This most recent trip to Lake Arrowhead was absolutely amazing with a huge amount of snow but it might have been the straw that broke the camels back. We’ve used my 2wd Toyota Tacoma Prerunner for camping, overlanding/offroading, and family trips for the past 5 years. But never has there been a time that I REALLY decided I need a 4wd.
When I first bought this truck I didn’t anticipate needing 4wd. They were a lot more expensive and I figured the limited slip differential would be enough for my needs. But once I had the truck I realized it’s capabilities both offroad and as a camping vehicle — it can haul so much stuff! The past few years I’ve wished I had 4wd to get to more remote areas of the desert and mountains, however I never really “needed” 4wd until this recent trip. Snow and ice don’t go well in 2wd it turns out.
A bigger than anticipated snow storm
The first few days of our annual cabin snow trip with friends was perfect! We got snow the first night and morning and it was a winter wonderland. We had two more days to enjoy it! By the third day we started getting winter storm warning alerts on our phones and it said we’d be under advisory the 24-hour period we were supposed to be heading home.
Luckily we were able to book another day and extend our trip! The weather showed that by the fifth day it should clear up and we can head home. We took inventory and determined we had plenty of food if we got creative but might run low on boos. Oh heck no!
Beer or less beer?
My friend and I took a walk through the neighborhood to the main road to survey the street full of snow and ice. There were a few small hills to climb along with some tight turns. It didn’t look too bad since the roads had been plowed that morning, but there was still ice on the road and a layer of snow. We decided to give it a try and take the truck to the store for more supplies.
With chains on the rear tires we eased out of the driveway sliding a bit almost instantly. I pulled into the road and we were on a way. There was no trouble until I came upon a hill where I felt the tires start spinning and the backend of my truck was sliding back and forth. I felt as if I didn’t keep my momentum up I would roll back down the hill. After white-knuckling all the way to plowed and level main road we decided it wasn’t worth the risk to continue driving on unknown roads to the store 3 miles away.
We’d have to ration the rest of the beer — which ended up being just enough!
We made a u-turn and headed back to the cabin. Getting up the last hill in front of the house was a challenge, but we made. The truck never completely lost control but it definitely broke loose a few times. I’m sure having tires with the snow symbol helped get us back safely. If you’re curious about the Cooper AT3 4S tires — they are awesome. Keep in mind… this was before the “winter storm warning” kicked in.
Our spouses knew instantly we made the “safe” decision and everyone was relieved. That morning before the plow came we watched 2wd SUVs and cars struggle getting up the small hill in front of our cabin. A few of them didn’t make it up. One guy had his buddy with 4wd drag him up the hill with a tow strap. That could have been us!
That night we got a lot more snow. The day we were supposed to leave didn’t get plowed until 4pm. There was no way we would have been able to leave even if we wanted to. Not a good feeling when you have a family.
The day we went home was clear and the roads were a little better, but still pretty bad. Even on the main road we felt the back end break loose briefly, but nothing as bad as a few days earlier. More weight was in the bed which helps with traction and I knew what to expect so I felt a bit more comfortable.
In the end, I want to trade this in and get a 4wd Tacoma. We are on the hunt, but not in a rush. We don’t go to the snow very often but do plenty of camping and dirt trails. I’ve been wanting 4wd for awhile and this experience sealed the deal. Snow and ice don’t go well with 2wd trucks.
Safe travels and be careful driving on snow and ice!
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