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Discussion Starter #1
The other day I had the unfortunate experience of backing off the edge of a driveway on a steep hill. I had the drivers side front wheel on the concrete driveway and the other three wheels on the grass. When I tried to drive back onto the driveway the front wheel on the concrete would just spin and the other wheels did nothing. I had to be pulled back onto the drive by a Ford pickup. "Embarassing" :oops: . Why did the all wheel drive not engage? I went ot the dealer and got what I think is a poor explanation.
 

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Funny you should say that !
I had a similar experience in observing a brand new CRV stuck in snow with the front wheels stuck in a rut and the rear passenger wheel spinning !!!
He had to rock himself out. :?:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hershey, the dealer (young service guy) said that there must be forward motion in order to engage the other wheels drive gears. If you are just sitting still and spinning the wheels, the other wheel will not engage.

Also, I should have mentioned that the spinning driver side front wheel was the least loaded or the wheel with least wheel on it due the angle of the hill.
 

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Hershey, the dealer (young service guy) said that there must be forward motion in order to engage the other wheels drive gears. If you are just sitting still and spinning the wheels, the other wheel will not engage.

Also, I should have mentioned that the spinning driver side front wheel was the least loaded or the wheel with least wheel on it due the angle of the hill.
The rear wheels are dependant on oil pressure to engage the clutch. Unless you were really spinning the front wheels (where the pressure is generated), there would not have been enough pressure generated activate the clutch for the rear wheels. I'm sure this is a very crude explanation, but I hope I got the point across.
 

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is clear. this so-called all-wheel (also advertised on the window sticker as 4 wheel drive) can easily get stuck! Sounds like misleading advertising to me. The reason i added the 4wd when I bought my E was so when I go to the mountains in wintertime I would not have to put on the chains so soon. However, if I'm parked in a snowy carlot, it appears I will be in no better position than if I only had 2wd. Shame on you Honda!
 

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Hmmm, this is interesting. I am ordering a 4X4 Element in 5 speed manual because we live in the mountains and I thought that when it snowed, I could use it to get up my snow filled driveway. I use my XTerra in 4X4 and it does it fine.

Is an automatic any better/worse in the snow when the 4X4 is engaged in a Element?

Thanks, Jim
 

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I just had the opportunity to take my E up a grassy hill that always used to give my front wheel drive minivan fits. I'd have to take a running start at it, and spin the wheels like crazy in order to get any kind of traction on the grass (didn't do the lawn any good, either). This time, I aimed the E at the hill and very neatly cruised right up. I could feel the 4WD engaging and disengaging as the front wheels started to slip, but no significant wheel spinning happened at all.

Sweet.
 

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[quote:80462c22a5="reedpc"]I just had the opportunity to take my E up a grassy hill that always used to give my front wheel drive minivan fits. I'd have to take a running start at it, and spin the wheels like crazy in order to get any kind of traction on the grass (didn't do the lawn any good, either). This time, I aimed the E at the hill and very neatly cruised right up. I could feel the 4WD engaging and disengaging as the front wheels started to slip, but no significant wheel spinning happened at all.

Sweet.[/quote:80462c22a5]

reedpc - your post has made me feel a lot better about the AWD. Two thumbs way up.
 

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I think the real time 4WD system on the Element is more of an upgrade from regular front-wheel drive and will help out in snow/wet conditions when the front wheels start to slip when moving. It's nowhere near the capability of a true 4WD system like the Xterra or a Jeep has, and I don't think it pretends to be.

What I find kind of disappointing is reading some posts on here and hearing stories of the system not even engaging when it seems clear it should. Do the planets have to be aligned in a certain way before the thing will engage?
 

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[quote:823cd25984="wr70beh"]I think the real time 4WD system on the Element is more of an upgrade from regular front-wheel drive and will help out in snow/wet conditions when the front wheels start to slip when moving. It's nowhere near the capability of a true 4WD system like the Xterra or a Jeep has, and I don't think it pretends to be.[/quote:823cd25984]

Agreed. If you need full-blown off-road capability, the E is probably not the car you want. If you want some enhanced sure-footedness when it comes to crappy weather and occasional less-than-ideal traction conditions, then the 4wd/Awd/whatever is a definite plus.
 

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oh come on! we aren't talking about "full blown" off road (whatever that means), I expected more than a system that won't work from a stand-still or if only one wheel is dangling. honda should be more up front about the limitations, and NEVER refer to it as 4wheel drive. if fact I'm going to have to change my sig lines now. (from 4wd equipped).
 

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This account reaffirms what I've been told before: Honda's AWD is a joke.
Even if it worked perfectly, I'm not sure I'd opt for it. I just don't need 4 or AWD. Come to think of it, I bet at least 3/4 of AWD Element owners don't really need it either. If you know how to drive (and stick to normal roads) FWD will get you through just fine.
My fiancee's Tracker has 4WD when you need it. We live around Toronto and use it maybe five times a year, but I can't think of one time when I would have been stuck w/out it. Am I glad it's there? Ya, I guess. Could I live w/out it? Absolutely. And that's on a light, RWD vehicle (when it's in 2WD). FWD is way better in the snow. I just don't see the need. And if it's a questionable system on top of all that, then there's no question, I'll take the 2WD and put the money saved into a set of nice summer wheels and tires and put snows on the OEM wheels.
 

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[quote:3e7ba1187f="Rockford"] FWD is way better in the snow.[/quote:3e7ba1187f]

I don't think universally that's true. Not after 3 winters with a FWD PT Cruiser. It slid as bad as my '68 Chevelle SS did with slicks. I could drive it, but it was constant adjustment to keep it sliding centrally. It wasn't the tires either, because I had four brand new, best rated snow tires on it last winter. There must have been a bad combination of weight distribution, steering and suspension - it was the first FWD I've ever had that slid like that.

I'll be happy if my AWD EX drives as well as my previous FWD's did in the snow.
 

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In my view, the AWD system is not a "joke." Most times, people do not need a 4wd system, and it is more economical and environmentally friendly to have only fwd operating because that's all that's needed in the given circumstances.

But when we need the Honda AWD, it works. We climb. Frequently. The AWD in our (prior) CR-V kicked in and helped going up wet and snowy pavement and curves, crawling up and around in mountains (mostly in the Sierras, Rockies, Cascades, and Olympics) over mixed terrain, and even crossing streambeds, at times impressing others with dedicated 4wd systems. This system is more than enough for the average person, and I'm more concerned about the Element clearance (6.7 vs. 8.1) than the AWD system (and we think we'll be able to compensate).

Of course, I'm not going to attempt to ascend a roadless rocky mountain incline where one (or more) wheel was going to be leaving contact with the surface in the slow crawl to the top, or on a similar descent (no low gear). I'm also not going to use it in soft sand. I'd purchase a truck-based SUV (or perhaps a VW Toureg) with a locking differential for that. But how many people are actually using their vehicles for these purposes? And, in my experience, those who do engage in these activities (they are fun, after all) know precisely what kind of vehicle they need - a stiff frame and true 4 wheel drive. They aren't purchasing Elements or other car-based SUVs.

On a separate point, in my opinion, all wheel drive Hondas also tend to have better weight distibution than fwd-only versions.

Regarding snow, Car and Driver did an interesting comparison of vehicles with both 4wd (Audis and Mercedes) and fwd options. I'll try to find the link. If I remember correctly, 4wd helps mainly getting to the top of an incline, but the added weight increases stopping distance substantially. The conclusion was that snow tires were a better use of the money than purchasing 4wd.
 

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I live in Hamilton Ontario

The day after I bought my "E-awd" we experienced a major snow/ice storm (April 1,2003 for those who remember). I came out in the morning to fine my NEW "E" covered in ice and snow and honestly thought about not going it to work....

However, I scraped off the snow, warmed up the beast and headed off to work (normally a 50 minute commute).

It took me two hours to get to work as it did everyone else that day.

On the unplowed road that I live on my Element tracked like a tank and I even blew through a 4 foot snow drift. On the icey 4 lane road (403/407) I never felt the tires slip/slide loose traction at all. I could feel the AWD working and felt good in how the system acted and reacted to driving conditions.

I did however see three 4X4 in accidents that morning. A Ford Escape took off over a ditch and took out a hydro pole. A Toyota spun into the centre wall on the 407 and completely ripped off his driver rear wheel (found a 1/4 mile up the road, and a Chevy blazer had done a rollover in the median. They were all driving too fast and beyond the limits of the vehicle and road conditions.

I don't plane on following a Jeep up a mountain trial, but for safe commuting, fun driving on back roads and snow covered roads the Element has proven itself for me.

BTW, I've got almost 17,000 miles (20,000KM) on mine thanks to a recent trip from Hamilton to Calgary and back.
 

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FWD tend to fail on steep snow covered mountain roads. Rear or front wheel only drive cars get stuck constantly and litter the big hills when the snow is over 4-6 inches and the roads aren't yet plowed. You need AWD, 4WD, Quad drive etc... when you travel/live in the Pocono mountains in Pennsylvania in the winter.. Anybody who ski's or lives there already knows this.
 
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