Why am I even asking this question?
Because the answer of four wheel drive (4WD)! But, for many people the expense of a 4WD can’t be justified so chains it is. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of both.
There’s little question if you’re driving up and down snowy roads with some regularity, that four wheel drive (or all wheel drive as it’s sometimes termed) is the better option. In New Zealand, Subarus are one of the most popular brands, and it’s a common sight (and selling point) to see a Subaru cruising past the chain fitting bay, while people struggle to fit chains in the mud and cold. Yuck! But for all their benefits, four wheel drives aren’t perfect ...
The bottom line is, if you drive in difficult conditions, such as on ski areas, and can afford it, a 4WD will make your life much easier. But, they are not invincible. There is still rubber (slippery) against snow or ice (slippery) and at times you’ll still need to fit chains. So, even 4WD owners need to always carry chains, always.
In comparison, most people already own a two wheel drive car and have little option when heading to the snow. But it’s not all bad. Many ski areas do an amazing job of snow removal these days and when you do have to fit chains, many types are way easier to fit these days. For example …
But there are a few things to remember::
Regardless of whether you own a 2 or 4 wheel drive there are some basics to remember that will help you stay safe on the road:
So, to answer the question, chains or four wheel drive. Well, for me personally, living in Christchurch and visiting ski areas a lot, a 4WD is logical. My trusty Subaru Outback has treated me well. But the reality is, that if you ski only 2 – 3 times a year and have a perfectly good 2WD, then a set of good quality chains will do the trick. Either way, drive safely and to the conditions and you’ll have a great day on the mountain, in whatever vehicle you choose to travel in.