4 Wheel Drive vehicles are fantastic to have in snow emergency situations, especially like those currently striking the Midwest. I personally have a Jeep Grand Cherokee that gets me around in the snow, ice, mud, and whatever else gets thrown my way. It instills confidence in myself and my wife’s driving when behind the wheel during questionable conditions. The 4 wheel drive also allows us to provide services to friends and families who are unable to get out during the 8 inches of snow that have fallen in the past 24 hours. But when we are out running, we also play it smart, by respecting the 4 wheel drive.
Having 4 wheel drive allows easier movement and perhaps even a more controlled movement in adverse weather conditions like snow. However, introduce ice and having 4 wheel drive does nothing for stopping and can complicate matters during certain maneuvers. When possible, only use part-time 4 wheel drive. Moving at highway speeds in all wheel 4 wheel drive can cause instability and becomes less safe than moving in along snow and ice in normal 2 wheel rear-wheel drive.
Still allow time to stop before an intersection, you will not be stopping any better than that small Honda Civic in front of you. Consider the life left in your tires when setting out on a wintery mix adventure, 4 wheels might be turning but if there is no grip left, it’s all for naught.
Go prepared, don’t think you are immune to being stranded while driving a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Make sure your vehicle is stocked with snacks, water, blankets, and first aid kits, should the worse happen. During a blizzard most towing companies will not come to your aid until after the storm passes, so you may be stranded for hours. Those shriveled up raisins start looking awfully tasty after setting for 3 hours in total darkness.
Lastly, if you don’t have to be out, just stay home. Don’t go play with your 4 wheel drive, let the emergency vehicles and road workers do their job. Don’t risk becoming another emergency phone call into 911, if you are able to stay home, make some hot chocolate and enjoy being snowed in.