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Old 03-18-2004, 03:14 PM   #1
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2wd vs 4 wd

Question,

If I were to purchase another tow vehicle, how important do you think 4 wheel drive is? I rarely go off roading and I can't help but think that if I have a 3/4 ton pick up with a V-8 / 8.1 engine and 4.10 rear end, that I should have plenty of power and pick up in most any situation.

What are your thoughts? All comments are welcome.
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Old 03-18-2004, 03:20 PM   #2
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Joshua,

From the research I did when looking for a tow vehicle, there is ususally an added bonus that 2WD's have in their tow capacity is ususally higher than the comparable 4WD's.

Dennis
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Old 03-18-2004, 03:23 PM   #3
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I think positive traction would get you out of any situation you should[/B] be in.
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Old 03-18-2004, 03:24 PM   #4
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2 wheel drive will almost always give you more towing capacity over 4 wheel drive. The difference on my Silverado half ton is 300# more. In my situation the 300# is not worth it as the truck has to perform daily even when it snows lots. If the only function the truck had to perform was towing I would probably go with the 2 wheel. Although when the grass is slippery or it is a little muddy in the campground the 4 wheel is nice.
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Old 03-18-2004, 03:32 PM   #5
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When the limited-slip is spinning both rear tires on damp grass, it's nice to be able to switch to 4WD. BTDT. That also may help keep those rear tires from slinging rocks and mud up on the trailer.

Like Pete's, mine is a daily driver on ice and snow, as well.

I think if you stick to highways and paved RV parks, 2WD is fine. But if you venture off pavement, 4WD is a good idea.
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Old 03-18-2004, 03:34 PM   #6
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4wd has nothing to do with power or pickup... only traction. If you travel on snow, mud, gravel, or sand the 4wd has value. Also, the low-range helps to get in/out of difficult spots.

Also, it is impossible to get my trailer out of my summer home driveway without 4wd - the drive is 400 ft long, gravel, and goes up a steep hill at one point. In 2wd the rear wheels spin uselessly. I barely make it out with 4wd.
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Old 03-18-2004, 04:31 PM   #7
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Joshua, I wouldn't be without my 4WD. When these trucks are empty, the back end has so little traction that grass, gravel or snow and ice all require 4WD. I can't get up my son's asphalt driveway in 2WD if there is any snow. (Maryland). I can't reverse into his garage if the mud is wet. All the traction disappears, and the back of the truck goes sideways, precessing like a gyroscope. About once a year I may need 4WD when backing the trailer at an angle on grass or gravel. That's enough for me. A pal of mine has just bought a 2WD dually, and he bogged in sand the first week he had it. That's in Florida. He now wishes he had opted for 4WD. It does, of course, depend on each person's intended use of the vehicle. Many skilled drivers manage with 2WD. Nick
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Old 03-18-2004, 04:59 PM   #8
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4WD is great for getting stuck further from home, I sure miss mine. :-) Another down side is repair costs are typicaly higher for 4WD. Something to consider if you put a lot of miles on in a year.
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Old 03-18-2004, 05:21 PM   #9
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Thanks for all of your replies. After reading everyones comments, I absolutely feel that if I am going to purchase another tow vehicle, it should have 4 wheel drive.

One question I do have, is what exactly does a heavy duty, rear, locking differential do? This is a $295 option on the GMC 2500HD and although I assume it's something that I should get, I would like to know what it is for and how it will help me.

Thanks again for everyones help.
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Old 03-18-2004, 05:48 PM   #10
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4WD... an old saw...

Quote:
Originally posted by joshua32064
Thanks for all of your replies. After reading everyones comments, I absolutely feel that if I am going to purchase another tow vehicle, it should have 4 wheel drive.

One question I do have, is what exactly does a heavy duty, rear, locking differential do? This is a $295 option on the GMC 2500HD and although I assume it's something that I should get, I would like to know what it is for and how it will help me.

Thanks again for everyones help.
Joshua... there's an old saw that goes: "All 4WD does for you is makes the places you get stuck a whole lot worse!"

Seriously, I have 4WD on the Ex and it's been REALLY helpful moving the trailer on wet ground. Few of the campgrounds here have anything but grass, and it can be really interesting trying to get an 8500lb trailer to move on wet grass after it's sat and sunk into soft ground for three or four days.

I'd say the 4WD is a worth-while option, and if you can get limited-slip or a locking differential in the rear for just $300, I'd go for it! It may give you just that extra traction you need someday.

Roger
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Old 03-18-2004, 06:17 PM   #11
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Joshua, you asked what is the function of a locking differential on the rear axle. To enable wheels which are connected by a solid axle to go round corners without scuffing out the tires, the inner wheel has to rotate slower than the outside wheel, while both are driven by the engine. This is accomplished by a clever device called a "differential", which contains fancy gadgets called sun and planet wheels. An unfortunate side effect is that if one wheel goes very fast, perhaps because it is spinning on ice or mud or grass, the other wheel just stops! This is what happens when a 2 WD vehicle hits a slippery spot. A locking differential has the option to lock out this feature, and restore equal motion to each wheel. The ultimate off-road vehicle has 4WD, and locking differentials. My Land Rover Discovery (this is not my tow truck, that's a Ram!)has the ability to lock the differential between the front and rear axles, another cunning ploy. I once bogged down in sand on a Spanish beach at midnight. With the differential locked, first gear low ratio engaged, engine at idle, she dug herself out after several minutes trying to bury herself. I'd go for the locker, but it musn't be used on hard ground, as you'll damage the differential. Nick
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Old 03-18-2004, 06:21 PM   #12
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2wd vs 4 wd

Greetings Joshua!

My last three tow vehicles have had 4WD, but I doubt that my next will. Since 1995, I have only used 4WD once when towing my Overlander - - when entering the VAC parking area at the 1998 WBCCI International Rally in Boise, Idaho. The rest of the time, it has been a little used option so far as towing is concerned. My biggest reason for having 4WD was getting to work in the Winter, and it has been used frequently for that purpose. A move that will take me 400 miles South this summer will negate any significant need for 4WD to get to work so my next tow vehicle (probably about ten years from now when the Suburban will have 300,000 miles) will be 2WD.

I can also see the time in the not too distant future when the 4WD on my Suburban is going to add a significant expense if I choose to keep it operational. I have had two trusted mechanics tell me the same thing - - it looks like the transfer case is going to need a rebuild sometime around 200,000 miles if not a bit before (current estimate is $2,000+). I don't like allowing accessories/features on my vehicles to go without repairs, but if I don't need it to get to work it will be allowed to expire.

Quote:
One question I do have, is what exactly does a heavy duty, rear, locking differential do? This is a $295 option on the GMC 2500HD and although I assume it's something that I should get, I would like to know what it is for and how it will help me.
I have had this option on EVERY tow vehicle that I have owned except my '75 Cadillac Eldorado. The locking differential (or posi-trac as it was often called on cars) helps to redirect power to the wheel that is getting traction rather than the wheel that is slipping. In my experience, this has been a far more valuable option than 4WD for towing; but then again my maximum trailer weight is 6,100 pounds with a hitch weight of 775 pounds.

Good luck with your equipment decisions! It is always exciting ordering a new vehicle.

Kevin
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Old 03-18-2004, 07:06 PM   #13
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I used to poo-poo folks with 4WD. But after having it, I will never go back to 2WD. At our place in Ohio, it is almost impossible to get out of the driveway if there is snow on the ground.

Down here in Florida, 4WD's are as common as they are up North. It does get muddy down here, after heavy rains, on some soil types.
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Old 03-18-2004, 07:23 PM   #14
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For many, many years I have hated four wheel drive. It is heavy, reduces fuel milage, and is something else to break. But when you need it, you need it. Here in the Ozarks I have been stuck on level, paved asphalt when trying to exit a campsite covered in wet fall leaves. The wheels spin just like on ice. I could have eventually got going with two wheel drive, but it would have been a lot tougher.

My coach is parked behind the barn, on grass. Even in dry weather I frequently need the 4X4 to get moving when the grass is damp from dew.

But I still wish I didn't have to have it.

Oh, for your 2500HD the push button 4X4 control is a nice feature as well at just $195, if I remember correctly. And the extending power mirrors are an absolute must!

Mark
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