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Driving on gravel roads, use 2wd or 4wd ?

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#11 PackRat


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Posted 17 May 2018 - 06:31 PM

Hmm...if you are on a familiar road and you know it has no washouts or muddy sections or creeks of an as-yet undetermined depth of water I suppose you can go with 2WD as outlined above. If you are going 25-35 MPH on known roads, sure, why not?


However...if you are in uncharted territory and you are on a less than stellar road surface, maybe some ruts, muddy sections, water crossing or pooling on the surface and it has some ups and downs you expect ahead according to you map....and you don't feel comfortable doing 35 MPH on it....you may choose to chug along at 25 MPH and I see no reason under the circumstances to NOT use the 4WD because those are the very conditions it was designed to help give you traction on.


Then there is the snow factor...which may hide some of the obstacles I mentioned above....that sounds like you need to proceed with caution anyway unless you really do KNOW the road well! In that event, the 4WD will be a good idea as well since you won't be going 45 MPH there either. 


The toss-up I think is also affected by how your rig is loaded....heavy on the rear axle? Near the GVWR for the truck? I agree that 4WD may give some people a false sense of security, but you have to use some degree of common sense in any situation based on your truck, the load and the road.


Always better to err on the side of good judgement and SLOW DOWN to begin with and using 4WD is beneficial (read your truck owners manual about it) and when all else fails, time to chain up!

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#12 klahanie


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Posted 18 May 2018 - 12:09 AM

Thx PR.


Just to clarify some pics of the type of road I'm referring to. These might be main lines originally for log hauling or a haul road to a shuttered mine or an active power facility or even a country road. Typically recently maintained, wide, reasonable sight lines, present but infrequent other traffic etc. I know they don't require 4wd because they are often linked to small communities and have seen locals drive them in 2wd cars and vans - prob in all kinds of weather...


But I mean driving in good, dry, warm weather.












ON EDIT: I get it that these a good roads, we've all driven worse. Was just wondering if there was any compelling reason to be driving these, as described, in 4wd if it was available. With the exception of 12valve, it seems most would usually be using 2wd, at least part time.

Edited by klahanie, 18 May 2018 - 12:18 AM.

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#13 ntsqd


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Posted 18 May 2018 - 02:11 AM

Roads like those I'd be in 2WD. Where I make the transition to 4WD depends on a lot of things, not the least of which is my mood. When doing the 40 part of a 4-40 road and its washboard our CTD prefers 4WD, but both my old '84 Xcab yota and our current '88 4rnnr prefer 2wd.

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Where does that road go?

#14 slash2


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Posted 18 May 2018 - 04:28 PM

My Dad once told me "it takes 4wd to get really stuck" so as a young man I often got really stuck, I figured if you didn't get stuck once in awhile you weren't trying hard enough.


After I "grew up" I would only use 4wd after 2wd was no longer cutting it, then switch back to 2wd as conditions improved.


Now, as an old guy, if the road is level and smooth I leave it it in 2wd, but if it starts to get any washboard I'll air down and switch to 4x4, I feel it improves the ride and I've heard that it helps to keep the washboard from getting worst. If there is loose sand or gravel, steep inclines or just about any condition much beyond smooth and flat I'll just leave it 4wd, I mean why not? It doesn't hurt the car, and I'll never drive enough miles in 4x4 where I'd be concerned about causing premature wear on the drive train, maybe a little worst gas mileage, but come on, a small price to pay for the added control should something jump up and surprise you.



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#15 cwdtmmrs


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Posted 18 May 2018 - 04:51 PM

I do not want to derail this thread, but I've never seen a good explanation of what actually causes "washboard". I've heard tire slip, wheel hop, wind, water and gremlins, but nothing explains (to me) the almost perfectly spaced ridges that go completely across the road for such long stretches,sometimes for miles.


Edited by cwdtmmrs, 18 May 2018 - 04:52 PM.

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#16 Vic Harder

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 05:15 PM

2wd on those kinds of roads.  Engage 4x4 to lube all the 4x4 parts occasionally. 

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#17 rando


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Posted 18 May 2018 - 06:04 PM

Washboard is caused by the 'skipping' of tires over the road surface in combination with a granular road bed that can be pushed around by tires:


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#18 DavidGraves


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Posted 18 May 2018 - 06:58 PM

The regularity of washboard is because of the regular and equal energy of the tire, shock and vehicle impact then rebound to and from the maleable surface.


Semi trucks sometimes form "washboard" on asphalt where an initial fault in the road bed is echoed afterwards. 


The best vehicle for washboard is a beat 63 Caddy ....let er rip !


One can actally acheive a "float" effect where the vehicle stabilizes and the suspension takes all the action.


I think the very best washboard vehicle ever mass produced is the Citroen 2CV......huge long suspension travel   designed for coblestone roads and streets.


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#19 cwdtmmrs


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Posted 18 May 2018 - 07:30 PM

Washboard is caused by the 'skipping' of tires over the road surface in combination with a granular road bed that can be pushed around by tires:

Interesting. How come it is usually seen across the entire roadway? Is it because driver's are always moving over a notch to avoid the ruts that are already there and creating new ones?
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#20 DavidGraves


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Posted 18 May 2018 - 07:56 PM

I think so....that is what I do.


Klahanie...sorry we stole the thread....washboard isn't allowed in the great north, is it ?  :D


David Graves



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