Hill Climb in Snow - Toyota RAV4 Forums
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#1 (permalink) Old 12-27-2012, 09:40 AM
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Hill Climb in Snow

Apologies in advance as I'm sure this has been covered, but cannot find thread. I have a 2012 4WD with dealer tires--Bridgestone Dueler H/T. My driveway is 150' at approx 5% slope, with 4-5" of snow on top. I started up at very slow speed from foot of drive, didn't push any buttons, and RAV barely made it up into the garage. For starters I am sure I need to change tires. That being said, I am confused about which buttons I should push to make it up into the garage without getting stuck on my driveway. Should I: 1]push the 4WD Lock button, but leave TRAC/VSC as is? Or 2] Should I push 4WD Lock and disable the TRAC/VSC? Or 3] Should I leave 4WD Lock unpushed and instead disable Trac/VSC? Thanks in advance for your help, Kathy.
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#2 (permalink) Old 12-27-2012, 11:58 AM
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more choices for you to try:
4] suggestion removed: I had been mistakenly thinking that the downhill assist would work uphill also.
5] Back into the driveway so that if I get stuck on the way up, I will have an easy exit from my driveway.

Check your Owner's Manual. There is a further choice: TRAC can be turned off by poking the button briefly, and holding the button in longer disables both TRAC and VSC.

I would do 1] and 5] for simplicity, but I have not studied it as much as others. I might experiment with 4], but I might prefer getting a little momentum built up before hitting the slope. Unlike somebody whose driveway slopes down away from the street, you are unlikely to get stuck at home.

2009 V6 4wd Base

Last edited by Carbon; 01-05-2013 at 10:10 AM. Reason: Removed downhill assist suggestion... works only downhill.
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#3 (permalink) Old 12-27-2012, 12:06 PM
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Yes, use the "Four-Wheel Drive Lock button". My owners manual states to only turn the TRAC and VCS System off so that you can "Rock" the vehicle should you get stuck in snow or mud. I live in the mountains of NH and we have plenty of hills and get plenty of snow up here. Portions of the road up to my home are about a 9-11% uphill grade. I have not had to turn the TRAC/VSC system off yet. Additionally, I have the same tires that you do.

However, you can experiment both ways regarding the TRAC/VCS System to see which gives you the better performance under those conditions.

Btw, welcome to the Forum.

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Last edited by jimski; 12-27-2012 at 02:36 PM.
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#4 (permalink) Old 12-27-2012, 02:20 PM
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I would use four wheel drive lock and shut off the traction control and floor it.
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#5 (permalink) Old 12-27-2012, 02:48 PM
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The 4wd will kick in even without pushing the button. It jsut does it a split second slower as the front tires need to slip a bit before the it will do so.

This is the first time I heard of turning off the VSC by holding down the traction control button.

2012 4wd i4 3rd row
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#6 (permalink) Old 12-27-2012, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by MrPulldown View Post
This is the first time I heard of turning off the VSC by holding down the traction control button.
According to my owner's manual, in order to turn off both the TRAC and VSC Systems:

While the vehicle is stopped, push and hold the switch (button) UNTIL the Trac Off and VSC Off Indicator Lights comes on.

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#7 (permalink) Old 12-27-2012, 03:15 PM
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Most likely your tires aren't good enough for the snow....If 4 wheels are turning and your not getting anywhere, then change your booties... Press your 4 wheel lock to make sure all the tires are working for you if you're in a situation where you think you might need extra traction for a short time. I'm not sure how to turn off the other features described.....My Rav seems to go through anything so far with new winter tires.... very impressed. (08 limited)

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#8 (permalink) Old 12-27-2012, 03:38 PM
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If you got wet snow this is the worst kind as it clogs up the tread of all season tires instantly and this is where winter tires shine; in your area you probably don't need winter tires but there's always exceptions to the rule. You probably don't need winter boots either most of the time and can get by with leather shoes or sneakers, not where I live

Imagine if your tires were pretty worn

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#9 (permalink) Old 12-27-2012, 04:01 PM
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Thanks......

....to all who replied to my hill-climbing dilemma. I just came in from plowing my driveway and re-testing the RAV in 4WD mode only. It went up and into the garage just fine, but was mildly squirrelly at one point. I have studded winter tires on my 94 Bronco so I do have a comparison vehicle for the RAV.
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#10 (permalink) Old 12-27-2012, 04:01 PM
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Activating the 4WD lock basically gives you more immediate acceleration, especially from a stop, as others have said. It also routes the maximum amount of power to the rear wheels at all times, which is helpful if you are on and off the gas as you are going up hill because the amount of power going to the rear wheels will be decreased with lower throttle openings.

Here's the catch 22. By keeping your traction control and stability control systems active, the amount of wheelspin and throttle will be limited to try and keep all four wheels rolling in sync. It may cut power when you don't need it, and it may overheat your brakes. The flip side is that if you disable these systems, the Rav will fishtail and slide around more, and if you are not skilled with handling a car that is sliding around, you may crash. But the traction advantage if you need to keep moving is worthwhile. See about half-way down in this article:

Tire Test Results : Winter Testing at the Arctic Circle: Studdable Winter / Snow

where it says:

Close review of the data captured during this test showed the aggressive tread designs of the Studdable Winter / Snow tires reached their maximum acceleration force around 45% wheel spin. Faster wheel spin resulted in relatively constant acceleration as it passed 60% slip. This shows how turning off the traction control in certain situations when using Studdable Winter / Snow tires can be helpful, such as when trying to maintain vehicle momentum when churning through deep snow, or when attempting to get a vehicle unstuck by rocking it back and forth. Most vehicle traction control systems will not allow enough wheel spin to utilize a winter tire's peak acceleration traction found at relatively high wheel spin levels.

While they were testing winter tires, the results can be extrapolated to all-season and I would think especially SUV-type tires. This means that if you need maximum drive traction, you have to have some amount of wheelspin, and then deal with the car sliding around sideways.

As a side note, I have the Altimax Arctic tires that are part of that TireRack test. They will let your Rav go anywhere in the snow that any sane person would go, with no traction issues. That 5% slope would be no problem and during our last snow, I tried starting from a dead stop on several inches of fresh snow on about a 10% slope and got going with very little slipping.

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