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Old 12-14-2019, 11:35 AM   #1
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4x4 vs rear locker/LSD for snow and ice

I know this is a bit of religious debate but can someone that has a 2wd w/ rear locker (or possibly a rear limited slip) tell me that they're van does great for my needs compared to spending the money on a 4x4 conversion?

Won't use the van for much rough offroad like in Moab or the mountains. Mainly need to handle snow and ice. Our driveway is long and steep and we get a lot of snow and ice on it that sometimes doesn't get plowed and even when it does gets icy. I also will use the van for winter trips with the family where we often travel in snow and ice over passes, etc. And it will be a daily driver where we get snow and ice in town.
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Old 12-14-2019, 12:41 PM   #2
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There some real value in having front wheels pull you along particularly when trying to make a turn in nasty conditions as well as pulling you up a steep slippery hill. Otherwise the rear is going to want to come out. I’ve got a fair amount of experience with Ford and Gms versions of limited slip type rear ends, and while I do think they help, it’s hard to beat having the front pull in the type of conditions you mention.

Have you considered the AWD version of the GM vans? They’d be a great option for you I’d think. Kinda hard to find in good condition these days, but fantastic for slippery roads if that’s your main concern.
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Old 12-14-2019, 12:53 PM   #3
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Does great? No. Gets the job done? Yes. I don't put on a ton of snow miles, but we did see a good amount out in the desert over Thanksgiving and had no issues dragging our travel trailer through it and over one sizeable grade while heavily snowing. While I do have a 2wd with a Detroit locker, and it does fine in a few inches of snow, it would not be my first choice for ice use as it will kick out the rear/send you into a spin if you aren't carefull. I'm used to it, but I could see how it could end up putting someone in a ditch.

That said, I'd say to start with a rear limited slip (Detroit Tru Trac seems popular on this forum) and if you decide that you still need 4x4, you won't be out anything as you can reuse your rear axle. Good snow tires (lots of siping) will likely make as much/more of a difference than adding a limited slip/locker for your use, so if you don't already have them, add that to your list.
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Old 12-14-2019, 01:53 PM   #4
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Iíll take a 2WD with LSD and real snow tires over 4x4 with regular tires any day. If you get that much snow, invest in good snow tires for your rig. A lot cheaper than a tow and insurance deductible. Throw a good set of tire chains in the mix for extreme conditions.

The above presumes that your van has weight in the rear, either as a camper build out or whatever.
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Old 12-14-2019, 03:40 PM   #5
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Good to hear because that's kinda the way I was leaning. Go with a TrueTrac and great snow tires and then later decide if I need 4x4. Great snow tires are so worth their money alone for just the insurance value of avoiding a wreck. My other two 4x4/AWD diesels have them for sure.
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Old 12-14-2019, 04:07 PM   #6
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LSD is better in snow and ice for regular driving. Several threads on the forum about that issue that may be worth reading.
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Old 12-15-2019, 12:02 PM   #7
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I went a season with 2WD and limited slip while I waited for my 4x conversion opportunity. I put KO2ís on there right away and beefed them up to 265ís. The tires alone made a huge difference in grip and I was glad to have them. But I definitely restricted my range in the winter mountains until the 4x. Everything here is vertical and rear drive alone just doesnít cut it for me on slippery slopes. Chains can help, sure, but I hate Ďem.

It makes a ton of sense to go that route and see if it works for you. You can always add the 4x later and, that way, you get to choose which system you want to install.
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Old 12-15-2019, 12:23 PM   #8
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The video in this article is pretty informative.

https://jalopnik.com/lets-settle-the...bat-1462180324
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Old 12-15-2019, 01:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Otter View Post
Everything here is vertical and rear drive alone just doesnít cut it for me on slippery slopes. Chains can help, sure, but I hate Ďem.

It makes a ton of sense to go that route and see if it works for you. You can always add the 4x later and, that way, you get to choose which system you want to install.
^ This. If you drive mainly flatlands, OK. But I learned long ago - going down a steep slope with only 2wd and marginal traction conditions (even on gravel) and all of a sudden there's a problem up ahead and you can't turn around so you have to back up. Good luck backing up a van that's heading downhill when all you have is 2wd. Better have a LOT of weight by the rear doors! I can remember loading a huge pile of boulders into the back of my old van so I could back up a hill. That's when I went into debt for a 4x4.
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Old 12-15-2019, 03:39 PM   #10
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If cost and or time was the sole limiting factor for me I would say limited slip differential (which every type/brand you like the best) and a dedicated set of studless snow tires with rims would be the way to go. I realize that it's not the coolest answer but IMHO it would be, by far, the best bang for the buck.



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