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Old 11-24-2008, 07:26 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Four wheel drive question!

I'll start off with I grew up in the northeast (Upstate New York) so I've driven in snow before. However, I've lived the last 16 years in Southern California or Arizona. I bought my FJ this summer wanting a four wheel drive for this winter, I now live in Vermont.

Last Friday we got 3 inches of wet snow, on my way home from work I put the FJ in 4 Hi and headed out. On 3 separate instances the FJ lost traction and spun in a 180 and put me in the ditch on the opposite side of the road, i was traveling at about 30 to 35 MPH. I easily pulled out of the ditches and was able to turn around and continue on safely, but to say I was rattled is an understatement. I still have the stock highway tires that come on the FJ from the factory but that shouldn't cause the FJ to loose traction that bad in 4 Hi.

I drive a Chevy Tahoe at work and just use the Auto 4X4 and have absolutely no problems, why was my FJ skidding out of control like it was.

Anyone from a cold snowy climate please help, I'm planning on getting new tires as soon as the budget allows, but we're forecasted to get snow soon.
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Old 11-24-2008, 07:36 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Four wheel drive question!

Well, like you said, new tires will help imensely, but for 3" of snow I would leave it in 2WD. The thing with 4WD is that now you have power to all four wheels which puts you in a posittion to not only spin your back wheels, but your front wheels as well. Just like a limited slip rear end in the rain. Much easier to spin out than an open differential is, but when it's dry the limited slip will give you better traction. Your Tahoe has a automatic sensing all wheel drive system that works just like the FJ does in 2WD. When it senses wheel slippage, it applies the brakes to that wheel to gain traction and does so continually to all four wheels. The FJ has this feature in the A-TRAC, but is designed to be used off-road in 4L. Put it this way, the Tahoes 4WD traction control is meant for the street, the FJ's is for off-road.

My advice, other than a nice set of all terrain tires, is keep it in 2WD until the snow gets really deep. That way you have the benefit of the TRAC working for you. Oh....and lay off the skinny pedal a bit

And welcome to the forum!
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Old 11-24-2008, 07:47 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Four wheel drive question!

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Well, like you said, new tires will help imensely, but for 3" of snow I would leave it in 2WD. The thing with 4WD is that now you have power to all four wheels which puts you in a posittion to not only spin your back wheels, but your front wheels as well. Just like a limited slip rear end in the rain. Much easier to spin out than an open differential is, but when it's dry the limited slip will give you better traction. Your Tahoe has a automatic sensing all wheel drive system that works just like the FJ does in 2WD. When it senses wheel slippage, it applies the brakes to that wheel to gain traction and does so continually to all four wheels. The FJ has this feature in the A-TRAC, but is designed to be used off-road in 4L. Put it this way, the Tahoes 4WD traction control is meant for the street, the FJ's is for off-road.

My advice, other than a nice set of all terrain tires, is keep it in 2WD until the snow gets really deep. That way you have the benefit of the TRAC working for you. Oh....and lay off the skinny pedal a bit

And welcome to the forum!
This explanation doesn't sound right to me. There must be something else not being considered here... Being in 4WD should not by itself have been a detriment to driving in snow as you suggest.

It would be a problem if ATRAC or the rear locker were engaged while driving in the white stuff as you suggest, but we don't know if this was the case.
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Old 11-24-2008, 07:55 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Four wheel drive question!

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This explanation doesn't sound right to me. There must be something else not being considered here... Being in 4WD should not by itself have been a detriment to driving in snow as you suggest.

It would be a problem if ATRAC or the rear locker were engaged while driving in the white stuff as you suggest, but we don't know if this was the case.
A-TRAC and the RR Locker only work in 4Lo, and TRAC is disabled in 4Hi. Keep it in 2WD and you'll be fine.
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Old 11-24-2008, 08:04 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Four wheel drive question!

You also lose your VSC when in any 4WD mode. Here's some FJ 101 for ya

http://www.fjcruiserforums.com/forum...diff-lock.html
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Old 11-24-2008, 08:22 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Four wheel drive question!

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A-TRAC and the RR Locker only work in 4Lo, and TRAC is disabled in 4Hi. Keep it in 2WD and you'll be fine.
Yes, I know that about ATRAC and the Rear Locker, but TRAC should still work in 4Hi for the auto tranny (not VSC)... With the 6MT, I'm in 4WD full-time and I drive in the snow a lot. I don't have problems spinning out. Why do you think that 4WD is disadvantageous in the snow?

The only detriment that I see with 4WD is over-confidence. Yes, folks can generally get around better with it, but when it comes to stopping, there's no advantage.

Last edited by Crotalus; 11-24-2008 at 08:25 AM.
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Old 11-24-2008, 08:50 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Four wheel drive question!

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You also lose your VSC when in any 4WD mode. Here's some FJ 101 for ya

http://www.fjcruiserforums.com/forum...diff-lock.html
I appreciate the link, but are you saying that I have to use 4 Lo when it snows? I love my FJ but that is frustrating.
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Old 11-24-2008, 08:53 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Four wheel drive question!

No you do should not be in 4 low while driving city streets. 4 low is great when you need extra torque extreme towing situations and/or steep climbs.

To spin out 3 times in 3inches of snow makes me think you need to slow down. 4WD gives a lot of people a false sense of security. Slow it down and concentrate on smaller steering wheel and throttle inputs.

Most important slow down.
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Old 11-24-2008, 08:58 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Four wheel drive question!

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Crotalus previously said: View Post
Yes, I know that about ATRAC and the Rear Locker, but TRAC should still work in 4Hi for the auto tranny (not VSC)... With the 6MT, I'm in 4WD full-time and I drive in the snow a lot. I don't have problems spinning out. Why do you think that 4WD is disadvantageous in the snow?

The only detriment that I see with 4WD is over-confidence. Yes, folks can generally get around better with it, but when it comes to stopping, there's no advantage.
I have the 5 speed automatic transmission, I too thought that ATRAC would work in 4 Hi. I love my FJ I've taken it places in Arizona that no other 4x4 wanted to go, including a few ATV trails.

Overconfidence was not the problem I was doing 30 to 35 MPH on state highway. On one stretch of strait road I suddenly lost traction and spun around and ended in a ditch. That rattled me. I've called the local Toyota dealership, and their at a loss also.
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Old 11-24-2008, 09:03 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Four wheel drive question!

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I have the 5 speed automatic transmission, I too thought that ATRAC would work in 4 Hi. I love my FJ I've taken it places in Arizona that no other 4x4 wanted to go, including a few ATV trails.

Overconfidence was not the problem I was doing 30 to 35 MPH on state highway. On one stretch of strait road I suddenly lost traction and spun around and ended in a ditch. That rattled me. I've called the local Toyota dealership, and their at a loss also.
I know that it's very confusing, but ATRAC is not the same as TRAC. You don't want ATRAC to be functioning when you are driving at speed on slippery surfaces. It sends more power to the wheels that have traction and brakes the wheels that are spinning - kind of like a virtual "locker" using the ABS...

Last edited by Crotalus; 11-24-2008 at 09:17 AM.
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