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Discussion Starter #1
so we had maybe 2 inches of slightly icy snow in NJ on tuesday.

On flat ground with a gentle foot, the car accelerated fine.

However, to test the capability, I stopped in the middle of a fairly steep hill, that had not been plowed.

Car:
2000 E430 4 matic sedan
235/45/17 Yokohama Avid H4s high performance all seasons with 90% tread
stock drivetrain
placed in "W" mode

Scenario:

2 inches of snow/ice, with some ice rain falling
hill with approximately 30% incline
I stopped car halfway up.

Result:

traction control light started flashing immediately and the eps would drastically cut power to the point of losing all momentum.

The rearend would slide to the right (consistent with road crown) until the tc cut the power.

The car finally inched up the hill at a few mph.


It felt as if the car was RWD. Given how purely mechanical the 4matic system is (no real clutches to wear out), im surprised at this. I expected much better from this fancy awd system. Im not even sure the front wheels are getting power. I know its an electronic awd setup that brakes the slipping wheel, but man, it just feels like a rwd car.

fwiw, my 5 speed Audi a4 with quattro was simply a beast in snow with all seasons, and no traction control.
 

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sorry to hear that, i thought 4matics were pretty good in snow even without winter tires. maybe is related to the tires.
my rwd with summer or all season tires cannot even get up a 10 degree hill if it's icy, but with snow tires (blizzaks) i never had a problem. i actually pass 4matics and quattros all the time during snow storms with more than 2 inches of snow, never had a problem.
 

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From a Canadian who drives in the snow for close to half the year here is your reason -

"235/45/17 Yokohama Avid H4s high performance all seasons with 90% tread"

There is simply a MASSIVE difference between the performance of an all-season tire to a true snow tire (with mountain/snowflake symbol). A heavy car like ours is going to slide on an inclined surface unless the tires can provide proper grip, which yours didn't. I don't think being "full AWD" is going to help as the wheels have to overcome the loss of friction and gravity (no upwards momentum).

Like you said, on the flat road - no problem. The wheels had enough grip to provide adequate friction. On the incline - you just found their breaking point.

I would bet if you did the same test with winter tires, you would see better results.

All-seasons work well in heavy rain and slushy roads, but when there is snow - their performance tanks. They don't have the sipes and channels that winter tires do to channel away melting snow and slush and keep the rubber surface of the tire in proper contact with the road. They get clogged with snow/slush and their ability to grip goes down fast. The rubber in snow tires also retains its malleablility in cold temperatures, whereas all-seasons harden up at the same temperatures. This further reduces the overall viable contact surface area.

All in my non-physics PhD opinion. :D
 

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I've found it doesn't matter a huge amount how much snow is on the roads, it's the consistency and the ambient air temp. Just a bit of snow/slush with a slightly above zero air temp can be deadly. Especially if some fresh snow is still falling and the snow is heavy. This tends to produce really slippery snow.

When it is colder, and the roads are hard, you get better traction even with more snow. The snow tends to pack. But then you can get ice issues.

So it seems to really depend on the conditions. In any case, the snow tires will help dramatically!
 

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AWD doesn't overcome the laws of physics. 2 x 0 =, 4 x 0 = 0.

i spent the last 2 snow seasons in Chicago in RWD vehicle. snow tires are your friends.
 

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M/S

tires or snow tires,and turn off the esp keep your speed below 25 and it won't kick in.Used a friends 4matic with snows up in the passes this winter ,no problems.
from your manual
Note:
In winter operation, the maximum effectiveness of the
4MATIC is only achieved with Mercedes-Benz
recommended M+S rated radial-ply tires and/or snow
chains.
those all seasons just are not hackin it.
:bowdown:eek:hlord
 

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Let's see -- you stopped on the side of a steep hill covered in snow and ice and when you tried to continue a light flashed and the tailend moved a little. What did you expect? You're lucky the car didn't break free and slide back down the hill hitting something or someone!
 

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last I took mine out in the snow just to see what it could do. There are no steep hills where I lived so i just went on an unplowed road. The traction control light only flashes if i floored it other than that it was just a normal drive.
 

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You need to understand how MB traction control works. It applies the brake to spinning wheel. Don't know your model, but on our 99 ML it takes good second for the computer to react. A second in situation is long time, so don't take the system for idiot-proof. That is the situation when locked differentials win hands down.
Now what happens when braking one slipping wheel doesn't help? The computer applies brake to the next spinning wheel and so on, till it reach the point when with 3 wheels slowed down, the 4-th is still spinning. At this moment the computer kills the throttle.
So from the description the main problem Oliver had was his lead foot.
 

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FWIW

I have lived in snow country (Upstate NY where we average 150" of snow per season) now for 17 years, though I grew up outside of DC in the MD burbs.

The overall WORST driving conditions are those you described, snow and ice with changing temperatures (either going up from freezing or down to freezing.) And or blowing light snow across recently freezing roads (don't ask....)

6" of deep powder actually has better traction than 1-2 inches of crap.

I just made a harrowing trip under conditions you just described. This winter has been one bad driving experience after another. One on January 17th in DC where they got a little over 2" of wet snow. Even my hubby's Audi A-4 Quattro with 4 SNOWS could not hold on a hill outside of Middleburg. I slid half-way down and finally came to a stop in the wrong lane facing a four car pile up in front of me. Many, many cars off the road. Took 2 1/2hrs to get to Potomac from there. (should have been maybe 1 hr)


No car, nor tires are designed to handle these conditions well. All we can ask is better than average and choose to be very cautious.

Having driven my new MB in some tough conditions recently, I have also decided to invest in snows.

Good luck to you and hope your winter is kind! :)

Cyndi
 

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i feel more stable in my 4matic then i did in my Land rover disco II....

the thing is AMAZING in snow....M+S tires makes ALL the difference....:bowdown:
 

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I agree, it is all about your tires. I'm sure they would have gotten you up the incline just fine if you hadn't decided to stop in the middle of it and ask your 4000 lb car to overcome the laws of physics. Our 4Matic with 4 winter tires is amazing in the snow. You weren't just dealing with snow, but snow and ice at the same time.

For what it is worth, I've always found a lighter snowfall to be much more slippery than a heavy snowfall. Someone who understands physics better than me can probably explain why.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I acknowledge that it wouldn't have been an issue had I not stopped, but I like to at least see the capabilities at work.

I went up that hill again last night in the dry, and it is noticeably slanted to right, so im sure that didn't help either.

I guess I was asking a bit too much for the all seasons. I guess It did get me home, so I can't complain too much.
 

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I am in love with my 4matic. I love hugging the hilly roads of central Mass in snowy weather. I go out on purpose :) The car rolls forward like a tank! Never had an issue with it. ESP limits power distribution at cases though but it never leaves you stranded.:notworthy: PS I have Continental ContiTouring all-weather tires
 

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After re-reading my post, I want to clarify one thing (I thought was implicit but now I see was not so clear. :eek:)

I think the MB and my 4-matic does very, very well in snowy conditions. (See my thread under Grueling maiden voyage ;) )

That said, I have seen WAAAAYYYY too many people in vehicles of all sorts (and an inordinately high number of them SUVs with snows etc) in ditches under the driving conditions mentioned here today.

Snows or no snows, nothing short of studs or chains will drive straight true and stop on a dime in icy and black-ice conditions. Far too many of our friends have hit trees and telephone poles trying to turn in very icy conditions at slow speeds (literally 20pmh :eek:), let alone trying to stop at higher speeds.

MB's great strength in these conditions, as several others have said, and I can attest to, is her handling WHEN your vehicle needs to respond and steer under adverse conditions.

IMHO, I don't expect ANY car (even my MB, God love her :p) to respond like she were on dry roads, even with snow tires.

I try to look on the bright side though, the more the white stuff flies, the faster my flat boards go when I get to the ski hill IN my MB :thumbsup:.

Have a good one,
Cyndi
 

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Scenario:

2 inches of snow/ice, with some ice rain falling
hill with approximately 30% incline
I stopped car halfway up.
Hmmm, snow and ice, "lubricated" with ice rain . . . I'm guessing that's equivalent to a coefficient of friction of nearly zero. If there is zero friction, even a twelve-wheel drive vehicle with locking differentials wouldn't make it up the hill.

Complaining about the poor performance of an all-wheel-drive powertrain using all-season tires under such snowy and icey conditions on an incline is kind of like complaining about the poor performance of anti-lock brakes on a using bald tires on a road with four inches of standing water.

I think just about any all-wheel-drive system would have given similar results under the conditions you attempted.

As many others have noted, the secret to snow and ice traction is to use good winter tires. In severe winter conditions, I would personally choose a good front-wheel-drive car fitted with winter tires over an all-wheel-drive vehicle with all-season tires, if I were forced to choose one vehicle to 'make it'.

I'm a big believer in using 'high performance' tires; i.e. using those tires which give the best traction in whatever the operational environment is. That means obtaining the best traction in winter by using winter tires, and in summer using summer tires.

Cheers from Canada.

Tim
 

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snow tires....

as mentioned only true snow tires will give the best traction..... also, 4-matic has a distribution of 65% rear, 35% front. that allows for better handling on dry/wet roads with the characteristics of a rear wheel vehicle. That is why the rear end will break free for a second on ice.... When put into 'W' mode, the transmission starts in 3rd gear instead of first, assumingly to provide better traction initially. ( confuses me quite a bit, but they did the research..) All season tires are a compromise and should not be relied on for traction in winter conditions, or heavy rain also! My '99' E-320 is magic with quality snows, I call it "Tank Mode"...... Get rid of the all seasons and go to dedicated snows on rims for 2 months in winter and true touring road tires the rest of the year. you will like the change to a summer road tire that is not an all season. Good luck, I bought rims and snows off ebay initially, just make sure from similar vehicle, or TireRack.com has steel wheels.
 
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