Strictly ornamental

The most pointless object in the world is a two-wheel drive truck.

As I pulled into the unplowed parking lot of the park where I was going to take the family sledding, we saw a guy in an older Ford mid-size SUV, one of the truckish-looking ones, like a Bronco.  He was spinning his wheels, trying to get out of the parking lot and back on the highway.

I swung my wagon around and parked, having little trouble with the sodden six-inch mix of snow, ice, sleet, and slush that is currently coating our neck of the woods.  We got out and wandered around the frozen pond for a little while, and then came back. The truck was still spinning it’s wheels.

I went over to lend assistance.  Eventually, by digging away banked snow he was hung up on and improving his traction with some wood under the tires, I helped him break free.

He swore he had in four-wheel drive, but I can state for a fact that only two of his wheels were spinning.

Then again, it was a Ford.  Maybe they think “4×4” means “comes complete with four wheels”.

One of my favorite parts of winter is that it gives me a reason every year to feel smug about having insisted on an all-wheel drive car.  Now I can actually say my Subaru wagon drives circles around a Ford truck.

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  1. Hahahah, probably something busted in the transfer case I guess. They certainly live up to their name of Found On Road Dead!

  2. 2 things

    Most vehicles sold for the “civilian” market are NOT limited slip differential. SO whichever wheel has the least traction on an axle will spin. That means if one side of the truck is on glare ice while the other side is on dry pavement the icy side will just sit and spin and go nowhere.

    One tire per axle will move -period. And it’s the whichever one spins FIRST.

    (there is a trick to get around this and that is to gently ride the brakes while idling and it works kind of like a limited-slip up to walking speeds but isn’t great)

    Also, non-mechanical hub-locking devices that are “shift on the fly” or electric don’t work very well at all. Often they only work going forwards and have issues when it gets cold. Really -it sounds stupid but they have issues with the lockers when they are colder than freezing and they just don’t pull in! As 4×4 vehicles get older this gets worse. Most so-called 4WD systems suck unless they have external hub lockers and are installed with limited-slip differentials.

    This does NOT apply to the All-wheel drive systems employed on some jeep vehicles and all Subarus. Those are very good systems although they suck POWER and gas and can be easily damaged if towed improperly or even not maintained correctly. The jeep AWD is not as durable in the extreme tough stuff as the good locker axles but are not bad.

    The down side of real limited-slip differential is they drive like ass on dry pavement. They just don’t want to TURN and since the rear axle is always on even in 2WD it is always an issue. You can tell a serious off-road vehicle by the black marks it makes on the pavement when it does a tight turn in a parking lot or a U-turn and the squealing sound.

    But yeah, most 4×4’s suck.

    1. Re: 2 things

      Interesting, and very informative.

  3. “The most pointless object in the world is a two-wheel drive truck.”

    They’re less practical in the snow than a 4-wheel drive, but there is a reason. 2-wheel drive trucks usually have higher towing capacities.

  4. Maybe he did but he was just to dumb to turn it on. In many vehicles the four wheel drive can be turned off. Where’d you go sledding?

  5. I feel the same way about Gregg’s stupid truck. Every time I drive it in even mildly unpleasant weather (light drizzle) I have the worst time handling it. Gregg says “You just aren’t driving it right, and it drives better if it has weight in the back.”

    Uh huh. I’ll just drive my AWD CRV, thanks.

    1. Well he’s right about the weight, anyway. I was telling Stacey about that yesterday… with a pickup, sometimes you need to toss some cinder blocks in the back just for the traction, even if you don’t need to haul them anywhere.

      Me, I love my wagon.

  6. See, when I read this at first, I read it as “The most pointless object in the world is a two-wheeled dump truck.”

    And I was inclined to agree with you, but moreover be surprised that such a thing existed and that you’d seen one and also had the opportunity to interact with it in such a way that you’d write about it.


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