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Old 11-12-2014, 06:20 PM   #1
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2WD vs 4WD

Hi ..M newbie looking to get tow vehicle. How important is it to have a 2WD vs a 4WD? getting information all over the map. Thanks...this is a great forum!

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Old 11-12-2014, 06:42 PM   #2
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

2wd vs. 4wd is a matter of camping style. We use a 4wd towvehicle because we like to strike out into the back country while we are on our Airstream adventures. For most Arstreaming, a 2wd is quite sufficient.


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Old 11-12-2014, 06:43 PM   #3
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Personally, I own a Corvette and a Camaro that are two wheel drive. Everything else is either 4WD or AWD. But then I live in Iowa.

(Iowa is not the end of the world, but you can see it from here.)

Seriously tho, I have been in many situations pulling a trailer when I needed that front axle to help pull the load, on ice, gravel, mud, and even wet grass.

Before I had 4WD TVs I was just stuck in those situations. I think my decision to buy a 4WD TV was when I could not make it up a muddy gravel hill that led to the campground down at Mountain Home, Arkansas.

A guy in a 4WD Ford offered to pull me and my AS up that hill. All I could think about was rock damage all over my TV and AS. He promised that he would not spin a single wheel, and everything would be fine.

True to his word we went right up that hill, so easily. By the end of the month, I had a new 4WD TV, and I've never looked back.

I have 3 trucks in my company for my mgrs to drive. They are all 4WD; I will never buy another 2WD truck.
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Old 11-12-2014, 06:51 PM   #4
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When we got our new TV we were looking for AWD, because occasionally our 2WD van had gotten stuck on slick grass or muddy campsites. I think AWD will do the trick for us.

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Old 11-12-2014, 06:53 PM   #5
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If I didn't have AWD on the X5 I couldn't back the AS into my back yard, as I have to climb a curb and a slight up hill on grass. Additionally, the X5 has a relatively short wheel base which allows greater maneuverability in the confines of my back yard. A 2 wheel drive pick up truck would be problematic in both tractive effort and maneuverability.
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Old 11-12-2014, 06:56 PM   #6
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There are other threads on this topic and worth reading. I figure I'll need 4WD if the local police spec their vehicles that way. In the meantime the lower purchase price and lower operational cost make 2WD economical.

Plus the lower CG and -- with my brand of truck and spec -- the IFS plus rack & pinion steering make for better handling since one has more accurate feedback.

Where AWD is available on a car or non-pickup SUV it may be a better choice.

Fully independent suspension is a better question for what is wanted in a TV for this trailer type. Things tend to go downhill from there. Use a European turbodiesel as tops. The bottom feeder is a live axle 4WD pickup that is lifted on off-road tires.

Again, this has been covered before and the threads deserve reading.

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Old 11-12-2014, 07:00 PM   #7
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Even though we don't camp a lot off the pavement, I still find that about once a season I'll have to put my truck in 4 wheel drive to back the camper into gravel camping pads that have a slight uphill grade. Also, just this summer in Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains we had to park the truck pointed downhill on wet grass. After a nice bike ride, I tried to back up, no luck just spinning. Pushed the button, drove right out. How long would it have taken to get someone to pull me up the hill- don't know but you can see that 4 wheel drive is worth every penny when you need it.
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Old 11-12-2014, 07:04 PM   #8
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I have only driven 2wd vehicles since I started driving back in 1969 in NW Ohio. I would only buy 2wd that has a limited slip rear differential. I also prefer Ford trucks because they seem to develop their torque at a lower RPM than the other brands, all of these with gas engines.
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Old 11-12-2014, 07:05 PM   #9
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You may ultimately have to sacrifice some fuel economy but I agree with Terry. When you need it, it's worth it. Some camp sites or roads into those sites have ruts, sand, gravel, mud etc. and nothing can ruin a day more than spinning your wheels while your trailer is attached.

Towing aside I've always been a proponent of AWD vehicles, both my daily drivers are Audi's.
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Old 11-12-2014, 07:18 PM   #10
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I drive 4wd, need it where I live, which was my first concern. Towing came se ond and it all works out, but then I tow a bambi.
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Old 11-12-2014, 08:36 PM   #11
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Been wondering about this issue myself. Did an extensive search on this subject on this site, and one lengthy thread got into a discussion that 4WD is not 4WD, but two-wheel drive because of differentials (one front and one rear can spin). The consensus was that a 2WD with locking differential is superior. But just try to find a used truck with locking differential. Hah! Not in my part of the world.

Also, I've yet to see anyone address the mileage issue with real numbers and cost over the life of the vehicle. I agree that 4WD is nice *IF* and when you need it, but the reality is the fact that 99.99% of most driving is done on paved highways.
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Old 11-12-2014, 09:18 PM   #12
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And that is the reason I wanted 4WD, to get away from the 99%!
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Old 11-12-2014, 09:20 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by 68 TWind View Post
4 wheel drive is worth every penny when you need it.
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Old 11-12-2014, 09:31 PM   #14
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It depends on how many tow vehicles you can afford! We have 2. Vehicles and I am the only driver. Corvette for cruising and 4x4 for everything else because where we live you couldn't go out of the city without one.
If you never go off road and your winters aren't severe then a 4x2 is probably all you need especially if it has a locking rear (GM) which below 20 mph is probably as good as a lot of 4x4's that only have limited slip.

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Old 11-12-2014, 09:54 PM   #15
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I had a 2WD Chevy Silverado 2500 Diesel - a mighty, mighty truck until you got on mud or wet grass or snow.

My new tow vehicle is a Ford Ecoboost 150 - which impressed the heck out of me during 3 unanticipated snowstorms last winter.

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Old 11-12-2014, 10:39 PM   #16
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...truly nice to be able to flick a switch and go into 4wd to get you out of predicaments ...INSTEAD of calling a tow truck. If your budget allows, go for it; when it comes time to trade / sell your TV, the 4wd will have cost you little and provided peace of mind! Ditto here for a Corvette and 4x4 ... same as George M.
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Old 11-13-2014, 06:08 AM   #17
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I still say 2wd with limited slip rear end. During the winter I believe in a well stocked pantry and fire wood rack. Our normal winter snow fall is 35" to 40", last year it was about 100". When it snowed heavy it was time to enjoy the snow outside and the fire inside. I feel that the cost of 4wd for the once or twice a year that we truly need it here is way to high. After 40 years of working in the streets year around I have seen many accidents because of to much speed of vehicles with 4wd or Awd.
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Old 11-13-2014, 06:14 AM   #18
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Answers are all over the map because everyone has different needs.

We went with 4WD in case of snow at home. Then we discovered that we almost always need the 4WD when we're backing the trailer in across the yard - our yard is a sloppy mess if it rained any time in the last few days. We use 4WD a lot, so we wouldn't buy a truck without it. Other people may never need it.
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Old 11-13-2014, 06:43 AM   #19
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I have used both 2wd and 4wd to tow.

4wd is invaluable when you need in a pinch or if you are pulling your trailer on rough trails. You have to balance that with the extra upfront and maintenance/repair costs.

There are significant traction factors to consider either way............

  • Tires. Load range E tires with reasonably quiet tread for highway, inflated to 60+ psi, are pretty much worthless in mud, sand, loose gravel or icy conditions - 2WD or 4WD.
  • Locking differentials. A 2WD truck without a locking rear differential, is a 1WD in low traction situations. A 4WD truck without locking front and rear differentials, is a 2WD in low traction situations. A 4WD truck with a locking rear but without locking front differential, is a 3WD in low traction situations.
  • Manual Locking front hubs. Automatic locking front hubs have a bit of a delay so you can get stuck before you get'er into 4WD and the front hubs lock up.
  • High volume air compressor/inflation. If you get into a sticky wicket, you may well need to air down the tires
  • Limited slip vs true locking differentials. Most limited slip differentials will not kick in until one wheel on the axle is spinning pretty darn fast. Whether in a 4WD or 2WD, having a switch to lock'er up before the one wheel starts to bury itself, is a big plus.
  • Winch. If you are planning pulling a 6000lb Airstream in places where 4WD may be needed, a big winch up front may be just as useful - 4WD or 2WD.
Given I drive mostly on highways and well maintained gravel roads. I lean toward 2WD with manual locking rear differential and good traction quiet all terrain tires.

(ps I grew up in Florida - we learned that when white stuff starts falling on the road, don't engage the 4WD. Turn South! )
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Old 11-13-2014, 07:32 AM   #20
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Having uneven ground, I use 4WD every time I move our AS or boat around the yard.

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