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all wheel drive vs. rear wheel drive

Discussion in 'Warranty questions' started by smack, Apr 4, 2010.

    smack guest

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    Hello, my name is Mike and I have a few questions to ask. First off I will be buying a new 2011 E91 Touring. I am a mechanic in the Air force and am confident in doing my own repairs. I have an 07 E90 335i and will be getting the touring for the wife. I know it is mandatory to run snow tires on BMW's as I was stationed in Germany with mine however I want to know if the all wheel drive is worth having compared to a rear wheel drive with snows. Since I am military I could be moved all around the world so I would need something that wont have problems when the snow gets real deep. I know the maintenance will be more in depth with all wheel drive and want to avoid that if at all possible.
    Thanks,

    ForcedInduction guest

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    The AWD is very desirable for many people in wet or snow. Some purist don't believe in AWD but I personally would not be without AWD if I have a choice. The maintenance may or may not be any higher but the fun factor and traction are indisputable..
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    az3579

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    It depends...

    If you plan on modifying your car in any kind of performance aspect, with regards to lowering or suspension stuff, get a RWD car.

    If it's just a daily driver and will be mostly untouched, go AWD.

    AWD Bimmers appear to be unstoppable in the snow. I've been in one going uphill on nearly bald all-seasons with snow covering the hill unplowed and it just blasted right through it!

    tkundhi guest

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    If it makes your wife more comfortable then sure get AWD. But you don't need it. She'll get around fine with RWD & proper snow tires until the snow is too high and the car starts pushing it with the front spoiler. Then you'll end up high centering the car. AWD won't help in that situation.

    As a point of reference we live in Nebraska and my wife drives an E46 touring.

    t.

    91 M3 2.5 koalapower
    92 325 M-Tech
    98 M3 sedan
    00 323i touring
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    bcweir

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    Purists against AWD? Where?

    So-called purists who are against BMW selling all-wheel-drive cars are ignoring history as well as the needs of those who live in more predominantly snowy climates -- a not insignificant number of BMW enthusiasts.

    BMW has offered all-wheel-drive in the 3-series since the 1986 model year. I would think so-called purists have adjusted to the idea of an all-wheel-drive BMW by now, especially since it's an option offered in nearly every model today. Even the flagship 7-series is now offered with it.

    ForcedInduction guest

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    All you need to do is go to any BMW forum and read the arguments pro and con on RWD vs. AWD to see that many purists have not "adjusted" to the idea of AWD yet. It makes for humorus entertainment until it gets personal. ;)
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    az3579

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    That's because you dont' technically "need" it for snow. :D
    It's funny how so many of my co-workers thing I'm insane for saying that. They think I have a screw loose because I say I'm perfectly fine with RWD and good tires! Makes for a very entertaining debate...

    ForcedInduction guest

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    "Need" is a matter of opinion. ;)

    While I agree you can move most vehicles in most cases with RWD or even FWD in snow that isn't the point of the OP's question. I have driven a variety of the different drive designs and in my experience AWD is by far the most capable and fun to drive in all weather conditions including dry HPDE events. Technically you don't need snow tires unless mandated by law, but they make a Helleva improvement in traction for accelerating, turning and stopping over Summer and All-Season tires in snow, which makes driving safer and more fun.

    People can chose whatever makes them happy. In most serious snow areas four snow tires and AWD or chains are mandatory - for a very good reason - traction.
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    bcweir

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    Actually you make more sense than you or your coworkers realize.

    In the early days of BMW's AWD offerings, as would buyers having to make the choice between other types of 2WD and 4WD vehicles (keep in mind there's a difference between part-time 4WD and the newer automatic systems being offered now), opting for 4WD almost always incurred a noticeable mileage penalty over strictly RWD vehicles.

    Nowadays, between BMW's highly efficient gas and diesel engines, and their much more advanced all wheel drive systems, this is much less of an issue. This tends to be a fully automatic system, engaging and biasing front and rear traction on only an as-needed basis, both conserving fuel and performing much more effectively than either a part time system or a permanently, constantly engaged all wheel drive system.

    One more little bit of anecdotal evidence on how useful even BMW's older AWD cars are: it should be conspicuous by their absence how hard it is to find a USED AWD BMW that doesn't need serious rehab to either its forward differential or to the transmission. These cars tend to rank very high on the "keeper" list for those owners that keep these vehicles properly maintained. For the most part, owners of even very old AWD vehicles tend to be reluctant to let go of them, and it's not hard to understand why.

    My personal preference is to stick with good old RWD. Here in north Texas, we get heavy snow only on extremely rare circumstances. AWD would not likely have as consistent an advantage over a RWD vehicle driven appropriately under the weather conditions for most of the year. But for those who find AWD indispensable, more power to you.

    BIMMIR guest

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    Someone said need is a matter of opinion. That is the best advice. Given that reality, the opinion you need to listen to is from your wife. The opinions of anyone else is irrelevant.
    Rear wheel drive is probably acceptable in most situations, for you or I, and perhaps her. You need to ask yourself, and her, the reality of what she is comfortable with. (if you've been at this for awhile, you'll know that she may, or may not tell you directly)
    I have had my wife in front wheel drive, rear wheel drive and part and full time 4 wheel drive over the years. All of these were thought to be great ideas at the time. The car she feels most confident driving is our 328xi. We live in Maine and she has a fairly long commute which is now stress free even in winter because she feels secure behind the wheel due to traction and control. She used to be white knuckled and stressed out driving home, now she is relaxed by her drive. I will always have a BMW x drive. I've always ran all season tires and never felt I needed more. It is a tank in snow as is. I know this doesn't necessarily answer your maint. questions, but long term maint. doesn't matter if I have to trade the car becuase she's not comfortable behind the wheel.

    Good Luck,

    Tim
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    jrj127

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    Last summer, I bought my first BMW: a used 2001 330 Ci w/ sport package. This car is RWD. I bought a second set of wheels and snow tires off Craigslist for cheap. The tires are Bridgestone Blizzak LM-22 and I have been very happy with them. I live north of Boston and am no stranger to snow. Of course, if I step on the accelerator too fast, the rear will slide out. You get "a feel for the girl" and how the car handles with experience.

    Regardless of RWD or AWD, I would recommend pure snow tires over all-season tires if you live in a snowy area. Snow tires provide great grip on unplowed roads, and the DSC gives a little help here and there. All-season tires are not great at either summer or winter driving.

    Another thing to consider is the percent of time you drive on snowy versus dry roads. Even in Boston, the roads are dry 95% of the time in winter. I can attest to the Blizzak LM-22s being fun to drive on these dry roads, albeit not nearly as fun as the summer tires! Snow tires can make sure you have traction to go AND stop.

    My prior cars were a 1986 Chevette (RWD, I used sand bags in the trunk, too) and a 1996 Geo Prizm/Toyota Corolla (FWD). I was worried because I never had a powerful car, or one worth any kind of money :) Because of the 50/50 weight distribution and handling, I felt comfortable very quickly when the first snow came.

    smack guest

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    Thanks for all the input on this subject. I have decided to go with just the rear wheel drive touring for the wife as we currently live in Las Vegas and there is no need for all wheel drive. I plan to stay here for a while before I get moved or decide to move from my current location. I eventually want to move to a northeastern base to experiance the east coast. In the winter months a set of dedicated snow tires will be used for both of our BMW's and besides during the winter months the road will be clear most of the time. If it does get to bad I just wont go anywhere untill the road is passable.

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