Do I need a 4×4 for winter? | AA Cars

As winter sets in, many people might start thinking about getting a 4×4.

Whether it’s a dedicated 4×4 with impressive off-roading ability, or just something that offers extra traction through a four-wheel-drive system, these models often prove popular in autumn and winter. 

But is it worth getting a 4×4, or should you just stick with your existing car? Let’s take a look. 

Do you need that extra off-roading ability?

If you live in a city centre or town centre, there’s a good chance that that extra off-roading ability might be wasted. In urban areas, the roads are often regularly gritted, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be far away from amenities – they might even be within a walkable distance.

However, if you live somewhere more rural, the roads could be more treacherous when poor weather strikes. If this is the case, it might be worth getting a 4×4. It’s worth noting that a front-wheel-drive car is far better in bad weather than a rear-driven onr, too.

Is getting to work a must in bad weather?

This year’s coronavirus pandemic has proven that many people can effectively work from home, rather than having to go into an office. 

So if you have the option of working from home, you might not need your car on bad weather days. Of course, this will depend on your job – if you’re a key worker, the extra off-roading ability could be more important. 

Should I just get winter tyres instead?

It’s a strange comparison to draw, but if your current car is front- or rear-wheel-drive and you want extra traction in snowy conditions, you could be better off choosing a good set of winter tyres over a 4×4.

Winter tyres, or cold weather tyres as they’re also known, are designed to offer greater grip in colder temperatures, and feature a different tread pattern to provide greater traction when things get slippery. 

It’s worth spending a bit extra on premium tyres and reading reviews to make sure you’re getting the best ones possible.

As for the price of winter tyres? Well, this will vary massively depending on the size of your car’s wheels and the brand you go for, but expect to pay between £150 and £200 for a good set of winter tyres on a car with 17-inch alloy wheels. 

Are 4x4s more expensive to run?

Put simply, a car with a four-wheel-drive system will cost more to run than the equivalent model without it – the system’s weight increases fuel consumption and also drives up CO2 emissions. 

These differences will always vary depending on the car, but take a Dacia Duster, for example. 

As standard, it doesn’t come with a four-wheel-drive system, so on the Blue dCi model it will return a claimed 57.7mpg, with CO2 emissions of 128g/km. However, if you want the 4×4 model, it will return 51.3mpg, and emit 147g/km of CO2. 

As well as impacting fuel costs, this makes the 4×4 version £40 more expensive in car tax (£215 per year). Those using it as a company car will pay £20 more each month (£105 per month) for the four-wheel-drive version thanks to its higher benefit-in-kind percentage, which is affected by CO2 emissions. 

How much do 4x4s cost to buy?

While a model with four-wheel-drive fitted will nearly always cost more than a model without it, there are still plenty of used 4x4s available for as little as £1,000. 

On a new car, it could cost as much as £2,000 to select 4×4 over front-wheel-drive, such as on the Dacia Duster, for example. So it’s definitely worth contemplating whether you really need a 4×4 before splashing the cash.

To search for used 4x4s, click here.

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