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Old 09-24-2016, 02:54 PM
 
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Hello, I will be spending most or all of the winter in the Branson area and am concerned about driving during the winter. I've been told that you have to watch out for black ice and the hills make driving in the snow that much more dangerous. I'm currently looking for a car and am not sure if I should look for All wheel drive or can get away with a front wheel drive with winter tires. What do most of the locals drive to help make trips safer in the winter? Someone even told me that most people don't go out if there is a forecast for rain during the winter because it freezes and ices the roads over. Others have said that there can be ice under the snow you can't even see. It's all pretty disconcerting and I'm trying to figure out how the locals deal with it all and how much of a problem it is. also interested in what suggestions could be given to help manage driving during that time better. Thank you.
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Old 09-24-2016, 09:07 PM
 
Location: St. Louis
7,272 posts, read 5,790,120 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klemmaniac View Post
Hello, I will be spending most or all of the winter in the Branson area and am concerned about driving during the winter. I've been told that you have to watch out for black ice and the hills make driving in the snow that much more dangerous. I'm currently looking for a car and am not sure if I should look for All wheel drive or can get away with a front wheel drive with winter tires. What do most of the locals drive to help make trips safer in the winter? Someone even told me that most people don't go out if there is a forecast for rain during the winter because it freezes and ices the roads over. Others have said that there can be ice under the snow you can't even see. It's all pretty disconcerting and I'm trying to figure out how the locals deal with it all and how much of a problem it is. also interested in what suggestions could be given to help manage driving during that time better. Thank you.
I don't think there is a car/tire made that can handle ice. You'd be wise to heed that advice.
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Old 09-24-2016, 11:11 PM
 
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There will be days that you just shouldn't go out. But MOST days will be okay. There will be ice/snow and the roads will be bad. They will be cleared within a short time (more quickly in more populated areas/paved roads) and once they are cleared they are fine to drive on.


Four wheel drive is great if you are driving in snow. Like MUTGR said, you'll still slide on ice with four wheel drive.


There's not usually a forecast for rain in the winter because the temperature is not usually high enough for rain. It would either be freezing rain, drizzle or snow, and the forecast would warn you of that. Be careful on bridges and overpasses. They ice over first. So even if the roads seem okay otherwise, bridges and overpasses can be slick.


On the days that there is a weather advisory, just stay home.


If it were ME, I'd go for 4 wheel drive. I live in Kansas City and even here there have been times that 4 wheel drive has come in handy - like being able to drive right up hills when other people are sliding, being able to take my daughter to work in a snowstorm when the roads hadn't been cleared yet - and having no problem doing so. I owned 4 wheel drives from 1994 until 2014, when I bought a front wheel drive. I liked 4 wheel drive better and my next vehicle I'll be going back to 4 wheel drive. I don't use it that much, but I appreciate having it when I want/need it.


And...Southern Missouri is not all that bad as far as winter weather. It will snow. It will get icy. And the sun will come out and melt it all in a few days. My parents used to live between Springfield and Branson and it was usually warmer there than in Kansas City, sometimes quite a bit warmer.

Last edited by luzianne; 09-24-2016 at 11:47 PM..
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Old 09-24-2016, 11:53 PM
 
Location: IN
21,437 posts, read 37,678,755 times
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As someone who has lived in the Snowbelt and has experienced every single type of extreme winter weather condition that is known to exist, the advice regarding not driving during any precipitation that is freezing rain, creating black ice or glare ice on the road, is correct. No vehicle regardless of type has any inherent advantage if the road conditions are a sheet of ice. For snowy conditions, I much prefer an AWD vehicle (Subaru) with a LOW CENTER OF GRAVITY. Why is this important? It improves handling and cornering in all weather conditions- giving better overall control of the vehicle. An even better proposition would be a Subaru with a dedicated set of winter tires. 4WD is only advantageous if you plow snow for extra income in the winter or live in the middle of nowhere on a dirt or gravel road. An AWD vehicle with 8.5'' to 9'' of ground clearance is more than sufficient for the vast majority of drivers in the US.
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Old 09-25-2016, 10:16 AM
 
29 posts, read 16,734 times
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Thank you all for the advice and warnings. I've been talking to some of the locals here in the Branson area while I'm here, and some people indicate that there aren't that many days during the winter where the roads are not drive-able safely. One person told me it would amount to 1 or 2 weeks out of the year. If the town shuts down on those days, and employers understand that nobody is going to show up for work, then I wonder if I could get away with a car with front wheel drive and good winter tires. I'm currently looking at Honda Fits, but someone else I asked about this recommended I look at Subaru Imprezas as well.

I'll definitely heed the forecast and not try anything if there may be ice on the roads, but I may need to get out to a job on a snowy day.

The thing I'm still concerned about is this: I've been driving around the Branson area currently, and there are a number of stop signs and stop signals at the end of an incline on a hill, sometimes a considerably steep incline - I'm imagining trying to accelerate from a stop at these locations to make a turn and sliding or not being able to quite make it up the incline and get going. Have any of you driving in this area or these types of conditions found this to be a consistent problem with a front wheel drive? I think AWD would be ideal, but I'd be paying a premium for it to use it only during a very small percentage of the time I'm driving out here. I'm having trouble deciding if it's really necessary or if I could get by with front wheel drive and good winter tires - would that be sufficient for the above scenario?

I think I'll start focusing my search to include Subaru Imprezas with AWD. I'd prefer to get something like a Honda Fit for it's reliability and being very hard to break requiring low maintenance, but am wondering now if I'll regret that over getting an AWD vehicle come deep winter in the Ozarks. I'd love to hear from the locals in the Branson area since they'd be more familiar with and have experience with the specific driving environment I'll be operating in. Thanks again.

Last edited by klemmaniac; 09-25-2016 at 11:07 AM..
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Old 09-25-2016, 01:14 PM
 
Location: IN
21,437 posts, read 37,678,755 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klemmaniac View Post
Thank you all for the advice and warnings. I've been talking to some of the locals here in the Branson area while I'm here, and some people indicate that there aren't that many days during the winter where the roads are not drive-able safely. One person told me it would amount to 1 or 2 weeks out of the year. If the town shuts down on those days, and employers understand that nobody is going to show up for work, then I wonder if I could get away with a car with front wheel drive and good winter tires. I'm currently looking at Honda Fits, but someone else I asked about this recommended I look at Subaru Imprezas as well.

I'll definitely heed the forecast and not try anything if there may be ice on the roads, but I may need to get out to a job on a snowy day.

The thing I'm still concerned about is this: I've been driving around the Branson area currently, and there are a number of stop signs and stop signals at the end of an incline on a hill, sometimes a considerably steep incline - I'm imagining trying to accelerate from a stop at these locations to make a turn and sliding or not being able to quite make it up the incline and get going. Have any of you driving in this area or these types of conditions found this to be a consistent problem with a front wheel drive? I think AWD would be ideal, but I'd be paying a premium for it to use it only during a very small percentage of the time I'm driving out here. I'm having trouble deciding if it's really necessary or if I could get by with front wheel drive and good winter tires - would that be sufficient for the above scenario?

I think I'll start focusing my search to include Subaru Imprezas with AWD. I'd prefer to get something like a Honda Fit for it's reliability and being very hard to break requiring low maintenance, but am wondering now if I'll regret that over getting an AWD vehicle come deep winter in the Ozarks. I'd love to hear from the locals in the Branson area since they'd be more familiar with and have experience with the specific driving environment I'll be operating in. Thanks again.
I much prefer an AWD vehicle over a FWD vehicle if given a choice as it makes a difference regarding handling, cornering, and overall safety in any type of inclement weather conditions from rain to sleet to snow. Subaru MPG penalty is very minor as the newer vehicles have fuel efficient engines with Impreza vehicles getting around 35mpg highway. I have driven around southern Missouri a good bit in the winter, and it often depends on the year or the weather pattern regarding how much wintry precipitation they tend to see. I remember about 15 years ago Springfield was hit by two 11-13 inch snowstorms in a span of two weeks, so heavy snow can occur occasionally, by more southern standards. Being at a low latitude, but on a plateau- mixed precipitation including freezing rain and sleet is often more common than snowfall unfortunately. Winter tires would make a difference regarding driving on sleet covered roads as well as snow covered roads. Up north, they know how to "pre-treat" the roads better before frozen precipitation falls, some solutions work well even with temperatures in the 20s outside. Southern areas do not do as good of a job with this overall in my experience, especially areas that average fewer winter weather events per season.
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Old 09-25-2016, 04:21 PM
 
29 posts, read 16,734 times
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Originally Posted by GraniteStater View Post
I much prefer an AWD vehicle over a FWD vehicle if given a choice as it makes a difference regarding handling, cornering, and overall safety in any type of inclement weather conditions from rain to sleet to snow. Subaru MPG penalty is very minor as the newer vehicles have fuel efficient engines with Impreza vehicles getting around 35mpg highway. I have driven around southern Missouri a good bit in the winter, and it often depends on the year or the weather pattern regarding how much wintry precipitation they tend to see. I remember about 15 years ago Springfield was hit by two 11-13 inch snowstorms in a span of two weeks, so heavy snow can occur occasionally, by more southern standards. Being at a low latitude, but on a plateau- mixed precipitation including freezing rain and sleet is often more common than snowfall unfortunately. Winter tires would make a difference regarding driving on sleet covered roads as well as snow covered roads. Up north, they know how to "pre-treat" the roads better before frozen precipitation falls, some solutions work well even with temperatures in the 20s outside. Southern areas do not do as good of a job with this overall in my experience, especially areas that average fewer winter weather events per season.
Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts. I have been told by numerous other locals that winter weather can create a problem but it sounds like not too often - Like you said, occasionally there is a snow storm and ice, but it's not very regular, that's why I'm trying to decide if I could get away with, say, a Fit with Front WD and good winter tires. I just don't want to be kicking myself come winter when I'm sliding backwards down hills etc, in it, know what I mean? I'm buying used, so I think it will be hard to find late model Subarus in my price range (~$8,000, or at least that's my goal). I am finding some older Subaru Imprezas (2006-2007-2008) that look okay and have the AWD. I'll have to do some homework on the mpg hit on those older models, but it may be something I'm willing to sacrifice for peace of mind. Of course, I'm trying to ease and lighten my budget any way possible at the same time. thanks for your thoughts and advice.
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Old 09-25-2016, 06:51 PM
 
Location: St. Louis
7,272 posts, read 5,790,120 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klemmaniac View Post
Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts. I have been told by numerous other locals that winter weather can create a problem but it sounds like not too often - Like you said, occasionally there is a snow storm and ice, but it's not very regular, that's why I'm trying to decide if I could get away with, say, a Fit with Front WD and good winter tires. I just don't want to be kicking myself come winter when I'm sliding backwards down hills etc, in it, know what I mean? I'm buying used, so I think it will be hard to find late model Subarus in my price range (~$8,000, or at least that's my goal). I am finding some older Subaru Imprezas (2006-2007-2008) that look okay and have the AWD. I'll have to do some homework on the mpg hit on those older models, but it may be something I'm willing to sacrifice for peace of mind. Of course, I'm trying to ease and lighten my budget any way possible at the same time. thanks for your thoughts and advice.
I'm not a local there but I'm not unfamiliar with the area and yes, it's not a constant issue, but when you get ice storms, as we do on occasion in St. Louis, they are bad and stay off the roads. There are other times, short of actual ice storms, when it will flare up on bridges and what not - be careful.

You'd be fine probably with front wheel drive.
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Old 09-25-2016, 09:34 PM
 
29 posts, read 16,734 times
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Originally Posted by MUTGR View Post
I'm not a local there but I'm not unfamiliar with the area and yes, it's not a constant issue, but when you get ice storms, as we do on occasion in St. Louis, they are bad and stay off the roads. There are other times, short of actual ice storms, when it will flare up on bridges and what not - be careful.

You'd be fine probably with front wheel drive.
Ok thank you for the insight. I'm pretty nervous about driving in the winter here and not looking forward to it. I've been searching for Subaru Imprezas, but can't find any newer ones within my budget, and I've been told that after about 6 years the cars start having problems you need to have repaired, some which can be very expensive - don't need that. Now I'm looking more at older Toyota Matrix cars with AWD. I've found some '05-'06 cars that may work. But, it's good to hear from you that I may be able to get by with a Fit with FWD and good winter tires if I can't find any AWD vehicles within my budget. Thanks again.
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Old 09-25-2016, 09:40 PM
 
13,693 posts, read 16,361,358 times
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The reason I don't like all wheel drive/low center of gravity is that the bottom of the car drags in the snow. With 4 wheel drive, you are up above that and aren't dragging. That's one thing I HATE about my current all wheel drive. It's too low to the ground compared to the 4 wheel drives I have had. With those I was up above the snow, not dragging my undercarriage through it.
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