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Snow driving - weight the rear for AWD cars?


Dan
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A question on snow driving: I have a Subaru Outback wagon with AWD (the official car of the PNW), and I've been carrying a bag of sand in the back for the last two winters. It works...at least, I think it works: no wrecks so far (doesn't hurt that I drive like a little old lady on snow).

I'm curious though: how much weight should I ideally be carrying back there? My sandbag is one of those "car weight" things they sell at Home Depot - sold by volume, not weight, but I'm guessing it's around 75 pounds.

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I can't imagine weight helping in an awd vehicle either. Driving wheels carry ALL of the subaru's weight, unlike a pickup, where non-driving wheels carry much of the weight. The only difference I would see is the overall weight helping your traction.

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I'm not sure why that would help with a Subie, I believe their AWD is usually about 90% FWD until there's some slippage.

Nope, you're thinking about most other inferior part-time 4wd systems. Subaru AWD is symmetric, with most at an even 50/50 split (some are 45/55 or 65/35 depending on VDC and DCCD).

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All I can say is I've never given a thought to where the weight is in my '05 OB, and it's never been anything but amazing in the snow, and I don't drive like a little old lady in the snow (Yeah, I'm careful... especially when there are others on the road... but not little-old-lady careful.) I think you can leave the weight at home... decent snow tires are the key to having your Outback behave on snow IMHO.

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Nope, you're thinking about most other inferior part-time 4wd systems. Subaru AWD is symmetric, with most at an even 50/50 split (some are 45/55 or 65/35 depending on VDC and DCCD).
A little more googling reveals that Suburu's system splits torque depending on slippage using viscous coupling, but normal operation is 50/50. At any rate, my point is valid - there's no reason to be adding sandbags with a sophisticated AWD system figuring out where to apply the power based on what the wheels are actually doing.
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That Subie is a hatchback right? Do you know what will happen to that sandbag if you get into a serious crash? It gets launched. If you want a heavy weight in the back, make sure it's seriously strapped down.

I once witnessed an accident where a toolbox killed a guy. The toolbox was on the floor in the back seat.

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Nope, you're thinking about most other inferior part-time 4wd systems. Subaru AWD is symmetric, with most at an even 50/50 split (some are 45/55 or 65/35 depending on VDC and DCCD).

The old automatic trannys (at least until 2005 I think ) were 90/10 until the rear starts slipping, then it applies more to the rears.

The standard trannys are 50/50 split all the time.

You don't need any freakin sand in the back, just good tires. I used to have a '90 loyal and it's lightness prevented me from getting stuck. I drove right on by stranded SUV's, police cruisers and tow trucks in a 2+ foot snowstorm in VT. It was like the headliner was full of helium...

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accelerating and driving that sand around is hurting your gas mileage.

only a rwd pick-up truck needs winter ballast.

But hey, if you're one of those types who believes awd/4wd allows them to drive/corner faster on snow, that's great. My friend needs a liver. :p

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