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I know this is P101 not roadsafety101 but I value your opinions!

I have two vehicles to choose from and can't decide which is the best/safest option for my 5 month old daughter this winter.

Vehicle 1: 2010 Toyota Tacoma, 4x4, remote start, 3 year old all season tires.

Vehicle 2: 2008 Volkswagen city golf, winter tires bought new last winter.

I realize the truck with winter tires would be best but buying winter tires for it isn't possible right now. We live in Alberta Canada with snowy, cold winters.

Thanks for you opinions.

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( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 4th, 2012 01:42 pm (UTC)
AWD and 4WD vehicles can get by with all season tires OK. Winter tires on a FWD are good, but no substitute for being able to drive all four tires when you start to slip. For winter in a snowy location, pick 4WD.
Nov. 4th, 2012 02:02 pm (UTC)
I'm a firm believer in not buying winter tires. I've been told a few times, though I'm not sure how true it is, that winter tires are not much more than regular tires with a bit more grip and are designed to hold a little less air, which is what helps them stick to the ground better. As long as you slow down and drive according to the conditions, you should be fine. (Coming from growing up in snowy Northwestern Ontario, and now living in a pretty nasty snow belt in Central Ontario).

As far as "safest car" goes, as long as your babe is in a properly fitted, properly installed, correctly fastened car seat (ie- no bulky winter suits, no bundle car seat covers that go between her back and the car seat), your daughter will be safe.
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 4th, 2012 04:16 pm (UTC)
My car had really good all season tires, and there was a HUGE difference in driving when I finally got winter tires. My stopping ability was vastly improved, I didn't slip, and there was just an all-around improvement in performance.
Nov. 4th, 2012 04:17 pm (UTC)
In Germany, when you're stopped by the police and don't have winter tires, you'll get fined, which I find okay since the deeper profile and added structures for driving on loose ground add quite a bit of safety after all. But yes, driven down winter tires are probably not that much of a difference to brand new summer tires, at least when an experienced driver is using them.
However, if you're a "firm believer in not buying winter tires" upon something someone told you and where you're "not sure how true it is", I would consider researching them a bit more to make an informed decision instead of relying on something from a potentially questionable source. As far as I know winter tires are totally different, since the pattern is not only deeper, but also designed for the winter weather and the difference in gravel, snow, loose earth etc. But then I am not an expert myself, since I drive bicycle and peruse my husband's car, not having my own.

I would take the car that will be safer on the winter road.

Edited at 2012-11-04 06:53 pm (UTC)
Nov. 4th, 2012 04:21 pm (UTC)
I disagree with you on both points. Here's why:

Tires: It vastly depends on what type of vehicle you have, IMO. I always driven front-wheel-drive Volkswagens and I *need* snow tires to get where I need to go. Now, I'm also in a snow belt in (southern) Ontario where we get a lot of lake affect snow and we are rural enough that a little bit of wind and a little bit of snow can easily close down highways, county roads and even rural roads. We also live in a high elevation, and are sounded by rolling hills. I can tell you first hand that it's impossible to get out my parents subdivision (uphill - dirt road so salting does nothing) with all-seasons versus snows. Snow tires here are a must if you *need* to get into town. Also, winter tires usually are made from a softer rubber compound so they stick better than "all season" tires, in addition to having a lot better of a tread design. My husband also snowplows and he can tell you first hand what a good set of winter tires does versus all seasons. And in the winter if he has to drive through the mountains in some areas on the other side of the country/continent, not only are winter tires required, but so are snow chains.

Safest: Yep, I mostly agree. However, have you even been in a Volkswagen or small car and been hit by another vehicle? There isn't a lot of crumple room. Small car versus larger vehicle leads to the larger vehicle passengers having a better survival chance just because they are up higher and have more crumple room. I would *hate* to be smashed in my little Volkswagen Golf by any other vehicle, let alone a vehicle larger than mine. But anytime we have the chance, we take our truck (1 ton dually) because I know if we get into an accident in it, we have a better chance than we do in the Volkswagen.

Absolutely drive according to the conditions, slow down when necessary, and make sure child, passengers and contents are all secured properly.
Nov. 4th, 2012 06:50 pm (UTC)
There's a HUGE difference between normal tires and winter tires. A week ago or two ago, we had our first snow here in Finland, and the amount of traffic accidents went from a few dozen to a few HUNDRED (not exaggerating, it was all over the news) because of the fact that most people still had regular tires on. The amount of traffic accidents gets way lower again when most people have winter tires on. It happens every year.

Of course, being careful plays a major part in it too, but winter tires really do make a very big difference. I'm super careful always, but t's awfully scary to drive on ice with regular tires because they are so much more slippery than winter tires. You really do notice the difference when you try it.

It's actually illegal to drive with regular tires in the winter over here, that's how big a difference there is!
Nov. 4th, 2012 07:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah it does make a difference. I think it was two years ago and Texas got a freeze and everyone was freaking out. Here(MD) if that happened, no problem, no issue but it was crazy over there! It's because no one had winter tires and everyone had no idea how to drive in that sort of freeze/snow/sleaty situation. My mom who had just moved there still had her MD tires and had no trouble.
Nov. 4th, 2012 02:37 pm (UTC)
I would go with whichever car your daughter can properly sit RF in, middle position if possible. If that is both, whichever one you are more comfortable driving.
Nov. 4th, 2012 02:52 pm (UTC)
As a fellow Albertan, I'd say your biggest concerns would be having a charged cell phone, a tank at least 1/4 full of gas, and a roadside assistance plan, because pulling yourself out of a ditch or changing a tire while you've got a baby in the car aren't going to be easily done on your own. Other than that, not sure it matters which vehicle you drive. Ice will put either of them off the road, and both should travel regular roads just fine with cautious driving.
Nov. 4th, 2012 02:56 pm (UTC)
Toyota. The upkeep for a Volvo is really expensive and they don't last as long
Nov. 4th, 2012 02:56 pm (UTC)
Nov. 4th, 2012 04:22 pm (UTC)
Upkeep is not a lot different than most other imports, and some can last longer than others. 410k on my litttle VW. :)
Nov. 4th, 2012 05:36 pm (UTC)
I bet your VW is older and made in Germany. Our 2004 passat wagon has had a few expensive known failures pop up already. There's no chance it's going to run long enough to hit 300k, is my prediction.
Nov. 4th, 2012 06:08 pm (UTC)
Older yes, but not old. 2002 Golf and made in Mexico. I'm not sure we have had one made in Germany yet, actually...Well maybe some of the first models my parents had, but none mine.

We have had a few big repairs, but nothing major on every vehicle and never twice. My dad was a commuter driving over 650 miles a week in his cars so he's always had VW's. Since I was born, he's had '84 Rabbit, '87 Jetta, '90 Jetta, '90 Golf, '96 Jetta and '02 Golf. The latter three ended up as hand-me-downs to me - the first three were hand-me-downs to my stay-at-home mother. Out of all of those, only two had major repairs. The '90 Jetta had the head gasket go, and so they literally just swapped the motor from the '87 and the '90 and just wrote the other car off and my mom didn't have one for a while. The '96 Jetta had a failing transmission when we bought it, but it still worked. Reverse gear was not happy, so we were very gentle with it. But after I got it, I started to hit the ditch at a slow speed and rammed it into reverse and took out reverse gear out of instinct. Costly instinct, let me tell you. I put a clutch in at the same time. Yeah it was costly, but expect for the mileage it had (300k) and the car was still in good shape overall. Looking back, this particular one I wish I had never fixed because it had quirks that drove me crazy. It could have fallen under the term lemon. My current VW had some costly work done on it over the summer, but it was maintenance, not repair. We have not had a major repair in the current Golf and it's been in the family for 9.5 years now.

What failures have you had, just out of curiosity? I've had friends with gas VW's that have had issues with theirs, but one keeps taking hers to a known unreliable shop and her issues continue. And instead of fighting them to fix their mess-ups, she's been very passive and just keeps bringing it back and paying more and more. Another just plain didn't do her maintenance, then toasted a transmission - had it replaced then toasted a motor.
Nov. 4th, 2012 06:21 pm (UTC)
02 sensor, water pump, and... something else. I am not highly car literate. It had a good mechanical history when I bought it, but we are honestly looking sideways at it a little bit at this point: "What's next?"

Our mechanic is excellent and well-trusted.
Nov. 4th, 2012 06:27 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't blame that on it being a Volkswagen. It's part of being a vehicle with so may parts that deteriorate with time and need replacement. It's unfortunate that it goes that way, but you could have had the exact same luck in a Civic, Grand Caravan or full size one-ton Ram.

Hope that's it for your car though and it treats you well throughout the rest of its life. :)
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 4th, 2012 09:14 pm (UTC)
When we were deciding between a Toyota and VW we were told by our mechanic that any repairs that a VW needs always costs considerably more due to the parts being more expensive.
Nov. 4th, 2012 09:56 pm (UTC)
To each their own then. My husband is a mechanic and is the one that does any and all repairs on my car. Parts are usually purchased aftermarket (cheaper) and my fuel efficiency is far greater than that of any Toyota model on the market due to having a diesel. So whether or not it is cheaper or not, in the long run, I'd rather have my VW.
Nov. 4th, 2012 10:56 pm (UTC)
Interesting, I didn't even know they had diesel VWs. What mileage do you get?
Nov. 4th, 2012 11:41 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't have it any other way - our vehicles are always diesel. If I had to switch to a gasoline fueled car, I'd be likely buying a locally built Honda Civic (the plant is 20 minutes away).

These days I get about just over 50mpg, but my dad used to regularly get closer to 60 when he was doing nothing but commuting. I get better mileage in the summer but it averages around to be close to 50-52mpg. Some fuel stations are better than others, too. So far we've had best luck with the biodiesel station in the next town which is part veggie oil.
Nov. 4th, 2012 04:25 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty sure they own both vehicles and its a matter of which one she drives the baby in.
Nov. 4th, 2012 09:12 pm (UTC)
I think she might have been saying to put less wear and tear on the car that would be more expensive to repair/wouldn't last as long.
Nov. 4th, 2012 05:39 pm (UTC)
What are you talking about? VWs are great cars! So are Volvos, since you mention them. VWs have tight suspensions and good power and if it's a manual transmission all the better for using the power to get around in snow. They last ages, the car I learned to drive on is on it's 2nd owner (me, then this person) and is still on the road, 400K + miles on it. GTFO with your anti VW talk. Bah.
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 4th, 2012 03:09 pm (UTC)
Tires really depend on WHERE you drive. I live in New Brunswick and there is no way I could ever get by with all season because of the area I live (I have studded winter tires). I drive a Hyundai Elantra and I've also driven a 4WD Dodge Ram and I'll say that I feel much safer in my car, because it's closer to the road, smaller and easier to handle in big storms. Also easier on gas. I get that the truck is bigger and in a crash would probably suffer the least amount of damage, but if you're talking driving and maneuvering I'd say go for the car.
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 4th, 2012 04:20 pm (UTC)
What condition are the 3 year old all seasons in? I think that's going to be a huge factor. If they're just about needing to be replaced then all the 4wd in the world isn't going to help when the tires have no traction left. If the all-seasons are nearing the end of their life then I would take the smaller vehicle with the better winter driving tires any day. If the truck's tires are still really good then I might go that way, but again it would depend on how good they were to begin with. Not all tires are created equal.
Nov. 4th, 2012 04:32 pm (UTC)
In addition to my comments above - the only vehicles we've had that have gone in accidents are trucks (thankfully). Both were write-offs - both were roll-overs. Both had all-season tires with inexperienced drivers. The first, he didn't have weight in the back-end to keep it from spinning out on the ice. The second was my brother-in-law and he had a very bad error in judgement and forgot to put it into 4x4. It also had all-season tires. After this, we ensured every vehicle had a good set of winter tires on and we haven't had an issue.

The main things - the truck, if you guys have kept it between the ditches in previous years, this year is likely not going to be too much different. You know how it handles, what do when you start to spin out, etc (hopefully), so it sounds like a viable option. The VW, definitely has the potential to get through the snow and ice with a good set of tires (I've only owned VWs myself, having a '90 Golf, '96 Jetta and latest is a getting ready to retire '02 Golf). I can get through most anything, as long as the roads are not being enforced as closed. I love my front-wheel-drive in the snow - I would take it over a rear-wheel-drive vehicle any day of the week. But, with being in a smaller vehicle, while it's still a good, safe vehicle, it's that much easier to get creamed by another bigger vehicle and have it cause considerably worse damage than that of a larger vehicle. If you feel most comfortable in it though, it's definitely a better option than the truck.

Honestly, I'd be willing to move the seat between both the truck and the car and just go with whatever feels best at that time.
Nov. 4th, 2012 04:53 pm (UTC)
Honestly, I'd be willing to move the seat between both the truck and the car and just go with whatever feels best at that time.

I agree.
Nov. 4th, 2012 05:08 pm (UTC)
We have a camry with winter tires and a tacoma with all wheel drive/all season tires and when the snow starts coming (we live in Utah about 20 minutes drive from 3 of the biggest ski resorts) my husband and I switch cars and I drive the tacoma around town (driving around town always seems more sketchy than getting on the freeway when it snows and is icey with all the starts and stops) and my husband takes the camry exactly for the reasons you are talking about.

If anything happens in the tacoma we have a lot more weight and size which I think helps in survivability than in my camry and so to me it seems quite a bit safer not to mention the 4 wheel drive (we add weight to the back with the cap thing (can't remember what its called) and a couple of sandbags for additional back traction).

Good luck:)

An additional note: around here its not so much falling in a ditch as much as sliding and being slid into by multiple cars/idiots that drive way faster than the conditions call for...so I assume I will be hit and thats why my son and I go in the truck during winter months. Being in a few incidents where I've been slid into (even in low speed areas) the impact is far less severe in the trucks (we've had 3 tacomas and 2 camrys) I've been in (all the accidents I've been in (and/or seen on the road while driving) are wet/snowy weather where people have slid INTO us/me/another car). I think the lessened feeling of impact has to do with the greater suspension on a truck and its ability to 'rock' a lot more than a sedan b/c its higher up.

Edited at 2012-11-04 05:15 pm (UTC)
Nov. 4th, 2012 05:29 pm (UTC)
I'd say whichever one you can drive better. Like we have a honda fit and a dodge ram. Even though the fit is "less safe" with smaller tires, etc, I feel more comfortable driving it than the large truck, so the fit is safer for me to drive.
Nov. 4th, 2012 05:43 pm (UTC)
I loved my Golf III in the snow. Just sayin'. Handled great. I live in Eastern WA which is not nearly as wintery as where you are but we do get quite a lot of snow and it sticks around until spring. My Golf was a great car... it now lives in Montana (winters!) and is a great car for someone else.

That said, I love having 4WD too.

You know, it's not like you have to put the car seat in one car and then never move it. You can use the 4WD when the snow is really bad and then for regular day-to-day crappy road but not terribly snowy driving you can use the Golf. Be flexible! Use the car that works best in the moment!
Nov. 4th, 2012 06:40 pm (UTC)
Whichever one you drive better in. If you were equally comfortable in both cars, I'd say the Golf, and save the Tacoma for days the Golf truly couldn't handle. Is your daughter in a bucket seat? Could you just get a second base to make switching easier?
Nov. 5th, 2012 01:32 am (UTC)
Whatever will survive a crash with another vehicle better. I vote truck.
Nov. 9th, 2012 01:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks everyone for your comments. We decided to put our daughter in the VW car. It has good tires and I feel most comfortable driving it. We just purchased a convertible seat because our baby hates her bucket seat. This is why I had to decide on a vehicle. We have kept the bucket seat base in the truck for days I feel the car can't handle.

( 37 comments — Leave a comment )


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