4 wheel drive and snow

ChriSS K

Original poster
Member
Jan 3, 2012
243
OK guys I'm very new to the whole 4x4 and all the traction/stabilitrac stuff. What is the best setting when driving in the snow? I know to keep in in 4 low, but is it best to turn traction control off and keep stabilitrac on or turn them both off by holding in the traction control button in for 5 sec.?
 

Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
4 Low is only really necessary for extreme conditions. You normally won't need (or want) that. 4 high is fine for most snowy road conditions. I only use 4 high if the roads are covered over with snow, or there is ice. If there are tracks down to the pavement with just snow in between lanes or the center of the lane, I leave it in 2 high. You typically won't want 4 high (let alone 4 low) when the tires are on the pavement.

If I had stabilitrac on mine (mine being an 02 doesn't have it) I'd leave it on.
 

RayVoy

Member
Nov 20, 2011
939
Take a look in your hand book (owner's manual), I think stabilitrac is turned off whenever the truck is shifted into 4 low.
 

bore_pig

Member
Nov 25, 2011
113
ChriSS K said:
OK guys I'm very new to the whole 4x4 and all the traction/stabilitrac stuff. What is the best setting when driving in the snow? I know to keep in in 4 low, but is it best to turn traction control off and keep stabilitrac on or turn them both off by holding in the traction control button in for 5 sec.?

4-lo on the road? Hard to go highway speeds isn't it?:eyebrowhuh: Just use 4-hi, and maybe leave on the stabilitrac too. It'll be best for you.
 

ChriSS K

Original poster
Member
Jan 3, 2012
243
Sorry guys I meant 4HI. I understand that part... It's what to do with all the traction control and what not. I'm confident in my ability to recover from a slide, but I dont want the power taken from me when the wheels start spinning....
 

jrSS

Member
Dec 4, 2011
3,950
Then just turn off the stabilitrak. And I just had my truck in 4 lo just playin in a field to see if it worked.
 

djthumper

Administrator
Nov 20, 2011
14,956
North Las Vegas
Stabilitrak is automatically turned off when in 4lo. You don't want it for much when you are on the roads because your top speed is like 23 MPH in lo. 4hi should be fine if the roads are covered as they have said. Stabilitrak will help you from slipping if it feels slippage in motion.

If you just don't feel comfortable with running in 2WD you can always use auto-4wd in adverse conditions.
 

bore_pig

Member
Nov 25, 2011
113
ChriSS K said:
Sorry guys I meant 4HI. I understand that part... It's what to do with all the traction control and what not. I'm confident in my ability to recover from a slide, but I dont want the power taken from me when the wheels start spinning....

Do whatever you're comfortable with. I've never driven a vehicle with stabilitrak, but isn't that supposed to keep the vehicle avoid starting the "slide" in the first place?
 

jrSS

Member
Dec 4, 2011
3,950
bore_pig said:
Do whatever you're comfortable with. I've never driven a vehicle with stabilitrak, but isn't that supposed to keep the vehicle avoid starting the "slide" in the first place?

I never turn off stabilitrak in 4wd.
 

ChriSS K

Original poster
Member
Jan 3, 2012
243
I just don't like how it pulls power when the wheels start to spin. I could see how this would be good for someone who is not comfortable driving in the snow. Now the one thing I do remember is these control systems are suppost to protect the transfer case when the wheels start spinning. How true is this?
 

jrSS

Member
Dec 4, 2011
3,950
ChriSS K said:
I just don't like how it pulls power when the wheels start to spin. I could see how this would be good for someone who is not comfortable driving in the snow. Now the one thing I do remember is these control systems are suppost to protect the transfer case when the wheels start spinning. How true is this?

Now that's a question roadie will have to answer.
 

djthumper

Administrator
Nov 20, 2011
14,956
North Las Vegas
ChriSS K said:
I just don't like how it pulls power when the wheels start to spin. I could see how this would be good for someone who is not comfortable driving in the snow. Now the one thing I do remember is these control systems are suppost to protect the transfer case when the wheels start spinning. How true is this?

It would actually help the transmission, since a 2WD truck doesn't have a transfer case. It is suppose to help control skidding and traction control. If it senses loss of traction such as in a corner it will cut back engine output and apply braking until proper traction is sensed.

Here is a link to help explain it more. Electronic stability control - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

Short Bus

Member
Dec 2, 2011
1,906
I like 4HI and hold the Stabilitrac button until the light flashes (that's the most you can turn off Stabilitrac) For a cautious driver it's a good idea to leave Stabilitrac on (I like to play in the snow a little).
 

Jkust

Member
Dec 4, 2011
946
Ok if you are not off roading, you would be crazy to turn stabilitrac off. Don't forget that you have two distinctly different systems one is stabilitrac and the other is traction control. You can shut one or both of them off if you want. Stabilitrac won't let you slide so that power that is being taken from one or more of the wheels is making so you stay pointed straight. I can go out onto an all ice lake, and stabilitrac won't let me do anything but go straight. On the road I can gun it around a 90 degree corner on pure ice and it will simply let me turn like I am on dry pavement with no slipping or sideways motion. Stabilitrac goes on my list of best technology to ever be put on a car. What struck me about your post is that you are railing against the exact purpose of stabilitrac. Since I have a Rainier and a 9-7, both of mine are locked into A4wd all the time with no other option. Since I am in MN and our snow and Ice last the entire winter, I can tell you how well A4wd and stabilitrac work vs not using stabilitrac as in my prior Rainier too old to have it.
 

The_Roadie

Lifetime VIP Donor
Member
Nov 19, 2011
9,957
Portland, OR
silvernclean said:
Now that's a question roadie will have to answer.
Actually, I don't have it on my 2004 vehicle or any mention of it in my shop manual, so I know very little about the system. Sorry. Somebody here must have a newer vehicle with a shop manual and can step up to the plate. Come on.......:wink:
 

Ghoster

Lifetime VIP Donor
Member
Nov 18, 2011
1,444
Jkust said:
What struck me about your post is that you are railing against the exact purpose of stabilitrac. Since I have a Rainier and a 9-7, both of mine are locked into A4wd all the time with no other option. Since I am in MN and our snow and Ice last the entire winter, I can tell you how well A4wd and stabilitrac work vs not using stabilitrac as in my prior Rainier too old to have it.

Perhaps the original poster is talking about power reduction effects? The problem arises when you are turning into or through traffic and you lose traction. The various traction systems will reduce power to regain traction. The problem is, you now don't have the power to make that left turn in front of the 18 wheeler bearing down on you, you are moving at 1/4 speed. I have had this happen, not in a gmt 360, but I have had it happen. Its pretty damn scary when it happens too. Stabilitrac, and other manufacturers similar systems, are amazing. They help you correct problems that SHOULD have put you in the ditch. I think the thing to remember is that the vast majority of time it will help you. I would only turn mine off if I was off roading.............

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Jkust

Member
Dec 4, 2011
946
Ghoster said:
The problem arises when you are turning into or through traffic and you lose traction. The various traction systems will reduce power to regain traction. QUOTE]

Yep that's the traction control system not the stabilitrac system. Every car i've owned since my 1995 has had traction control that does exactly as you describe. We've all been in your shoes. Usually, that is when the AWD system kicks in on my 360's and pulls you through. Also a g80 or g86 will obviously help out in certain conditions as well.
 

HARDTRAILZ

Moderator
Nov 18, 2011
49,665
I use 2wd in the snow...
 

Chickenhawk

Member
Dec 6, 2011
782
The "best" advice I have read was from the "other" site, in response to a problem where a truck wants to do a "360" on ice. (Somehow, I think he meant a 180, but whatever.) He was advised he should air down his tires in winter for better traction.

Hahahahaha.

I may have read WORSE advice on an internet forum somewhere, but that one is right up there!

It is almost as bad as someone noob telling another noob to make sure you always put the new tires with the best tread on the FRONT of the vehicle because the front tires need to turn.:mad::mad::mad::mad::mad:

Keep your tires well inflated in the winter. Most P-metric tires get their maximum traction at 80 to 90% of the maximum pressure as listed on the sidewall. In winter, it is better to go towards the upper end of that scale. (Make sure you measure the tire pressures COLD; maximum sidewall pressures already account for the increased pressure when warm. The listed pressure is for a cold tire.)

The other issue with Stabiltrac that will be a more and more common complaint in years to come is the various sensors that are required to keep it working, most particularly the steering wheel angle position sensor. I have never taken one apart but I speculate it has some version of a variable resistor in there and because one most often uses the straight ahead position while driving, the outer edges of the sensors don't get used as much and may not make as good contact. If you truck sits for a few days and especially if left with the steering wheel slightly off to the side, you may get a Service Stabiltrac warning light when you first start up. If you drive for a minute, turn it off and then restart the truck, it usually goes away. Very common problem.

Hey, we should get Roadie to research this problem some more. I would like to know what the sensor looks like on the inside.
 

Jkust

Member
Dec 4, 2011
946
Chickenhawk said:
It is almost as bad as someone noob telling another noob to make sure you always put the new tires with the best tread on the FRONT of the vehicle because the front tires need to turn.:mad::mad::mad::mad::mad:

Keep your tires well inflated in the winter. Most P-metric tires get their maximum traction at 80 to 90% of the maximum pressure as listed on the sidewall. In winter, it is better to go towards the upper end of that scale. (Make sure you measure the tire pressures COLD; maximum sidewall pressures already account for the increased pressure when warm. The listed pressure is for a cold tire.)

.

The OP has a TPMS and so can see in real time cold or warm, the actual tire pressures. I presume he is maintaining his tire pressures.
 

djthumper

Administrator
Nov 20, 2011
14,956
North Las Vegas
the roadie said:
Actually, I don't have it on my 2004 vehicle or any mention of it in my shop manual, so I know very little about the system. Sorry. Somebody here must have a newer vehicle with a shop manual and can step up to the plate. Come on.......:wink:

Some of us are trying to explain this thing. having an 06 I have it and turn it off when I am on washboard roads and what not where it cuts back my power and forward momentum.


Jkust said:
Ok if you are not off roading, you would be crazy to turn stabilitrac off. Don't forget that you have two distinctly different systems one is stabilitrac and the other is traction control. You can shut one or both of them off if you want. Stabilitrac won't let you slide so that power that is being taken from one or more of the wheels is making so you stay pointed straight. I can go out onto an all ice lake, and stabilitrac won't let me do anything but go straight. On the road I can gun it around a 90 degree corner on pure ice and it will simply let me turn like I am on dry pavement with no slipping or sideways motion. Stabilitrac goes on my list of best technology to ever be put on a car. What struck me about your post is that you are railing against the exact purpose of stabilitrac. Since I have a Rainier and a 9-7, both of mine are locked into A4wd all the time with no other option. Since I am in MN and our snow and Ice last the entire winter, I can tell you how well A4wd and stabilitrac work vs not using stabilitrac as in my prior Rainier too old to have it.

Stabilitrak is an advanced version of traction control and stability control and they work in conjunction with each other as I stated in my previous post.
 

ChriSS K

Original poster
Member
Jan 3, 2012
243
Lots of good info/opinions here guys. The more I read it would seem that my problem is more with traction contol. I've been driving big RWD cars with studded snow tires all my like so I'm confided in my ability to drive in harsh conditions vs someone who is not and could benefit more from these advancements in controls. Not to say I'm the best at snow driving... Either way the thing that I don't want is my power to cut out on me when my tires start to spin. Esp if I'm trying to get up a hill or into a turn. Thats all I'm saying.
 

Fire06

Member
Dec 18, 2011
7,223
I have the features mentioned and all I know is that when you want to play and kick out the rear end the system kicks in and takes away the fun off drifting around turns in the snow.. They work to keep you going straight in a safe manor in a controlled way
 

Jkust

Member
Dec 4, 2011
946
Fire06 said:
I have the features mentioned and all I know is that when you want to play and kick out the rear end the system kicks in and takes away the fun off drifting around turns in the snow.. They work to keep you going straight in a safe manor in a controlled way

Yep my fisrt 360 with AWD, no stabilitrac and a G80 was flat out dangerous around icy corners. If you didn't coast, and the locker locked up you had a 100% chance of doing at least a 180. It was like a suicide machine.
 

Ghoster

Lifetime VIP Donor
Member
Nov 18, 2011
1,444
Ghoster said:
Perhaps the original poster is talking about power reduction effects? The problem arises when you are turning into or through traffic and you lose traction. The various traction systems will reduce power to regain traction. The problem is, you now don't have the power to make that left turn in front of the 18 wheeler bearing down on you, you are moving at 1/4 speed. I have had this happen, not in a gmt 360, but I have had it happen. Its pretty damn scary when it happens too. Stabilitrac, and other manufacturers similar systems, are amazing. They help you correct problems that SHOULD have put you in the ditch. I think the thing to remember is that the vast majority of time it will help you. I would only turn mine off if I was off roading.............

:biggrin:

ChriSS K said:
Lots of good info/opinions here guys. The more I read it would seem that my problem is more with traction contol. I've been driving big RWD cars with studded snow tires all my like so I'm confided in my ability to drive in harsh conditions vs someone who is not and could benefit more from these advancements in controls. Not to say I'm the best at snow driving... Either way the thing that I don't want is my power to cut out on me when my tires start to spin. Esp if I'm trying to get up a hill or into a turn. Thats all I'm saying.

As I had suspected. I know the situation you are describing. I had it happen in a 4WD GMT, so with stabilitrac and traction control it can still happen. Left turns through traffic become very perilous.
 

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