Just got a CPO 2017 GX460 Premium, and I'm an offroad newbie looking for advice. (1 Viewer)

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Jun 13, 2020
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While you were driving the second day did you lock your center diff lock? Compacted snow, now ice, did you air down?
I tried every combo I could think of. 4 high and low, center diff locked and not... 4 low unlocked worked very well the first day with the powdery snow. It seemed perfect and I got overconfident afterwards. Perhaps if I had locked it that day it could have been even better, but I had no issue so I didn't even try. Maybe it worked well because I was encountering a fair amount of friction from the bottom end "plowing" the soft snow? The flattened area in the pic is from my GX. No other vehicle had been through.

That's what kind of blew my mind about how it reacted the next day. It was night and day different in terms of how the GX reacted. So different in fact I thought the GX was malfunctioning or I had broken something. It was that bad. I can only surmise that the texture of the snow is what made the difference. The appearance of the snow didn't change much if at all. It didn't really melt or get that "thawed-then-refrozen" crust on it until a few days after the initial snowfall. But once it was compacted after the initial outing it was downright "greasy" under the wheels.

I should note that the place where I had the most trouble is this particular spot in the road leading up to the house which requires going up a bit of a hill and simultaneously a 90 degree turn while ascending. The rear of the GX would constantly be swinging out on me, and 4 low actually felt worse than 4 high. The increased torque of 4 low just felt like it was making me spin more easily. I did a manual version of 2nd start a few times, which had decent results but wasn't much better than just keeping it in 4 high unlocked and going "default". Once it started spinning I just wouldn't be able to recover and often would just start floating backward diagonally back down the hill. My main takeaway from it was that "snow" can mean a lot of different things and isn't some monolithic situation where how to react is a single prescription of tactics. The "state" of the snow is at least as important as the amount is what I came away from this with. And I grew up in rural upstate NY where I drove through a lot of snow and ice on dirt roads but it usually had been had been plowed by the county. This was different for me because of the sheer depth of it the snow, the fact there was zero dirt or salt mixed in, and me not having much 4x4 driving experience in general much less in my GX. Would an experienced driver have had better luck? No doubt. But my neighbors here (not city folks) all have 4x4's and everybody had a heck of a time with it. Maybe the wide AT tires are at a disadvantage in these conditions?

Anyway, my takeaway is that a set of tire chains might be a smart upgrade (if not further steps). Any good brand recommendations?

ETA: No, I didn't air down. Perhaps I should have.
 
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I tried every combo I could think of. 4 high and low, center diff locked and not... 4 low unlocked worked very well the first day with the powdery snow. It seemed perfect and I got overconfident afterwards. Perhaps if I had locked it that day it could have been even better, but I had no issue so I didn't even try. Maybe it worked well because I was encountering a fair amount of friction from the bottom end "plowing" the soft snow? The flattened area in the pic is from my GX. No other vehicle had been through.

That's what kind of blew my mind about how it reacted the next day. It was night and day different in terms of how the GX reacted. So different in fact I thought the GX was malfunctioning or I had broken something. It was that bad. I can only surmise that the texture of the snow is what made the difference. The appearance of the snow didn't change much if at all. It didn't really melt or get that "thawed-then-refrozen" crust on it until a few days after the initial snowfall. But once it was compacted after the initial outing it was downright "greasy" under the wheels.

I should note that the place where I had the most trouble is this particular spot in the road leading up to the house which requires going up a bit of a hill and simultaneously a 90 degree turn while ascending. The rear of the GX would constantly be swinging out on me, and 4 low actually felt worse than 4 high. The increased torque of 4 low just felt like it was making me spin more easily. I did a manual version of 2nd start a few times, which had decent results but wasn't much better than just keeping it in 4 high unlocked and going "default". Once it started spinning I just wouldn't be able to recover and often would just start floating backward diagonally back down the hill. My main takeaway from it was that "snow" can mean a lot of different things and isn't some monolithic situation where how to react is a single prescription of tactics. The "state" of the snow is at least as important as the amount is what I came away from this with. And I grew up in rural upstate NY where I drove through a lot of snow and ice on dirt roads but it usually had been had been plowed by the county. This was different for me because of the sheer depth of it the snow, the fact there was zero dirt or salt mixed in, and me not having much 4x4 driving experience in general much less in my GX. Would an experienced driver have had better luck? No doubt. But my neighbors here (not city folks) all have 4x4's and everybody had a heck of a time with it. Maybe the wide AT tires are at a disadvantage in these conditions?

Anyway, my takeaway is that a set of tire chains might be a smart upgrade (if not further steps). Any good brand recommendations?

ETA: No, I didn't air down. Perhaps I should have.

I run these chains, but generally good to go up to 2+ feetish.

 

r2m

Richard
Joined
Nov 1, 2007
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San Clemente, CA
We're about twenty minutes south of Gardnerville. I'd like to visit Winnemucca sometime though!
Ha-ha!!! I knew I recognized those hills! My Mom lived in Gardnerville and we have a place up in So. Lake Tahoe at State Line that we go to several times a year. In fact we'll be heading up there in a couple of weeks! We always come up the 395 (our favorite drive) and go up Kingbury grade after doing our "cheap" shopping at the Smiths in town.
 
Joined
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Bay Area, CA
Another update is with the Falken Wildpeaks. They are great until they aren't.
Now you have me worried with the low traction talk! We frequent the Sierras, often drive into storms to ski/snowboard, and I just picked up a set of 265/70/17 Falken WildPeak AT3s from a 4-Runner guy who took them off after a few weeks to go larger. Are your tires LT- Load Rating C? The ones we picked up are P-Metric and as I've read they have a softer formulation with more Silica content. I guess it will be trial by fire.
 

r2m

Richard
Joined
Nov 1, 2007
Messages
3,164
Location
San Clemente, CA
Now you have me worried with the low traction talk! We frequent the Sierras, often drive into storms to ski/snowboard, and I just picked up a set of 265/70/17 Falken WildPeak AT3s from a 4-Runner guy who took them off after a few weeks to go larger. Are your tires LT- Load Rating C? The ones we picked up are P-Metric and as I've read they have a softer formulation with more Silica content. I guess it will be trial by fire.
I understand your concern's. We too have a place in South Lake Tahoe and will be heading up there next week.
If you have an onboard compressor or even a carry-on, when you get into the white stuff, lower your tire pressure a little. It will allow for a slightly larger "foot print" on the road leading to better traction. Just don't lower the pressure below where the TPS will show up on the dash.
AND don't forget to "air-up" when heading back home!
 
Joined
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Messages
21
Location
Nevada
Now you have me worried with the low traction talk! We frequent the Sierras, often drive into storms to ski/snowboard, and I just picked up a set of 265/70/17 Falken WildPeak AT3s from a 4-Runner guy who took them off after a few weeks to go larger. Are your tires LT- Load Rating C? The ones we picked up are P-Metric and as I've read they have a softer formulation with more Silica content. I guess it will be trial by fire.
They're the C rating I believe. LT275 /70 R17 114S C1 BSW

Again, it's not a knock on these tires really. I'm guessing most every AT could have had similar trouble, and my lack of expertise likely compounded the problems. But at least in my experience on this particular occasion the effectiveness of the tires changed drastically as the snow changed character (more compressed, perhaps a bit more moisture content).
 
Joined
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Messages
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They're the C rating I believe. LT275 /70 R17 114S C1 BSW

Again, it's not a knock on these tires really. I'm guessing most every AT could have had similar trouble, and my lack of expertise likely compounded the problems. But at least in my experience on this particular occasion the effectiveness of the tires changed drastically as the snow changed character (more compressed, perhaps a bit more moisture content).
Thanks for the info. I grew up on snow and ice in Northern Minnesota and have lived in Scandinavia and Alaska so I feel pretty comfortable on snow but have typically had a set of snow tires in the past during the winter. Doing it in the GX on AT tires is a whole new thing for me. I'll report back with our impressions.

Now I'm having flashbacks to my first Driver's License driving test which happened on an icy day in February just after my 17th birthday. Ancient Audi Fox, front wheel drive, cheap all season tires. Somehow I passed. Man was I crappy driver then.
 

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