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X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
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  #1  
Old 12-16-2010, 03:42 PM
tobyknapp tobyknapp is offline
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Can you share X3 snow driving tips, please?

Hi, All...

Well, here in DC/MD/Va, we got a bit of snow today and while some people freaked out, others had no problems dealing...

I drive a 2010 X3 and am wondering if you can share some of your advice for how to drive best in snow/bad weather. Should you turn ON DTC? Leave it be? Should we get chains or tires for the X3?

My dealer/service advisors say no to snow tires or chains since Xdrive should be more than enough to handle the elements while driving smart and cautiously, but I wanted to get your thoughts, opinions and tips...

Thanks for reading and for any advice you have to share!

-tk
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  #2  
Old 12-16-2010, 04:09 PM
Porsche996 Porsche996 is offline
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Good question. I live in the same area and picked up my x3 last Saturday. Not sure what to do about snow. I held down the DSP? button and suddenly saw a 4x4 emblem pop up on the dash so I used that setting until pavement reveled itself then I shut it off.

We may not have to do anything.
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  #3  
Old 12-16-2010, 04:28 PM
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AzNMpower32 AzNMpower32 is offline
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Every year, these questions prop up.

Your service advisor needs to find a new job. BMW (and everyone else knowledgeable about vehicle dynamics) recommend snow tires for optimum handling, braking, and use of driver aid systems. Please do a search on the various forums on the tires topic, its been beat to death.

Leave everything as is in regards to buttons and driver aids. All the systems are on by default upon start up and optimise driving safety and control. For more information, please consult the owner's manual.

DTC is useful primarily in deep snow in order to get moving and stay moving. Essentially, the DTC mode allows for more wheel slippage so DSC won't constantly try to brake the wheels when you're trying to get going. But for the kind of snow seen in VA today, this is not necessary.

If you see the flashing ! triangle sign, that means DSC is actively intervening at the moment to stablise the vehicle. Unless you're deliberately trying to drift the X3, do NOT deactivate the DSC by holding the corresponding DTC button. If the ! light is on, that means the system is shut off and only xDrive is working to control the car.

I've even attached a picture of the relevant info. How convenient.
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Last edited by AzNMpower32; 12-16-2010 at 04:30 PM.
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  #4  
Old 12-16-2010, 04:31 PM
shendrick shendrick is offline
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My understanding is the X3 comes significantly biased toward RWD in the dry but will send more power the the front if it detects slippage. DTC is always on and will use brakes and engine to slow a wheel that spins. I would leave everything alone since turning off DTC will allow one or more sheels to spin too much in low traction situations. Best to experiment someplace safe to get the feel of what it can and can't do before you start mucking with overrides.

Last edited by shendrick; 12-16-2010 at 04:32 PM.
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  #5  
Old 12-16-2010, 04:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tobyknapp View Post
My dealer/service advisors say no to snow tires or chains since Xdrive should be more than enough to handle the elements while driving smart and cautiously, but I wanted to get your thoughts, opinions and tips...
Your SA is a piece of work. The safety systems are only as good as what holds them to the ground.....the tires. Think about this: XDrive is basically just a marketing name for all wheel drive with some computer systems. AWD helps you when you're trying to move accelerate only. If you're coming to a stop, AWD is of no use. If you're turning without the gas pushed down, AWD is of no use. Its great when you need to accelerate and have traction only at one or two wheels, but its not magic and that's only for accelerating. When braking or turning, XDrive gives you NO benefit over ye old RWD car. If you hit ice, it can torque vector its little heart out but it won't do a thing.

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  #6  
Old 12-16-2010, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by E36 Phantom View Post
Your SA is a piece of work. The safety systems are only as good as what holds them to the ground.....the tires. Think about this: XDrive is basically just a marketing name for all wheel drive with some computer systems. AWD helps you when you're trying to accelerate only. If you're coming to a stop, AWD is of no use. If you're turning without the gas pushed down, AWD is of no use. Its great when you need to accelerate and have traction only at one or two wheels, but its not magic and that's only for accelerating. When braking or turning, XDrive gives you NO benefit over ye old RWD car. If you hit ice when you're stopping or turning, it can torque vector its little heart out but it won't do a thing.

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  #7  
Old 12-16-2010, 05:18 PM
al_macaroni al_macaroni is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tobyknapp View Post
Hi, All...

Well, here in DC/MD/Va, we got a bit of snow today and while some people freaked out, others had no problems dealing...

I drive a 2010 X3 and am wondering if you can share some of your advice for how to drive best in snow/bad weather. Should you turn ON DTC? Leave it be? Should we get chains or tires for the X3?

My dealer/service advisors say no to snow tires or chains since Xdrive should be more than enough to handle the elements while driving smart and cautiously, but I wanted to get your thoughts, opinions and tips...

Thanks for reading and for any advice you have to share!

-tk
My two cents...

I have lived in the DC Metro area for over 5 years and have been able to navigate the winters with all season tires. (This has been with two awd cars and one rear wheel drive BMW.) After last winter, I was thinking about getting a set of snows, but last year was atypical for this area.

Snow tires will definetly help, but in our region you should be okay with all season tires as long as you don't over estimate their capabilities.

X-drive will help you go. It will help you steer. You can aid your steering with all-wheel drive by goosing the gas when you turn the wheel. All-wheel drive will NOT help you stop. The all-wheel drive not helping you stop is the thing that most of the SUV drivers stuck in ditches neglect to remember.

So, if you have all seasons with x-drive, in most instances you will be able to go and steer, but you will stop the same as other cars with all seasons. This is okay as long as you account for this in your driving. Snow tires on the other hand will improve your traction in all situations. You will go, steer, and stop better.

This region seems to get more ice and freezing rain in the winter than snow. You should Google driving tips for driving on snow and ice. Most good articles will explain the differences in driving dynamics of rear wheel drive, front wheel drive and all-wheel drive in slippery conditions.

Snow tires will definetely help. But as long as you drive steady and don't over estimate the (stopping) capability of all season tires, the all seasons should be enough.
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  #8  
Old 12-16-2010, 05:36 PM
nightmareuki nightmareuki is online now
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a lot of good info here, only thing that i wanted to add is.
Winter tires will give you more traction even if you're not on snow or ice because they are designed to be used when temps go below freezing; winter tires will stay soft and be able to grip the road, much better than All-season.
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  #9  
Old 12-16-2010, 06:03 PM
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Drive slow
keep distance
Avoid sudden stops and accelerations
I have had my 2005 since new - never even considered chains.
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  #10  
Old 12-16-2010, 07:53 PM
tobyknapp tobyknapp is offline
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Thanks for the replies. This is my second X3, and I had no issues with my last one aside from some slippage. I had no problems with the blizzards last year, but, I'll admit when the snow was particularly outrageous, I grabbed our company H2 keys and went about business.

I just want to make sure I'm using the X3 and it's SAV abilities as best as possible. It's a fun ride for sure, especially with the 6-speed.

I had just read something online - maybe at the BMW website - which said that in some snow conditions to enable DTC for improved traction.

Thanks all!
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  #11  
Old 12-17-2010, 04:09 AM
todd92 todd92 is offline
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AWD only aids acceleration. It does nothing for turning or stopping. Pushing the DTC button does not enable DTC, it DISABLES it, allowing wheel spin for getting unstuck or climbing a slippery steep hill.

Any AWD vehicle is reasonably capable in snow. However, snow tires are FAR more valuable than AWD. I pass SUV's spinning and sliding on all-season tires every winter in my RWD 330 with snow tires. Snow tires make winter driving FUN.
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  #12  
Old 12-17-2010, 06:40 AM
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timfitz63 timfitz63 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by todd92 View Post
AWD only aids acceleration. It does nothing for turning...
I disagree there. AWD will also aid in turning/maneuvering traction.

I do agree that the drivetrain makes little difference where stopping is concerned; that's almost purely brakes and tires. In fact, that's the reason why we're taught to put the car into neutral when going downhill in wintry weather: if the engine is engaging the drive wheels, it can actually hinder your stopping power on a downslope rather than enhancing it...
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  #13  
Old 12-17-2010, 06:44 AM
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It never ceases to amaze me

It never ceases to amaze me how someone will go out and buy a fine car like our X3's, and then never take the time to read the manual. They will post questions here which is fine but you will learn so much more from reading front to back the manual.

Not trashing anyone but this thread is the perfect example. Someone was guessing how to operate the vehicle and turned the DTC off while driving around in the snow I am guessing because they saw the 4x4 symbol lit up on the dash and ASSUMED this meant the system was engaged. Well it wasn't, they had disabled a key safety feature all because they did not take the time to learn how to properly and safely operate the vehicle. These vehicles are rather complicated and personally some things are counter intuitive which further points to the need for a good manual read.

Sorry for the rant.
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  #14  
Old 12-17-2010, 07:35 AM
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What blows my mind even more than turning key features off is that with the snow we have here (with the exception of last years) people seem to panic with a dusting of snow.

I to live in the DC/BALT area. Come on folks the sky isnt falling and the world isnt coming to an end.

Please if you don't know how to drive in the snow..don't!


Or go to SC pay $500 and learn how to drive your vehicle.

Oy Vey!
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  #15  
Old 12-17-2010, 08:14 AM
tobyknapp tobyknapp is offline
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Wow... Warm and inviting comments for enthusiasts I see. Personally, BMW invited me to SC for the course which I intend to attend in the Spring. I've read the manual as well.

I think people post in forums to cut through the clutter and get real advice from people who have experience with something of common interest.

That's why I posted here asking what i did. I didn't realize that a fellow enthusiast would get flack for agreeing and sharing an experience.

I was told by many that is is the place to come to learn and ask questions and such about our BMW... I hope that continues to be the case.
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  #16  
Old 12-17-2010, 08:39 AM
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Calm down

No offense intended but after you visit this forum for a while you will see why I responded the way I did. You are always welcome here and will get advice but it was just the safety issue that set me off. Now, do yourself a favor, go back and read thoroughly your manual and you might want to do some studying of this as well-

http://www.bmw.com/com/en/insights/t...echnology.html

http://www.bmw.com/com/en/newvehicle...ngine_dsc.html
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  #17  
Old 12-17-2010, 08:43 AM
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CleanKM CleanKM is offline
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DC here as well, had fun driving on the back roads. Basically, i found an empty parking lot and tried different maneuvers to get a sense of the car's ability because this will be my first winter with the X3. It handled quite well (considering it's size/weight), but it did not live up to my high standard that was set by my previous Mercedes ML320 (heavier, thicker tires, etc.). But overall, it was completely fine, it all comes down to the driver using common sense (which a lot of people lack) and not overestimating a vehicle's ability.

Take it to a safe area next time it snows, make sure there are no obstacles, and give 'er a whirl. Realize when it stop, when it doesn't, and required distance in order to be safe.

my 2 pennies.
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  #18  
Old 12-17-2010, 08:45 AM
X3Dave X3Dave is offline
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Give yourself extra time to get to your destination. In Minnesota, depending on where and when you are driving you have to give yourself and extra 15 minutes to a half hour to get to work.
Slow Down
Increase your following distance
Do not make any any sudden stops or turns.
At intersections allow yourself extra time to turn and pull out.

Even if the roads look clear, there's something called black ice which can send you into the ditch or guardrail. Trouble spots are intersections, ramps, and bridges.

Unless you are driving on mountain roads or roads that are poorly plowed, there is no need for snow chains. Thirty five years of driving in Minnesota have not used snow chains.
I also carry a snow emergency kit of jumper cables, sleeping bag, candle/matches, flashlight, small snow shovel, and first aid kit. Bought my X3 in Germany so mine included a first kit. Make sure you have warm clothing with you- hat, gloves, warm coat, and boots.
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  #19  
Old 12-17-2010, 09:25 AM
Porsche996 Porsche996 is offline
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Forgive my ignorance, I didn't intend to turn this thread into a discussion about the merits of reading ones manual. Before I set out in the snow yesterday I glossed over the snow portion of the manual and decided that it was the perfect type and depth of snow to test the feeling of the car. It was barely an inch and I had to look for snow as most of the roads were already showing blacktop. I found an area around the BMW dealership that had snow and decided to push the the traction button to test grip. The system was off for about a block and the weight of the vehicle was more than enough to manage the laughable quantity we had.

I've been driving manual, rear wheel drive sports cars for the past 25 years exclusivley. Not used to the traction options this car has and was curious about folks "practical" experience with the x3 in snow conditions.

I'll refrain from asking about the correct tyre pressure and oil viscosity one should use.

Thanks for the replies , they were useful and thanks for the defence Toby.
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  #20  
Old 12-17-2010, 11:15 AM
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Evlengr Evlengr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tobyknapp View Post
Wow... Warm and inviting comments for enthusiasts I see. Personally, BMW invited me to SC for the course which I intend to attend in the Spring. I've read the manual as well.

I think people post in forums to cut through the clutter and get real advice from people who have experience with something of common interest.

That's why I posted here asking what i did. I didn't realize that a fellow enthusiast would get flack for agreeing and sharing an experience.

I was told by many that is is the place to come to learn and ask questions and such about our BMW... I hope that continues to be the case.
Sorry, that was uncalled for. I was just coming off the road where I was almost rear-ended by an inattentive driver.

The X3 is a better vehicle than most and behaves differently. So valid questions as driving style should be adjusted.

Good Luck...maybe see you in the spring with Kenza at the M school.
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  #21  
Old 12-17-2010, 05:35 PM
mckchr67 mckchr67 is offline
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First off, wow.. tough bunch around these parts....
Quote:
Originally Posted by CleanKM View Post
Basically, i found an empty parking lot and tried different maneuvers to get a sense of the car's ability because this will be my first winter with the X3.
This is the best thing to do after you read what the buttons do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Porsche996 View Post
I've been driving manual, rear wheel drive sports cars for the past 25 years exclusivley. Not used to the traction options this car has and was curious about folks "practical" experience with the x3 in snow conditions.

I'll refrain from asking about the correct tyre pressure and oil viscosity one should use.
My practical experience with awd suv's sometimes the traction control hurts you if you want to keep your momentum up in deep snow. Best thing is to go power out of some doughnuts in a low key.. snow covered parking lot... I do it with every car to figure out their quirks with various traction and stability settings selected. For those more timid, just google video search, there are always highschool kids going out and beating their parents cars.
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  #22  
Old 12-19-2010, 12:58 PM
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X3 Skier X3 Skier is offline
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Scorpions are OK

Spend every winter in CO with up to 18" of Champagne Powder over night and my Pirelli Scorpions have been more than enough.

Snow Tires will help a lot for some but for me they are a waste of money for which I have other uses.

Cheers
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  #23  
Old 12-20-2010, 11:05 PM
dharmadoggie dharmadoggie is offline
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I drive snowy mountain passes and rutted ski area parking lots regularly in the winter and for me snow tires are a real help. I recall one day, crawling on icy packed snow, seeing other cars including Audis slide right down an inside banked turn while I stayed planted. I have driven better AWD systems for snow than the X3 has, but the X3 is much better on the dry than most other AWD systems. It's that RWD bias. But having said that it works well in snow if you don't overdrive it. (I experimented with that - I can get the rear to come out climbing the aforementioned passes if I try hard enough.) In DC I think you should be fine with all season tires unless you get a big dump, but I expect traffic gridlocks then anyway. Follow the driving advice in some of the posts above.

In my experience 4WD or AWD is much better for traction than RWD or FWD. A good example of this was a Chevy Blazer I drove that had "automatic 4WD". Give it a little extra gas from a stop on the snow and the rears spin, then the fronts engage (with a clunk), and only then the car moves. Another test was hitting the gas hard from a stop in crushed stone in a Grand Cherokee with a 50/50 split. It just took off with no tire spin nor traction control being activated (maybe partly due to the all terrain tires). Any single axle drive car would have spun its drive tires easily, or engaged the traction control. The usual warning applies: 4WD and AWD won't help stopping nor preventing sliding.

A little reported fact: Cars with ABS take twice as far to stop on ice (and icy conditions) as those without. It just makes them stop straighter. Allow lotsa room!
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Last edited by dharmadoggie; 12-20-2010 at 11:09 PM.
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  #24  
Old 12-20-2010, 11:58 PM
littleE46 littleE46 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tobyknapp View Post
Hi, All...

Well, here in DC/MD/Va, we got a bit of snow today and while some people freaked out, others had no problems dealing...

I drive a 2010 X3 and am wondering if you can share some of your advice for how to drive best in snow/bad weather.

-tk
Here is some advise from up here in Canada where there is 10 feet of snow all year round.

Driving in snow is all about managing changes in momentum. All changes in momentum need to be done slowly. Stay off the brakes, give yourself lots of room to slow down slowly without applying the brakes much (or at all if you can avoid it). Stay off the accelerator, pretend there is an egg between your foot and the pedal. Careful with changing lanes or corners, ease into it.

Now if you can find a nice empty parking lot all bets are off and the above does not apply. Certainly press that DTC button to turn off traction control for even more fun.

To be honest I've moved from Alberta (real winters) to Vancouver where people get freaked out by an inch of snow...

oh yeah...one more thing... congratulations on questioning what your SA said and having the courage to ask if you got good advice. If your at all like me, you might have a little attention deficit when it comes to the manuals. I never read it cover to cover when I got mine but really it does have some good gems...

If you have any extra snow send it air mail to Vancouver...it's looking like another wet winter with no snow days.
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  #25  
Old 12-23-2010, 09:05 AM
EEman EEman is offline
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I lived in DC for 20 years and never used snow tires on any car and got around with no problem. Drive with caution and don't get fooled into going too fast for the conditions. There is mostly dry pavement through the winter. We now live in Colorado Springs where the pavement is also dry most of the time and have an 05 X3. We do not use snow tires and our X3 gets us to and from skiing in all kinds of conditions. The original Pirelli Scorpions did well, but I have switched to Continental DWS all seasons.

I won't deny that dedicated winter tires are better, but when we got the X3 I decided to try one winter with all seasons. Then it was a second winter and so on with no problems. I do carry "chains" to the mountains but have never used them and you will find instructions in the operator's manual on their use.

We put Blizzaks on our one series convertible and they are excellent.

Best,

Ed Brady
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