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Old 03-04-2018, 02:43 PM   #21
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Winter tires worked surprisingly well on our front wheel drive Toyota sienna, but they wear fast in warm weather and I grew tired of the local garage mechanics breaking the threads on the studs from over tightening the nuts with air wrenches. So as a system I prefer all season radials with awd over winter tires that I have to swap outseasonally, not to mention that I won't get surprised in May with awd.

REV, sorry I wasn't clear, I was comparing a rwd Sprinter to a fwd Promaster. Granted that I didn't look at the Promaster's tires, they may have been worn which would make it an unfair comparison. But I suspect that a 4wd van would have been noticably better than either, my awd Element and my awd Lexus are both significantly better than either with all season tires, they are both more similar to my fwd Sienna with all season tires than different.

So for me on snow and sand, a 4wd remains interesting, no tire swapping required. The extra inches would help even in town over curbs and parking lot entrances and exits. I did get fitted cables for the snowy drive from PA to CO this Jan, but haven't tried them. It we get another decent snow this season I'll try them out for another data point.
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Old 03-04-2018, 03:30 PM   #22
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Thanks for sharing that, Davydd!

FWIW, we have had a 4WD F350 for twenty years and 200K miles. I have always felt like it would get me where I wanted to go under any kind of condition. Last year, we test drove a Roadtrek Sprinter 4WD. It made me nervous. Guess I would get used to it, but the CG is so high and the suspension is much softer than our truck that I felt uncomfortable going around curves. I've never seen one laying on its side so I'm sure they are perfectly safe.
Advanced RV made that video because customers were very much interested in 4WD and they wanted to be upfront with the capabilities. Most of their vans, as mentioned in the video, also have VB Air Suspension and they determined it was compatible. I think clearance is the primary goal of 4WD owners or ought to be. There is a definite advantage especially on departure angle. I've bottomed out numerous times with an extended body Sprinter on roads with drainage troughs at driveway entrances and once at an access ramp to a ferry. That's why I have a substantial skid plate.
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Old 03-04-2018, 04:31 PM   #23
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...I think clearance is the primary goal of 4WD owners or ought to be. There is a definite advantage especially on departure angle. I've bottomed out numerous times with an extended body Sprinter on roads with drainage troughs at driveway entrances and once at an access ramp to a ferry. That's why I have a substantial skid plate.
Our Transit has a substantial overhang, as well, and I fully expect to bottom out sometime in the near future. Some people are installing little metal wheels on the hitch - did you find a skid plate to be superior?
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Old 03-04-2018, 04:47 PM   #24
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Our Transit has a substantial overhang, as well, and I fully expect to bottom out sometime in the near future. Some people are installing little metal wheels on the hitch - did you find a skid plate to be superior?
Our skid plate protects our batteries even though they are inclosed in a steel cage. The skid plate is substantial. I know people have installed wheels on an Advanced RV skid plate but I don't understand is that the wheels just reduce the clearance all the more. I would think wheels would protect bumpers and other things like electrical tow hookups.

Our skid plate mounted on steel braces protects the insulated battery box which has further steel protection. It also protects our three underfloor storage boxes behind the batteries. The skid plate is thick aluminum. And the skid plate lowers the clearance all the more but I think it is still 7-1/2".

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Old 03-04-2018, 04:49 PM   #25
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Advanced RV made that video because customers were very much interested in 4WD and they wanted to be upfront with the capabilities. Most of their vans, as mentioned in the video, also have VB Air Suspension and they determined it was compatible. I think clearance is the primary goal of 4WD owners or ought to be. There is a definite advantage especially on departure angle. I've bottomed out numerous times with an extended body Sprinter on roads with drainage troughs at driveway entrances and once at an access ramp to a ferry. That's why I have a substantial skid plate.
May I ask - is the skid plate you have at the front?

and - make and model?

are you happy with it?

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Old 03-04-2018, 05:10 PM   #26
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May I ask - is the skid plate you have at the front?

and - make and model?

are you happy with it?

John
I don't have a front skid plate. The front overhang does not change regardless of the length of the van. There have been many Advanced RV's with protective bull bars of all types from off the shelf to customization. You can see the many times on their website gallery page. I don't have one.
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Old 03-04-2018, 07:32 PM   #27
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This is Advanced RV's video when they took in their first 4x4 Sprinters back in April, 2015. I believe they were the first to adapt them to Class B Sprinter RVs. They tested in two conditions, a newly melted snow field and in a Maple forest woods. They pretty much knew the results because I was in those same field maple sugaring and knew. It is interesting.



This is the WWII surplus jeep that pulled the van out. That's me and my wife. ARV puts its customer to work maple sugaring.

A very informative video from Advanced-RV. Thanks for posting it. My take-away is that the addition of 4X4 adds ground clearance, some noticeable and perhaps important amount of drive traction, and low and high gearing for more controllable steep climbs and descents. I know that as we seek a Class B van 4X4 is non-negotiable. Most of our travel will be out west where total vehicle height is less of an issue and obviously steep roads with snow are commonplace.

No surprise, it seems almost everyone agrees that 4X4 Sprinter Vans are not going to be appropriate for serious offloading and that is not our desire either. But we do need the ability get to remote trailheads in California, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, etc. Mainly what I have heard some call soft-roading up and down fire roads, forest service roads and two track "roads". I appreciate that for probably 80% of what we will be dong two wheel drive would be sufficient. But I know from past experience that there have been 20% of our trips and adventures where had we not had all an all-wheel drive vehicle we have been seriously stuck Ė sand in Michigan, steep rutted roads in Canyon Landís, snow in Connecticut. Two-wheel drive would have never been sufficient so having 4X4 for us is safety and security. Said another way, Rubicon trail never, ever, ever. White Rim Trail - maybe?

Of course as most know, with the exception of expensive custom, 4X4 short Sprinter options are extremely limited and that is my frustration - covered in a recent post of mine asking why the MAJOR class B manufacturers are so out of touch and behind in the U.S. market.
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Old 03-04-2018, 07:45 PM   #28
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Also remember that any vehicle with dual rear wheels is going to get stuck much more easily than a single rear wheel version, so that may want to be taken into account. In any style, a lockable rear axle will do as much, or more than 4 wheel drive in the slippery stuff.
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Old 03-04-2018, 08:14 PM   #29
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Winter tires worked surprisingly well on our front wheel drive Toyota sienna, but they wear fast in warm weather and I grew tired of the local garage mechanics breaking the threads on the studs from over tightening the nuts with air wrenches.
I'm sure that snow tires will still wear faster than all season tires but in recent years they have modified them with a different tread compound that mitigates the warm weather wear issue. Bridgestone did this when they went from their 70 series Blizzak to their 80 series. It's tricky. You want the rubber to be relatively soft at freezing and below temperatures without wearing like competition Pirellis during the summer. The improvements also reportedly cut down on their noise on dry roads.

The advantages of snow tires in snow are well understood. What is less appreciated is another factor which is temperature. All season tires go through an unavoidable compound transition with tread hardening at temperatures typically less than 7C. So even on dry roads, at freezing or below temperatures, snow tires with their softer compound provide an advantage.

I don't know how to totally protect yourself from local ham fisted mechanics. I know that at Costco their shops go through a daily routine of checking and calibrating their air wrenches to avoid this.
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Old 03-04-2018, 08:21 PM   #30
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Also remember that any vehicle with dual rear wheels is going to get stuck much more easily than a single rear wheel version, so that may want to be taken into account. In any style, a lockable rear axle will do as much, or more than 4 wheel drive in the slippery stuff.
Can you enlarge on he dynamics that make duals more prone to getting stuck than singles?

I had a Tacoma with a locking rear axle that worked well but it could provoke rear end slewing without careful attention to throttle.
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