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E90/E91/E92/E93 (2006 - 2013)
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Old 01-08-2014, 10:36 PM
hemismith hemismith is offline
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RWD vs AWD

I found the article on the home page very interesting that compared 2wd vs awd and regular tires to snow tires. My other cars are awd with winter tires, but I also have a 328 awd with regular tires. I'm considering 2wd with winter tires as an alternative. I've had fwd and rwd without winter tires and slipped plenty, but I've never tried winter tires on a 2wd car. Has anyone here had both a rwd and awd 3 series in snow?

Obviously awd doesn't help with braking and cornering, the most important safety factors. fwd has always been considered better than rwd because of the increased weight over the driving wheels, but the article made me think twice. Although weight transfer under acceleration is probably not a huge issue since you can't accelerate fast in the snow, weight transfer going up a hill (which is when you need it the most) gives rwd the advantage. And with more evenly distributed weight, braking and cornering are better too, so maybe rwd is actually better than fwd -- as long as you have enough traction to get going on the flat. I've had scary situations in other rwd cars where the tail would slide out when going around a corner.

P.S. I'm fully aware of the sport/performance factors, mainly just wondering how a rwd with winter tires compares to an awd without winter tires from a daily driver acceleration perspective.

Last edited by hemismith; 01-08-2014 at 10:39 PM.
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Old 01-09-2014, 12:06 AM
Miller335 Miller335 is offline
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I just drive my beater honda or my wife's 4x4 Tahoe in the bad weather.

Summer tires and RWD for my BMW's, seems out of character otherwise.

Last edited by Miller335; 01-09-2014 at 12:17 AM.
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Old 01-09-2014, 12:44 AM
3star 3star is offline
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The BMW is RWD on winters the SUV is AWD on summers. Really the performance will be based on the type of AWd system on the car. I cant speak for BMW's system but i know for a fact that AWD isnt invincible I have gotten my moms mechanical AWD suzuki stuck in the mud before

At the end of the day tires make all the difference

Last edited by 3star; 01-09-2014 at 12:49 AM.
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Old 01-09-2014, 12:48 AM
Miller335 Miller335 is offline
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Originally Posted by 3star View Post
I'd like to see that BMW vs. a full size 4x4 truck/SUV on all season tires.
Those mid size vehicles don't have enough weight pushing down on the tires.

Last edited by Miller335; 01-09-2014 at 12:49 AM.
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Old 01-09-2014, 12:48 AM
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opps, dbl tap
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Old 01-09-2014, 12:55 AM
3star 3star is offline
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Semis get stuck all the time weight isnt everything

True they are dually RWD but still
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Old 01-09-2014, 01:09 AM
Miller335 Miller335 is offline
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If semi's were AWD and didn't have to haul around dead weight they would do excellent in the snow I would think.

I would love to see one do a 10 wheel burnout in the snow.
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Old 01-09-2014, 05:25 AM
hondo402000 hondo402000 is offline
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Originally Posted by 3star View Post


The BMW is RWD on winters the SUV is AWD on summers. Really the performance will be based on the type of AWd system on the car. I cant speak for BMW's system but i know for a fact that AWD isnt invincible I have gotten my moms mechanical AWD suzuki stuck in the mud before

At the end of the day tires make all the difference
that is because AWD is not 4 wheel drive, depending on the system AWD does drive 4 wheels but the amount of power to the front wheels is not 100 percent, and also, AWD still has open differentials which means that you still get wheel spin on the wheels that dont have traction, if you plan on driving in mud, snow and ice, you have to have true 4 wheel drive with locking differentials
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Old 01-09-2014, 05:59 AM
sunny5280 sunny5280 is offline
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I've owned a 1999 328i (RWD) and a 2001 330xi (AWD). This is the older E46 generation of BMW. The 328i with winter tires stopped and cornered better than the AWD with all seasons. For acceleration the AWD noticeably outperformed the RWD.

As one expects a tire (winter) designed for a certain use case (winter) outperforms a tire not specifically designed for said use case. And, as your research has found, it is the, by far, common comparison you'll see. This is like saying a mini-van is better for hauling kids than a truck. Where I'm going with this is there's other use cases. Here in Colorado road conditions which make RWD/AWD, winter/all-season a moot point for much of the year. We see temperature swings from 60 degrees one day to single digits the next. The majority of time we're not at such cold temperatures. IMO buying winter tires for the Denver metro area doesn't make a lot of sense because the conditions where they excel aren't all that common. I'd say the same thing about upstate NY (though the conditions are more prevalent there).

In the end it's my opinion unless you have a specific desire to have RWD there's little downside to AWD.
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Old 01-09-2014, 06:43 AM
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CALWATERBOY CALWATERBOY is offline
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Originally Posted by hemismith View Post
obviously awd doesn't help with braking and cornering, the most important safety factors....

I've had scary situations in other rwd cars where the tail would slide out when going around a corner.

>cough<
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Old 01-09-2014, 07:18 AM
mossman35 mossman35 is offline
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Originally Posted by hondo402000 View Post
that is because AWD is not 4 wheel drive, depending on the system AWD does drive 4 wheels but the amount of power to the front wheels is not 100 percent, and also, AWD still has open differentials which means that you still get wheel spin on the wheels that don't have traction, if you plan on driving in mud, snow and ice, you have to have true 4 wheel drive with locking differentials
Unless you are off roading, 4WD has zero benefit over AWD. Stability control's ability to use brakes to re-route power is very effective for on road use. Ever try to steer a full 4WD vehicle with diffs locked? It's not practical and has it's own set of problems. Most manufacturers are realizing that not many people need a 4WD system and most vehicles have dropped them. AWD saves weight and is very effective for 99% of the people buying them.

The other HUGE benefit of AWD, is in semi slippery conditions the system is on. Say highway, 65 mph slight drizzle/snow or freezing rain. I would MUCH rather be in an AWD system compared to a 4WD system where it would be impractical to turn it on.

I can't tell you the number of 4WD SUV's I pass with ease during winter. To the other post, weight does little good... especially when all that weight starts going in the wrong direction. I'd much rather be in a car with more control, less weight and excellent traction. Ground clearance is rarely a problem unless it is over 8 inches thick...... no matter what those Jeep commercials show.
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Old 01-09-2014, 07:37 AM
RobertoCervezas RobertoCervezas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hemismith View Post
I found the article on the home page very interesting that compared 2wd vs awd and regular tires to snow tires. My other cars are awd with winter tires, but I also have a 328 awd with regular tires. I'm considering 2wd with winter tires as an alternative. I've had fwd and rwd without winter tires and slipped plenty, but I've never tried winter tires on a 2wd car. Has anyone here had both a rwd and awd 3 series in snow?

Obviously awd doesn't help with braking and cornering, the most important safety factors. fwd has always been considered better than rwd because of the increased weight over the driving wheels, but the article made me think twice. Although weight transfer under acceleration is probably not a huge issue since you can't accelerate fast in the snow, weight transfer going up a hill (which is when you need it the most) gives rwd the advantage. And with more evenly distributed weight, braking and cornering are better too, so maybe rwd is actually better than fwd -- as long as you have enough traction to get going on the flat. I've had scary situations in other rwd cars where the tail would slide out when going around a corner.

P.S. I'm fully aware of the sport/performance factors, mainly just wondering how a rwd with winter tires compares to an awd without winter tires from a daily driver acceleration perspective.
I have experienced both, although my awd experience is in a manual tranny wrx. As long as you are comfortable in your driving ability rwd with winter tires is great. I prefer the stopping and turning ability of this setup vs the go-anywhere advantage that the awd still has imo. The tail kicks out but nothing that cannot be controled. If the snow were super deep, I would probably opt for the awd on all seasons. I feel this setup still has an advantage for getting unstuck vs rwd on winters.

PS- I do have my 2 front summer wheels/tires in my trunk for extra traction
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Old 01-09-2014, 08:00 AM
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Chris90 Chris90 is offline
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Originally Posted by 3star View Post
Semis get stuck all the time weight isnt everything

True they are dually RWD but still
+1 My brother went to tank school when he was a Lieutenant, they drove M1 tanks in the snow. (or maybe it was when he was stationed in Colorado Springs). He said it slides around all over the place.
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Old 01-09-2014, 08:03 AM
hemismith hemismith is offline
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Originally Posted by CALWATERBOY View Post
>cough<
Let me clarify -- awd helps coming out of a corner, but I was only talking about going in. Does that make more sense?
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Old 01-09-2014, 08:06 AM
hemismith hemismith is offline
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Originally Posted by Miller335 View Post
I just drive my beater honda or my wife's 4x4 Tahoe in the bad weather.

Summer tires and RWD for my BMW's, seems out of character otherwise.
If I had a fast manual trans car that I occasionally tracked, sure, but although all 3-series BMWs handle well I consider most daily drivers, and I can't justify having an extra car around for occasional use.
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Old 01-09-2014, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by sunny5280 View Post
I've owned a 1999 328i (RWD) and a 2001 330xi (AWD). This is the older E46 generation of BMW. The 328i with winter tires stopped and cornered better than the AWD with all seasons. For acceleration the AWD noticeably outperformed the RWD.
That's my experience owning two 3 series w/ RWD and snow tires, and two Subarus with all seasons.

We had to change the tires in the Subarus to Nokian all seasons, cause on stock all seasons they were kinda dangerous in snow.

Both types require some driving skill - the rear drive car you have to be light on the throttle starting off, and you should know how to countersteer, although now DSC makes that unnecessary.

With AWD you really need to stay on the gas in corners to take advantage of AWD, you don't want to lift off or coast through corners.

AWD is better for not just accelerating but cruising, like at 30 mph in snow on the highway, it's more stable than RWD w/ snows.
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Old 01-09-2014, 08:07 AM
hemismith hemismith is offline
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Originally Posted by sunny5280 View Post
In the end it's my opinion unless you have a specific desire to have RWD there's little downside to AWD.
Except cost and availability.
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Old 01-09-2014, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by hemismith View Post
Let me clarify -- awd helps coming out of a corner, but I was only talking about going in. Does that make more sense?

Well, rwd usually fishtails when traction lost due to power applied.

Some cars have substantially more weight over the front wheels, meaning rears might lose traction before front, but BMW's pretty well balanced. Dunno about vectors due to steering in the slippery.
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Old 01-09-2014, 08:11 AM
hemismith hemismith is offline
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Originally Posted by 3star View Post
The BMW is RWD on winters the SUV is AWD on summers. Really the performance will be based on the type of AWd system on the car. I cant speak for BMW's system but i know for a fact that AWD isnt invincible I have gotten my moms mechanical AWD suzuki stuck in the mud before

At the end of the day tires make all the difference
True, you can't overcome the limitations of the tires or the road conditions. But with twice as many tires being driven you have a lot more capability before you hit the limit. And if it's truly summer tires then that's not really a good comparison as they have known severe limitations in the winter.
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Old 01-09-2014, 08:15 AM
hemismith hemismith is offline
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Originally Posted by hondo402000 View Post
that is because AWD is not 4 wheel drive, depending on the system AWD does drive 4 wheels but the amount of power to the front wheels is not 100 percent, and also, AWD still has open differentials which means that you still get wheel spin on the wheels that dont have traction, if you plan on driving in mud, snow and ice, you have to have true 4 wheel drive with locking differentials
True, there are many systems and they are not all equal, but some awd systems do have the ability to essentially lock all differentials. I don't know anything about xdrive yet.
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Old 01-09-2014, 08:19 AM
hemismith hemismith is offline
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Originally Posted by sunny5280 View Post
I've owned a 1999 328i (RWD) and a 2001 330xi (AWD). This is the older E46 generation of BMW. The 328i with winter tires stopped and cornered better than the AWD with all seasons. For acceleration the AWD noticeably outperformed the RWD.

As one expects a tire (winter) designed for a certain use case (winter) outperforms a tire not specifically designed for said use case. And, as your research has found, it is the, by far, common comparison you'll see. This is like saying a mini-van is better for hauling kids than a truck. Where I'm going with this is there's other use cases. Here in Colorado road conditions which make RWD/AWD, winter/all-season a moot point for much of the year. We see temperature swings from 60 degrees one day to single digits the next. The majority of time we're not at such cold temperatures. IMO buying winter tires for the Denver metro area doesn't make a lot of sense because the conditions where they excel aren't all that common. I'd say the same thing about upstate NY (though the conditions are more prevalent there).
Conditions are similar here as well, but the rare time you really need something (whether it be winter tires or awd) it's invaluable. One accident can really ruin a day. In my case though the biggest problem is just in my neighborhood. On the flip side, winter tires in warm conditions are not safe either.
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Old 01-09-2014, 08:23 AM
sunny5280 sunny5280 is offline
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Except cost and availability.
Note I said "little downside" as opposed to "no downside".
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Old 01-09-2014, 08:25 AM
sunny5280 sunny5280 is offline
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Originally Posted by hemismith View Post
Conditions are similar here as well, but the rare time you really need something (whether it be winter tires or awd) it's invaluable. One accident can really ruin a day. In my case though the biggest problem is just in my neighborhood. On the flip side, winter tires in warm conditions are not safe either.
Winter tires are no guarantee one won't be the cause of an accident. The single thing one can do to minimize their chances of getting in an accident during winter conditions is to slow down. That advice applies no matter what tires you're using.
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Old 01-09-2014, 08:26 AM
hemismith hemismith is offline
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Originally Posted by mossman35 View Post
Unless you are off roading, 4WD has zero benefit over AWD. Stability control's ability to use brakes to re-route power is very effective for on road use. Ever try to steer a full 4WD vehicle with diffs locked? It's not practical and has it's own set of problems. Most manufacturers are realizing that not many people need a 4WD system and most vehicles have dropped them. AWD saves weight and is very effective for 99% of the people buying them.

The other HUGE benefit of AWD, is in semi slippery conditions the system is on. Say highway, 65 mph slight drizzle/snow or freezing rain. I would MUCH rather be in an AWD system compared to a 4WD system where it would be impractical to turn it on.

I can't tell you the number of 4WD SUV's I pass with ease during winter. To the other post, weight does little good... especially when all that weight starts going in the wrong direction. I'd much rather be in a car with more control, less weight and excellent traction. Ground clearance is rarely a problem unless it is over 8 inches thick...... no matter what those Jeep commercials show.
Good points. Yes, the 4WD in my trucks was useless most of the time. And the article agreed that awd on A/S tires was better for getting going than rwd on winters, but the question is how much of an issue is that in most cases. I do have two awd SUVs with winter tires for the the mountains, although I got stuck this year in an early snow before I put the winters on. It got compacted and icy. But the mistake I made I think was to put it in 4wd low mode, which turned off traction control. I wasn't outside the car so I could never see for sure, but I think that just locked the front and rear and not side to side.

Last edited by hemismith; 01-09-2014 at 08:30 AM.
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Old 01-09-2014, 08:27 AM
hemismith hemismith is offline
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Originally Posted by Chris90 View Post
AWD is better for not just accelerating but cruising, like at 30 mph in snow on the highway, it's more stable than RWD w/ snows.
Good points. And yes, not all all-season tires are created equal (as well as not all winters).
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