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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I drove my new Element for the first time in snow yesterday. We had about 12" or so of snow up at the Snoqualmie Pass Ski Slope, here in Washington state, so I drove up there to give my Element a try in it.

I drove around the unplowed parking lot. It drives great, w/it's AWD, and I didn't get stuck, though I could hear that low clearance fuel tank scraping in the snow, which I don't like. That small amount of clearance at the fuel tank bothers me. I guess the the only way to fix that is w/a suspension lift, like CCM's. I'm thinking more and more about putting one on, most likely this coming spring.

For tires, all I had was Michelin LTX M/S All Season tires, w/no chains.


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I suspect that it was the rear subframe which was doing the final, if not most of the scraping. The snow between the wheel tracks probably was quite flat, not indented more on the left side (where the tank is).

You can't lift an Element enough to avoid 'plowing' the snow in all conditions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I suspect that it was the rear subframe which was doing the final, if not most of the scraping. The snow between the wheel tracks probably was quite flat, not indented more on the left side (where the tank is).

You can't lift an Element enough to avoid 'plowing' the snow in all conditions.
Oh I realize that, I've owned several 4x4's over the years, including Jeeps, SUVs, and pickups, and including a G1 CRV, but that fuel tank does ride pretty low. I have to get a better look at it, but that fuel tank appears to be lower than the rear subframe.

The fact that it goes through a foot of snow isn't that bad at all, so I'm happy w/it. The parking lot that I drove around on wasn't paved either, and the ground underneath wasn't frozen, so not only was I driving through the snow, but partially in soft wet dirt as well.

I guess if it was hard pavement, w/a coating of ice on it, that would be another issue as well.


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WOOOHOOO! Baker's opening day is this Thursday and I'm heading up for the first ski of the season this Friday. Should be plenty of snow...a first test for my Element too! I still have the stock tires, we'll see how it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I suspect that it was the rear subframe which was doing the final, if not most of the scraping. The snow between the wheel tracks probably was quite flat, not indented more on the left side (where the tank is).

You can't lift an Element enough to avoid 'plowing' the snow in all conditions.
I took a look, and the rear subframe is lower than the fuel tank is.



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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
WOOOHOOO! Baker's opening day is this Thursday and I'm heading up for the first ski of the season this Friday. Should be plenty of snow...a first test for my Element too! I still have the stock tires, we'll see how it goes.

46" at Baker, according to the weather. ;-)

You should be fine w/the stock tires. Just don't get too brave w/your Element. :grin:

Have fun.


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For what it is worth (not much) I wouldn't lift the E. I wouldn't want to mess with it. Enjoy it for what it is and drag through that snow. It won't hurt. :grin:

You could always buy a used 4X4 for not much cash if you want a lifted vehicle.
 

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Mt. Hood opens this Wed. 11/11. I am a patroller and average 60 trips each year. No big issues with the E. I do hear something drag on the snow and always assumed that it was that protective gas tank bar.
My Subaru was better, when it comes to AWD vs 4WD, but all the other features make the E a better Ski/Ride rig.
For best performance in snow always start in 2nd gear and do not let the front wheels spin.
I am jonesing for snow.
 

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Mt. Hood opens this Wed. 11/11. I am a patroller and average 60 trips each year. No big issues with the E. I do hear something drag on the snow and always assumed that it was that protective gas tank bar.
My Subaru was better, when it comes to AWD vs 4WD, but all the other features make the E a better Ski/Ride rig.
For best performance in snow always start in 2nd gear and do not let the front wheels spin.
I am jonesing for snow.
Hey runmaster, what "other features" do you mean with regards to the Element being a better ski rig than the Subaru? After 10 years of taking my trusty RAV4 up to the mountains, this will be my first season with the Element and I'm really hoping that it will be as good as my RAV4 was. One thing that I liked about my RAV4 was the ability to lock the differential. It really go me out of a lot of jams in the snow.
 

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Well let's see, the seats are amazing for warmth, and no big thing when they get snow on them. The floor boards are great for snowy boots. I just use a whisk broom. The defrosters are strong. The tail gate is just the right height for siting on and booting up. All the little storage cubbies are outstanding for wax, sunscreen, snow-scrapers, etc. Also, the webbing behind the drivers set is great for my avalanche shovel.
I really, like to fold down the back seats and travel to the mountain with the gear inside, on and under the seats. If the gear is really wet, on the way home, I put on the roof rack.

One more thing, I am not sure you will like the E's 4WD vs RV4s AWD. It works OK but you need to be a little more aware of not letting the front wheels spin nonstop and overheat the system. It will not cause any permanent damage, but you need to wait for it to cool down. Otherwise, you will be driving in FWD only until the temp drops.

I do enjoy this E for all snow sports.
 

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One more thing, I am not sure you will like the E's 4WD vs RV4s AWD. It works OK but you need to be a little more aware of not letting the front wheels spin nonstop and overheat the system. It will not cause any permanent damage, but you need to wait for it to cool down. Otherwise, you will be driving in FWD only until the temp drops....
let me add that you have to let the fronts slip a bit in order to get the rears engaged, but don't let the fronts continue to spin and spin and spin and spin, or you can overheat the system. the system can take quite a bit of spinning fronts before it overheats: some folks like to spin donuts w/ the fronts spinning and the rears pushing the vehicle in circles. so, for best results w/ the 4WD, spin the fronts a little to get the rears engaged, but not so much that the system overheats. i write all this so that you know you have to be a little aggressive in order to get any benefit. if you try to avoid any wheel spin at all the rears will never engage, and you'll wonder what happened to the 4WD your bought. of course, if you drive so smoothly that the FWD gets you where you want to go, then no problem. anyway, you'll develop the feel for it fairly quickly. and, if you do get stuck, switch off the VSA or whatever it's called. i don't have it on my vehicle. the VSA controls the vehicle w/ a combination of throttle reduction and brake application. when momentum is what you want/need, you don't want brakes applied.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
let me add that you have to let the fronts slip a bit in order to get the rears engaged, but don't let the fronts continue to spin and spin and spin and spin, or you can overheat the system. the system can take quite a bit of spinning fronts before it overheats: some folks like to spin donuts w/ the fronts spinning and the rears pushing the vehicle in circles. so, for best results w/ the 4WD, spin the fronts a little to get the rears engaged, but not so much that the system overheats. i write all this so that you know you have to be a little aggressive in order to get any benefit. if you try to avoid any wheel spin at all the rears will never engage, and you'll wonder what happened to the 4WD your bought. of course, if you drive so smoothly that the FWD gets you where you want to go, then no problem. anyway, you'll develop the feel for it fairly quickly. and, if you do get stuck, switch off the VSA or whatever it's called. i don't have it on my vehicle. the VSA controls the vehicle w/ a combination of throttle reduction and brake application. when momentum is what you want/need, you don't want brakes applied.
What is the VSA?

As for overheating, is that much of a problem in the winter, especial w/snow most likely getting packed up on the rear differential, thus keeping it cold?


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VSA was introduced in the 2007 MY.
The vehicle stability assist (VSA) system helps to stabilize the vehicle during cornering if the vehicle turns more or less than desired. It also assists you in maintaining traction while accelerating on loose or slippery road surfaces. It does this by regulating the engine’s output and by selectively applying the brakes.
The Element is a great ski car.
 

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What is the VSA?

As for overheating, is that much of a problem in the winter, especial w/snow most likely getting packed up on the rear differential, thus keeping it cold?


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Yes...the outside temp. does not seem to help preventing slip overheating, but it may help in reseting the temp after the overheating.
The only time I have had overheat happen is a couple of times starting out in snow, from a stand still, and maybe I was high centered a little in the snow. It took about 10 mins to cool down. Shoveled a little snow out and off I go.
 

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During the first snow after getting my Element, I tried it, and my 97RAV4 (auto) on a nearby hill. I drove half way up, stopped, and then tried to continue. I couldn't get the RAV4 up; as the tires spun, it tended to slide toward the side of the road. I succeeded with the Element, by gently nursing the gas.

This RAV4 drives all wheels, with a viscous clutch that tightens when one set or other spins. (Manual transmission RAVs from the same period had a manually locking central differential). So in theory the RAV4 should have been better.

My guess is that the Element did better because it had more weight (same size tires). I may also have had it in 2nd gear. This is was before I was aware that the E's transmission does not down shift when set to '2', so I didn't pay attention to this issue. But this was a situation which required just the right amount of torque - enough to get the car moving, but not so much as to spin the wheels.
 
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