100% correct.
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Old 04-29-2010, 06:38 AM
1,635 posts, read 3,080,755 times
Reputation: 2605
Default Just get snow tires for all four corners

We have front wheel dirve cars and I run snows on my car during the winter months due to my long commute. My wife works for the local schools so she has no need to drive on the rally crappy days, which are truthfully only crappy for a half-day or less.

We have lots of snow plows and salt trucks here in the snow belt!

Regardless, I recently equipped her car with Vredestein Quatrac 3 tires. One of the two all season tire types available with the "Snowflake within a Mountain" symbol making them suitable for use on ice and snow. (Regular all season tires are not suitable for ice and snow, their All Season label merely means their tread area has 25% or more of voids)

Most BMW's are rear-wheel drive, until recently at least, and you see lots of them on the roads wearing snow tires during the winter months.
  • Snow tires during the winter months
  • All Weather tires (offered by Nokian & Vredestein) all year long
  • Work from home on the really bad days
Any of these choices will work fine
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Old 04-29-2010, 07:54 AM
Location: State of Superior
8,549 posts, read 13,177,973 times
Reputation: 2685
First off , it depends a lot on where in Michigan you will be living. Its a big state , and DOES have " snow belts" both downstate and up north. As a rule places like Detroit never get enough snow to worry about a 4 x 4. However places like South Haven and along the sun coast can get lots of snow.
The problem with front wheel drive these little cars get stuck very easy in a snow bank. I will take real wheel drive any day over these put-put wonders...in heavy snow. besides, front wheel drive only makes people feel they can go where they really can not. You must keep moving forward ( they do poorly going in reverse).... Give me a big old RWD Lincoln some sand bags in the trunk , real snow tires, and you can survive most places in Michigan. It depends more on where you are in Michigan as to what will be best for winter driving. Whatever you do , do get winter tires, they are a safty factor on ice , and that is everywhere in MI.. The rubber in these tires is soft , so they should be retired in the summer. Buy an extra set of wheels and store them in the garage for next winter. Studded tires are not legal in most counties on main roads, ( hard surface) so for all but the real diehard off road guys, forget them.
Here in the UP , most people still do have cars, many Subarus with AWD are the popular choice. It is surprising how few p/u trucks w/ 4 x 4 you see around Marquette considering we get 300 inches or more most winters. having ground clearance is whats needed with deep snow. Again , that considered , our roads are plowed every day, including weekends, not like the Lower Michigan secondary roads that only get service during the week.
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Old 04-29-2010, 08:43 AM
29 posts, read 197,535 times
Reputation: 22
Thank you all the replies. Your inputs are greatly appreciated

To clarify my situation, I will be living/working in the CANTON/Livonia area. A bit away from Detroit, but not too far.

I really don't want to trade in my cars unless I have to. So after reading this post, I think this is my solution.

1. Get snow tires for both cars and put them on during the winter. By which month should I already have them on? I heard the winter is 8 months long? geezzz... Why am I leaving Miami?

2. Put sand bags in the trunks of both cars. Exactly how many bags? One or two? four?

3. Anything special I must do to my car? I got a new battery, that's about it. I'm planning on changing the fluids and adding antifreeze to the car. Can't think of much more.

Yep, i'm clueless with Michigan and its snow. But i'm looking forward to living there tho.

Thank you.
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Old 04-29-2010, 10:15 AM
Location: Pure Michigan!
3,920 posts, read 6,738,510 times
Reputation: 5678
We live half an hour from Canton. Our son drives through the Canton area to commute to school 2/3 days/week. He drives a Ford Taurus (front wheel drive) and has never had the slightest problem except for slow going on I-94 on the very few days that we got enough snow to even slow down traffic this past winter. My husband commuted to Detroit and then Toledo, OH this past winter in a rear wheel drive Chevy Silverado pickup. The only problem he had all winter was getting up our slightly sloped driveway when he got home. I drive a front wheel drive Dodge Caravan and had zero problems this past winter, and I commute up US23 to Ann Arbor.

You will probably be surprised at how relatively little snow the Metro Detroit area gets in the winter. We are on the "right" end of Lake Erie, meaning that the lake effect snow hits the cities like Cleveland and Buffalo that lie on the eastern end of the lake. I think we only got enough snow to actually shovel twice this past winter, about 4-6" each time. Also, whoever told you that winter here lasts eight months is exaggerating a LOT! To give you an example, this past year, we experienced light jacket weather well into late October/early November, with highs in the high 50s and low 60s. December, January and February were cold, March was in the low 40s most days, and April has been in the 50s and up for the most part. It hasn't snowed since very early March. It will be hotter than heck by mid- to late June and stay that way well into September. Actual cold, snowy "winter" in SE Michigan really only lasts about four months. The rest of the year is either kind of chilly but with no snow or beautiful (May, September) or just plain hot and humid.

It sounds like you will be surprised at what the weather here in Michigan is really like. A lot of people have a stereotype of Michigan as being a months long blizzard. Not even remotely factual. Oh, and autumn here is absolutely to die for. It is the most gorgeous time of the year, just wait until late Sept. and early Oct. Oh, and welcome to our great state!!!
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