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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
For those who have followed my threads about hill-assist, ETC, and General v Dunlop snow tires, I ran my promised experiment today.

The contestants:
Bullwinkle, our 2014 2.0 FWD with General Altimax Artics.
Ignatz, our 2008 2.4 FWD with Dunlop Grandtreks.

Control: Rocky, our 2011 Wrangler, 3.8, 6-spd manual.

The conditions:
Temp was about 15F.
Snow-covered hill with no curves on a lightly traveled asphalt road.
Hard-packed snow beneath a couple inches of new snow that fell overnight.
I estimate the grade at about 15%, but I really have no way to calculate accurately.

Overall, I'd call these conditions about as tough as I'm likely to come upon on most normal roads.

The Results:
I tried Bullwinkle with the FWD, 2.0 5-spd Generals first. When I intentionally stopped I could not get restarted. Tried it twice, the second time on a lesser part of the grade, but had to back down both times. Against my better judgment I tried heavier throttle when it started to spin, but the ETC flashing was only a distraction and provided no help -- maybe marginally worse since the braking had me steering crazy to correct and it was soon hopeless. IMHO, ETC is a pretty useless invention. Finally, with bit of a headstart and maintaining modest speed I was well able to make the hill (or I'd still be there -- no other way out).

Ignatz, with the FWD, 2.4 CVT and Dunlops was able to stop and restart twice, first on the easier part of the grade and then after restarting there, I went further up the hill and stopped again on the steepest part. I was able to restart on the hill both times. :) It did what the Wrangler did in 4wd, but not as easily.

Control:
Rocky our 2011 Wrangler 3.8 6-spd manual with General Grabber Artic LTs. Could not restart anywhere on the hill in 2wd. In 2wd it was the worst of the three. In 4wd it climbed the hill no problem restarting anywhere.

Analysis:
I think the General and Dunlops are both very good tires, I think the big difference was the CVT (or really a conventional automatic would have done it too). Using the clutch, no matter how good I think I am, my clutch engagement is not perfectly smooth. With the CVT, even with a slight rollback I was able to ease the power on so gently that my tires never broke loose. I was truly amazed that I could get restarted on the steeper part of the hill. :smiley_thumbs_up:

Under these conditions I think studs would have made a difference.
I did manage to stir up a little dirt when I was spinning, maybe from a previous storm. It certainly made no difference today.

The ETC is beyond useless. If the tires have lost traction, the only solution is to lay off the gas, but in my case I was already sliding backward. All the ETC did was make it harder to control.

To my way of thinking, this was a perfect test, and honestly unbiased. I was a bit surprised the Dunlops beat the Generals, and a bit surprised I couldn't restart on the hill with the manual tranny. Everything I've been taught is that manuals are better in the snow. The results are what they are.

It was no surprise that the Wrangler couldn't do it in 2wd. That would have been remarkable.

I wished I'd made a video . . .

PS, I never even noticed the hill-assist feature with the 5-spd.
 

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Great write-up. If you would have chained-up either of the Patriots, how do you think you'd fare?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Great write-up. If you would have chained-up either of the Patriots, how do you think you'd fare?
Wouldn't be challenging with chains. Chains will get anything through anything unless the power isn't enough, e.g. too steep a grade or too much snow resistance (dragging bottom or pushing with the bumper). Chains even help on glare ice because they'll carve their way through it.

Back when most cars were RWD we always carried tires mounted with chains in the trunk. In moderate snow the extra weight in back was helpful; in deep snow all it took was changing the wheels. Not as easy as it sounds when you're in snow, but we did it.
 

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But wouldn't it be easier to put chains on when you need them, versus having to jack the vehicle up to change the tires? Just asking. I only used chains on a couple vehicles, never on a really good surface to jack it up. Never could stop my '63 Valiant, standard slant 6 with chains on, unless the snow was way too deep.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
But wouldn't it be easier to put chains on when you need them, versus having to jack the vehicle up to change the tires? Just asking. I only used chains on a couple vehicles, never on a really good surface to jack it up. Never could stop my '63 Valiant, standard slant 6 with chains on, unless the snow was way too deep.
I'd rather deal with a jack and 10 lug nuts than get down in the snow and reach around a wet filthy tire while fumbling with the connections on the chains in bitter cold, with wind the weather. Face it, we don't need chains on a nice sunny afternoon!

I'd always install the chains on a mounted set of old tires (who cares about the tread with chains?) on a warm October afternoon in the garage. Almost anyone can change a wheel, even in the snow, so given a couple minutes per wheel I'd be on my way regardless of the weather.

Seems everywhere I've live I was always on a hill. Except during the Blizzard of '78. I got home that first night in a RWD Volare -- snow tires, no chains!
 
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