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Thread: 2WD vs. 4WD tow vehicle

  1. #1
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    Default 2WD vs. 4WD tow vehicle

    I'm looking at used diesel trucks for a tow vehicle and some friends say get 2WD for the higher towing capacity and lower vehicle weight while other friends say you never know when you'll need to use 4WD. Thoughts on this?
    David Russell
    '80 ITB Volvo 242 under construction
    SCCA member no. 389013

  2. #2
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    My opinion, unless you're going to be using the 4x4 in the snow a lot I don't think it's worth the extra money (and weight, and gas mileage, etc.....)

    In 15+ years of towing a race car I don;t think I've ever needed 4x4.
    Jeff L

    ITA Miata



    2010 NARRC Champion

    2007 NERRC Championship, 2nd place
    2008 NARRC Championship, 2nd place
    2009 NARRC Championship, 2nd place

  3. #3
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    I've needed 4x4 in my tow vehicle once: to pull out an RV stuck in the mud at Pocono.

    I'm with Jeff: unless I'm going to use it year-round I'd skip the extra expense.
    Not my circus...not my monkeys...

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the feedback. Confirms my hunch. Now to find THE deal.
    David Russell
    '80 ITB Volvo 242 under construction
    SCCA member no. 389013

  5. #5
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    Depends a bit where you live and plan to tow... But 90 something percent of us won't need 4x4 while towing as long as we are smart about it LOL

    I have a hilly yard I have to turn around in, but as long as I'm smart and gentle about it I don't need to engage my 4x4.

    Try to find something with a limited slip/ posi / locking rearend if you are at all concerned.


    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Amy View Post
    I've needed 4x4 in my tow vehicle once: to pull out an RV stuck in the mud at Pocono.

    I'm with Jeff: unless I'm going to use it year-round I'd skip the extra expense.
    THAT was awesome by the way!!!! And Greg is (for once ) being way too modest! It wasn't just any RV, it was a fracking BUS and the trailer was still hooked to the RV!!! 4WD Powerstroke Excursion FTW!
    Chris Rallo "the kid"
    -- "wrenching and racing" -- "will race for food!" -- "Onward and Upward"

    Independent Motorsports Group: Cars * Competition * Camaraderie

  6. #6
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    I've "never needed" 4wd in my truck, but my yard gets pretty soggy in the rainy season and I've made the mistake of trying to turn the truck & trailer around in the yard before, getting it stuck in the mud.

    I wound up having to wait until the wife got home and we used her Honda Element to pull my 7.3 and 24' enclosed out of the mud! That was 6 months ago and there are still ruts in the yard.

    Anyway, if the truck is only going to be used for towing, I agree- 4wd is overkill. less gas mileage, more parts to break, etc etc.
    If you're going to be using the truck for other stuff too, then the decision should weigh more on that. since 95% of the reason I bought my truck is to tow the race car and I live on flat land, there's no need for 4wd. I just need to pay attention and make sure I don't get off my gravel drive and stick it in the mud again.
    Houston Region
    STU Nissan 240SX
    EProd RX7

  7. #7
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    With a diesel P/U, I think 4WD is important for muddy paddocks-it is especially nose heavy.

    I wouldn't spring for one w/o 4WD.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeg View Post
    With a diesel P/U, I think 4WD is important for muddy paddocks-it is especially nose heavy.
    I haven't been to a track yet that I needed to park in the mud.
    Maybe it's different in Algeria though.
    Houston Region
    STU Nissan 240SX
    EProd RX7

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt93SE View Post
    I haven't been to a track yet that I needed to park in the mud.
    Maybe it's different in Algeria though.

    Chris Rallo "the kid"
    -- "wrenching and racing" -- "will race for food!" -- "Onward and Upward"

    Independent Motorsports Group: Cars * Competition * Camaraderie

  10. #10
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    I'm one of those "if it ain't a 4X4, it ain't a real truck" people; but then I do use my truck for way more than just towing; like getting around in the snow, or getting to the top of mountains on dirt trails maybe 2' wider than the truck. So, my perspective may be a little skewed.

    I will say, I have had to use 4WD once or twice in the paddock at Summit - back in the grassy areas in the woods, or back near working camping it can get pretty slick after a rain. But in general if I were buying a truck only for towing I probably wouldn't worry about 4WD. I would just avoid those areas where I might get stuck.
    Earl R.
    240SX
    ITA/ST5

  11. #11
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    yea, it's all about where you live.

    I was never a 4wd guy, thought it was a waste. "Man up and get some snow tires, throw some sand in the bed, disconnect the rear sway bar and just drive", LOL

    I must be getting old. This last winter was brutal around here. one 12" storm followed by a 16" storm, record breaking long before it was over, and I needed to get around. Since you can not BUY a 2 wd truck in CT, LOL, my new truck came with 4WD.

    Ummmm....it's errrrrr....GREAT. One late night coming home I was the only guy out on the Merritt parkway. It was DUMPING 2 or 3" per hour. The road was 12"+ deep, unplowed. I won't tell you how fast i was going. But i wasn't crawling, LOL. Sadly a tree was down across the whole road (It was a helluva storm) so I had to turn back and drive the wrong way. Only guy I came across was a cop, who had chains on and was struggling with those.

    On I-95, cars were abandoned in the middle of the road...jeeps even!

    So, yea, I'm a believer.

    But I can not remember ever engaging 4WD in that truck while the trailers hooked up.

    So, for towing, I'd skip it. But don't drive into slippery paddock areas.
    Jake Gulick


    CarriageHouse Motorsports
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  12. #12
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    If you race @ Nelson, get the 4wd..
    MM
    Mike Ogren , FWDracingguide.com, 352.4288.983 ,http://www.ogren-engineering.com/

  13. #13
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    I live in Houston.
    Snow? What's that? If it does snow here, all of the overpasses are iced over and the highways are closed so you just stay home and watch the idiots on the news.

    Hills? You mean the freeway interchanges? You can see about 25 miles from the top of the big ones.

    Mud? why bother. there's always a paved way to get there since most of this place used to be rice paddy or swamp.
    Houston Region
    STU Nissan 240SX
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt93SE View Post
    I haven't been to a track yet that I needed to park in the mud.
    Maybe it's different in Algeria though.
    Algeria for work only, otherwise Houston is my home base. My car is slowly (unfortunately) getting built at a friends shop in Florida while I'm overseas. Getting my car & parts back to Texas is the reason for the purchase now vs. later.

    The sole purpose, at the moment, for this truck is towing. So no towing in snow & ice storms to get to the track. I've driven I95 around MD, VA & DC in snow & ice and more 4WD vehicles ended up in the ditches than 2WD (unlimited traction mentality due to 4WD). A limited-slip differential is the key along with a cautious and attentive driver based on my experience. I'll be sure to have a limited-slip differential in the tow vehicle.
    David Russell
    '80 ITB Volvo 242 under construction
    SCCA member no. 389013

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by lateapex911 View Post
    yea, it's all about where you live.

    I was never a 4wd guy, thought it was a waste. "Man up and get some snow tires, throw some sand in the bed, disconnect the rear sway bar and just drive", LOL

    I must be getting old. This last winter was brutal around here. one 12" storm followed by a 16" storm, record breaking long before it was over, and I needed to get around. Since you can not BUY a 2 wd truck in CT, LOL, my new truck came with 4WD.

    Ummmm....it's errrrrr....GREAT. One late night coming home I was the only guy out on the Merritt parkway. It was DUMPING 2 or 3" per hour. The road was 12"+ deep, unplowed. I won't tell you how fast i was going. But i wasn't crawling, LOL. Sadly a tree was down across the whole road (It was a helluva storm) so I had to turn back and drive the wrong way. Only guy I came across was a cop, who had chains on and was struggling with those.

    On I-95, cars were abandoned in the middle of the road...jeeps even!

    So, yea, I'm a believer.

    But I can not remember ever engaging 4WD in that truck while the trailers hooked up.

    So, for towing, I'd skip it. But don't drive into slippery paddock areas.
    That is funny to hear that you've come to the dark side Jake!! LOL I always remember you bustin' on 4x4!! I've got one of those jobs that is NOT considered non essential (I work for a hospital) and MUST get to work no matter how much snow. Yup, there was once this past winter I was driving through 28" of snow on unplowed streets........... I was lovin' my 4x4 that morning!!!
    Jeff L

    ITA Miata



    2010 NARRC Champion

    2007 NERRC Championship, 2nd place
    2008 NARRC Championship, 2nd place
    2009 NARRC Championship, 2nd place

  16. #16
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    Little late for a reply, but figured I'd chime in if somebody else comes across this thread.

    I did the 4x4 vs 2x4 research when I got my 2002 F350. Wound up going with a 2x4 as I didn't want to deal with the maintenance that comes with the 4x4s. One thing I didn't know, though, is that the front brakes are different between the 2x4s and 4x4s. All those spiffy performance rotors you see for the F350s are only if you have a 4x4. The rotors on the 2x4s are part of the hub. If you want to replace the rotors you have to replace the whole hub. I've done it. The brakes on the truck I bought had a vibration (turned out one of the calipers had completely frozen slide pins) and I figured it would be an easy task just to swap rotors. Wrong. It wasn't too bad, but swapping a hub is much more than just swapping rotors. I did use new bearings when I did the job so the front end should be good for as long as I own the truck.

    David
    ITA 240SX #17
    Atlanta Region

  17. #17

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    I have been to some tracks where I would have been stuck in the grass paddock if I didn't have 4WD. also in really heavy rain I feel the truck to be more stable and safer in 4WD.
    i would get the 4WD, and it helps with resale.
    Kevin Anderson

  18. #18
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    Aug 2012
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    I really like the 4x4 option - have had it on three tow vehicles now and when you need - you need it! Now being in the Great State of Texas.....I dunnno. I would still opt for it IMHO.
    ez

  19. #19
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    David, it all depends where in the country you're towing in. I have a 1998.5 Dodge 2500 Turbo Diesel, 4x4, club cab, short bed, that I used to use to go skiing, and drove it in the snow. We don't ski anymore, so the 4x4 is just a waste of fuel now. Drove from the SF Bay Area to Seattle for the SCCA Major over the Memorial Day weekend, and got about 12 mpg towing an empty 24' enclosed trailer to Portland, picked up my rental Wabbit, and then went on to Seattle. I wish I had a 2wd dually now.
    Tim Linerud
    San Francisco Region SCCA
    #95 GTL Wabbit
    Convert from GP to GTL
    http://www.timlinerud.com/racing/index.html

    racer_tim @ yahoo dot com

  20. #20
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    Just wanted to point out, before someone else chimes in, that the original post is almost 3 years old. I'm guessing Dave has probably made up his mind by now
    Earl R.
    240SX
    ITA/ST5

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