This Winter: 4x4 or not?

October 23, 2015 at 1:17 PM

Winter is nearly upon us, with many people waking up and finding they need to scrape their windscreens of ice before their morning commute. At this time of year, the question also gets raised as to whether you need a 4x4 for the season of snow and ice, that is fast approaching. The answer is no! Your van is perfectly suitable for handling the winter conditions, as well as a 4x4. In this blog, we examine how and why your van is as good as a 4x4, plus ways to help your van cope in even the coldest weather.

Check and change your tyres

Drivers are very aware of the need to check their tyre tread and pressure on a regular basis, this should be maintained going into the winter season. However, have you ever considered changing your van or car tyres to those designed for winter conditions? Many people think that winter tyres are only so snow and ice; winter tyres can be used anytime the temperature is dropping below 7C. Winter tyres are designed to not harden in lower temperatures, this means they tend to 'dig' into the road more. If you fit your van with winter tyres, your van will come to a stop after 35 metres, even in snow conditions. Compare that to the summer tyres, it takes an additional 8 metres to stop. Compare this distance to a 4x4, there is a negligible difference in stopping distances.

You can get vans with rear wheel drives

A 4x4, simply put is a car that has power provided to all four wheels. However, in slippery conditions, a rear wheel drive is all you need! A front wheel drive will handle well, however, the rear wheel drive is the powerhouse to propel you through the harder driving conditions, plus they are cheaper to maintain. The reason rear wheel drives are handy, especially when it comes to vans, is when you accelerate you place additional load or weight on the rear. With a rear wheel drive when you accelerate, greater load is placed on the rear wheels, thus creating more grip. Great for those winter conditions.

Having a 4x4 does not mean safer driving; driving safely is the key

Having a 4x4 does not guarantee you will not have an accident or slip in the snow. Driving safely and carefully guarantees this. By driving your van carefully, taking into account the weather and road conditions will increase your chances of reaching your destination safely, not a 4x4. 

Remember a few important winter driving tips, to ensure you and your van have a safe and stress-free journey:

  • Always accelerate gently, ensuring you keep your revs low but change to a higher gear whenever possible.
  • Consider starting your van moving by using second gear.
  • Leave large gaps between yourself and the next vehicle, up to ten times the normal stopping distance is recommended.
  • If driving on an ungritted road, whether in a 4x4 or van/car, try to avoid other car's tracks, the compressed snow makes the risk of slipping greater.


Tags: Safety Winter Driving
Category: The ''Expert Advice''

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