By on July 18, 2017

winter driving snowy road (public domain)

Quick now: Just how full is your refrigerator at this precise moment? I mean, it is kinda full, is it sorta full, is it totally full, is it almost empty, does it have the bachelor’s portion of beer and Cretaceous takeout? The reason I ask is because when I visit my more successful friends I’m simply bowled over by the amount of empty refrigerator space they have. Double and triple Northlands or Vikings with nothing in them. Deep stacks of empty shelves. Sometimes they have empty sections, doors behind which the air is chilled to 33 precise degrees but where nothing is stored.

My friends tell me that they need the space for the parties and gatherings they are going to have. I refrain from pointing out that in the modern suburban era nobody ever goes to anybody else’s house unless it is on pain of death/shunning/shaming. That gregarious age documented by Updike and Cheever is long gone. My friends won’t be hosts. Nobody’s coming to the parties that they won’t really have. All of that empty fridge space will always be empty. They spend most of their nights on “foodie adventures” anyway, spending massive amounts of money to avoid being trapped in their homes with only Netflix to fill the gaps in their meaningless conversations. And it’s only the two of them anyway, plus one designer baby after the wife turns 38 and panics.

I feel very virtuous, almost Spartan, because I only have a single-width Sub-Z from about 15 years ago. And my fridge is relatively full. But still there’s empty space. Sometimes Danger Girl goes through and tosses a half-ton of expired food. Still more fridge than we need. Compare that to the fridge at my grandmother’s house. She had four boys living in the house. Six people to my three. And her fridge was under six feet tall. With two cramped compartments. How did she do it, particularly given the fact that she cooked a real dinner, a real lunch, and a real breakfast every night? How did she survive on one-fifth the frosted space available to my DINK foodie friends?


This is my theory: I believe that when people are part of a true community, they purchase and equip their families based on their authentic and actual needs, with the belief that if things get out of hand they can go to their community at large for help. My grandparents knew all of their neighbors, knew their community leaders, helped people, were helped in return. They didn’t buy capacity they didn’t immediately need.

In the judgement-free Elysium of 2017, by contrast, we feel utterly disconnected from the real communities around us. We focus on online faux-communities where the slightest deviation from groupthink is punished by banishment. More and more of us live in cities where we neither know nor trust our neighbors. Even in the suburbs, our work schedules and helicopter parenting serve to disconnect us from community. And we each spend our money on extra capacity just in case. My grandmother knew that her neighbors would spot her a little fridge space for the parties that they did have on the weekends. I would no more let my neighbor store food in my refrigerator than I would let him give my child a bath. It’s better to have extra fridge space just in case.

Speaking of extra capacity, Sean writes:

I have a 2016 Mustang GT 6MT, the base model. I’ve accumulated 25,000 miles in 15 months of ownership by commuting 75 miles round trip to work. I drive the car year-round here in (way) upstate New York, conceding to the elements only the fitment of a set of Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8s from December to March. I grew up in northern Vermont, so I’ve driven across hilly country under heavy snow all my life, but even so there were approximately five workdays last winter when I felt justifiably concerned that I wouldn’t make it home at night. I’d say my chances on any given such night were about 10-20 percent of running into some serious inconvenience. Extrapolate forward four to six years and it’s a certainty — mathematical, meteorological, and metaphysical — that I will be stranded in a blizzard.

My options: (1) Do nothing, and concede this minor flaw within an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable Mustang Ownership Experience. (2) Further increase the snow-worthiness of the Mustang beyond mere Finnish-engineered snow tires. Maybe I can carry tire chains for when things get squishy? It’s also occurred to me to upgrade the clutch pack differential to the Torsen differential from the Track Package. My reasoning is unassailable on this point: Audi quattros and the AM General HMMWV had torsen diffs, so it stands that the Mustang would be infused with the same legendary snow-worthiness. (3) Expand the fleet. Everyone else in these parts has a 4×4 truck so why not use the right tool for the right job? Ancillary to this option are other benefits: reduced mileage and salt exposure for the Mustang, thereby allowing me to keep it for another year or two, and it’s always handy to have a truck around for home renovation projects and whatnot. The wife has a medium-sized SUV suitable for child- and dog-hauling duties, so a regular cab truck would be fine. Both garage spaces are occupied, so the truck would be relegated to the driveway. (4) Start paying attention to the weather channel and skip work on the days when transit could get iffy. This method obviously increases my risk of being fired.

I have the disposable income to afford option (3), to the tune of $10k-$20k, but it would lessen my family’s ability to travel and engage in other amusements more worthwhile than truck ownership. Am I crazy for considering it?

Ooh, this is a good one, because it gets right to the heart of all these concerns about capability and capacity and social trust networks and whatnot. Let’s start with the point that many of the B&B have already made in their own heads: It is patently insane to spend ten grand-plus more every year in maintenance and insurance just against the one day every four to six years where you’re not going to make it home in the Mustang. I’m pretty sure every tow truck company in your area has all-weather-capable vehicles that will drive you anywhere you want for a dollar a mile and even bring your Mustang along for the ride.

Alternately, you could strike a deal with somebody you know who has a winterized Jeep to the effect that they will come get you from work for five hundred bucks. This was a service I used to provide for free back when I owned a series of Land Rovers. The world is full of people who will come get you for serious money.

The emotional problem with this is that it puts the eventual resolution of the problem into someone else’s hands, which can be unpleasant to consider in the abstract. Still. That’s my advice regarding bad weather. Put a thousand bucks in the glove compartment of the Mustang. That will solve any problem you might have.

Ah, but there are other uses for the truck. Extra capacity. To do trucky things. Plus there’s the undeniable fact that your Mustang will last longer if you don’t salt the undercarriage fifty times a year. I think that these are better reasons to have a truck. So this is my advice: Get the minimum viable product, as software developers like to say, for these purposes. I’m thinking a Ford Ranger 4×4 SuperCab from a southern state. The Regular Cab is nice in theory but in practice most of the ones you find will have led a tough life. Spend no more than seven or eight thousand dollars on it and resist the temptation to fix or improve every little thing on it. Run it into the ground over a decade. Give the Mustang a break.

And now that you have a truck, start being the helpful “guy with a truck” to your friends and neighbors. Use this as a tool to get to know people better. I’ve resolved to do the same with my neighbors, some of whom are utter ciphers to me. If they need help hauling something, I’m going to use my truck to help them. Who knows? Maybe some day we will manage to coalesce an authentic social circle. Might have a few grown-up parties with button-front shirts or something crazy like that. It could totally happen.

I should get a bigger fridge, just in case.

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69 Comments on “Ask Jack: Mustang Salty!...”


  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    The big argument against pickups in the winter is that even a 4wd one will be inherently less stable on slick roads due to the unloaded rear end and poor weight distribution, tall center of gravity, and stiff/bouncy suspension that gets more upset over things like expansion joints (which conveniently are right before an iced over bridge). Many are also limited to part time transfer cases (newer mid/high trim domestics have viscous coupling based “auto” modes however).

    If a cheap winter beater for commuting is the priority, I’d steer you right to something like a gen 1 or 2 CRV, 1st gen Rav4 (fantastic fulltime 50/50 AWD on the 5spds), or even a Forester that’s got paperwork confirming the headgaskets have been done. Maybe even something like a B5 A4 Quattro with the old 2.8L 12 valve motor and a stick shift. They’re damn near impervious to rust and are awesome in the snow, will run rings around SUVs/trucks as long as the snow isn’t like 2+ feet deep.

    But if you want a truck for hauling utility, it’s hard to argue against that (I have an old Ranger, albeit a RWD one, myself).

    Whatever winter ride you choose, visit your local Krown-vendor and have them go to town. Or if that’s not available, I highly recommend dousing the bottom of the car with Fluid Film, including inside the frame (they sell special long-reach multi-directional wand attachments).

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      If the guy can get around on winter tires in a Mustang then I assume he would be unstoppable with FWD and winter tires. Why not get “the minimum viable product” like a $2000 econobox?

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      You are correct, an unloaded pick up in the snow is no bueno. I solved this problem with my 2wd truck many times during a heavy snow storm with a snow shovel and about ten minutes.

      Upstate NY snow is wet and heavy, a reasonably fit guy could shovel 500 lbs in less than ten minutes. He drives a Mustang as a DD, so it stands to reason he is fit as they are low to ground and fat people dont really like to get up off the ground that often.

      Baruth is accurate with his recommendation for a ranger

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        I solved it by putting winter tires on a 4×4 Ranger. ‘course, that’s my only 4-wheeled vehicle at this time. When I also had a Mustang alongside it, the ‘stang never saw snow or wet, salty roads.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Even with snow tires, my 4Runner is inherently less stable/confident on the highway at speed than my previous MPV 4wd was. The Mazda had a longer wheelbase, smoother ride, and an unlocked-center diff mode in the 4wd system. 4wd/snow tires are a crutch for a platform inherently non-optimized IMO. Mind you I’m just getting into semantics at this point. But yes I preferred my FWD ES300 beater on snow tires over my 4WD 4Runner on snow tires for slick higher speed driving.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            “an unloaded pick up in the snow”

            That is the pervasive myth of pickup ownership, we all spend 99% of our time hauling air. If one drives anything in the winter you should have equipment and supplies for the job.

            I have a galvanized steel toolbox that has been in the back of *every* pickup I’ve ever owned. The empty box weighs over 150 lbs. Add chains, tow straps, jackall, tools, winter survival gear etc. and I’m at 350-500 lbs depending on where I plan on travelling.

            I had a reg cab Ranger 4×4 for 6 years. The mud terrain tires I had on it sucked in the winter but appropriate winter rubber made the thing okay. The extended cab Ranger I owned was vastly superior to the reg cab due to the extra wheel base and cab weight. If you look at a compact truck for winter, stay away from regular cabs. The extra cash for the extended cab is worth it. It gives you extra space for gear in the cab and you did mention dog hauling duties. You don’t want to crate your dog in the box in cold weather unless you own Huskies.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Same Lou, and when I’m in the mountains…rifle, chainsaw and more. Load that puppy up. Never know.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            “That is the pervasive myth of pickup ownership”

            I mean among the trucks parked here at the office (of which there are more than a few), they almost universally have empty beds, or like you state, a toolbox. This leaves them with a much less favorable weight distribution than an SUV on the same platform. On top of that, something like an older Ranger has an especially stiff/bouncy ride that does a fairly poor job of handling road irregularities, leading to instability and encouraging loss of traction in slick conditions (especially when coupled to a shorter wheelbase). My 4Runner is the exact same way. If safe winter on-road driving is the focus (with considerations of utility and hauling needs excepted), a better handling car/crossover/van with a lower center of gravity on snow tires is easily the better driving option, full stop. I say this as someone who ones 2 BOF truck-type vehicles (Ranger and 4Runner). My ES300 on snow tires blew both away for daily commuting duty in the winter.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      My answer would be to move away from the crappy part of a state with strong public sector unions and bad taxes that only serve those lazy government employees. Go to a better state with less snow like Tennessee, Georgia or Texas. Unless he is a government employee himself. But he is worried about being fired, so I doubt it.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Buy a used, capable snowmobile (or two), perfect it (or them) mechanically, and store it (them) somewhere near the midpoint or 1/3 point between home and work for $200-$300/year in a farmer’s/property owner’s barn/pole-barn/other-enclosed storage space, along with deep cold weather outerwear, for the rare, true blizzard (predicted or unexpected).

    Sean can then walk to or get a ride to the snowmobile and cold-westher gear, after securing the Mustang during the 8″-20″ inch snowfall days/nights that will probably rarely happen, and have an because to engage in some arctic tread fun.

    He can maybe even make an adventure out of it, Jack London style, building fires, ice-fishing, eating chocolate and energy bars and beef/venison/squirrel/rabbit, and sleeping in a -50 degree certified snow tent or hand-fashioned igloo made of 2’x3′ squares of highly compressed snow.

    Also, hit the underside of the Mustang in the fall once a year with Fluid Film and hit the rear wheel wells with Amsoil Heavy Duty Metal Protector or CRC Marine Heavy Corrosion Inhibitor (do the frame rails, too, cover the brake rotors/pads with tied off plastic bags before spraying).

    Total’cost of fun + deep blizzard survival and mobility + stories to tell = 1 grand to 2 grand per machine plus cost of arctic-certified survival/cold weather gear and provisions.

  • avatar
    NoID

    Trade the ‘Stang in for a 2017 Challenger GT AWD. You’re welcome.

    OK, so a giant 8AT “Grand Tourer” with AWD isn’t exactly a drop-in replacement. But it’s an option…

    Me, I’d find an old Chevy Tracker or Suzuki Samurai to use as a winter beater. Or *gasp* just stay home on those days where you expect the roads to be too bad.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      Honestly, this is probably the best answer if OP can swing it. I’d love an AWD Chally.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        The Challenger GT is at a minimum a full second slower (even with AWD) than the Mustang GT and has all the handling prowess of a pregnant Yak processing a belly filled to bursting with Everclear.

        If the guy just likes to cruise wherever he goes and has no sporting intentions the Challenger GT would be a good fit but outside of that its not much of “sports car” at all.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    When I moved to Chicago, my wife and I made the decision to purchase a 3rd car. I have a 911 with summer tires and my wife drove a BMW convertible. the 911 is a 4S, so it has AWD, but I was not interested in the salt and there was still the summer tires. We went with a 1st gen Honda Pilot (2008). She works in a hospital and doesn’t get snow days. We also decided on an SUV as a dog hauler and road trip car and it was the right size for us. It’s loaded with nav and everything. I plan to drive it until the wheels fall off, which is also why we went Honda, even though the Pilot has NEVER been my favorite car.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    I submit that a big part of people buying capacity that they do not need is that capacity is much more affordable and accessible now than it was in the past.

    My grandma was middle-class and had a small house with a small refrigerator, a single B&W TV, and one car in the driveway. This was not by choice.

    She would certainly have preferred a larger house with a big fridge and multiple TVs and vehicles. That material quality of life was simply not available to people in her income bracket then.

    Had she been able to afford it she would have been happy to buy it.

    We are fortunate to live in a time and place where almost everybody gets to enjoy material abundance beyond that which previous generations could have even imagined.

    • 0 avatar
      thalter

      You bring up a good point, and I don’t think the direction of the causal relationship is clear. It the breakdown in social fabric leading to accumulation of over capacity, as Jack suggests, or is the abundance of affordable capacity leading to the social disconnectedness as you suggest?

      I think it is a little of both, and they kind of feed each other in a vicious cycle.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam Hall

        I live in a neighborhood where everyone has plenty of TVs, game consoles, computers, 2-3 cars and houses 2-3x the size of the ones their parents grew up in. We have a great community. People host block parties and pot-luck dinners, cookouts, playdates, pool parties. We have social media groups for the neighborhood and everyone is mere Kevin Bacon degrees of separation from everyone else. This goes for both the double-income and single-income households (of which we have a disproportionate number due to the generally high incomes in our area)

        It’s all what you make of it. You can sit in your house and argue on the innerwebz, or you can take a leap and invite your neighbors over for beer and burgers on the deck. You’ll be surprised how much fun you’ll have.

        • 0 avatar
          dividebytube

          This – we’ve thrown two parties at our house and have attended several others in the neighborhood. My neighbors are great – a smattering of teachers, engineers, and computer programmers. We even have a nearby pool (membership only) that is run by neighbors. It’s a place where we gather for family movie nights, big parties, and, of course, swimming.

          Also every street has a block party – where the local fire department comes with their trucks so the kids can check it out.

        • 0 avatar
          bobmaxed

          Congratulations Sam and DBT
          Sounds like a great neighbor hood. My suburban community is as bad as the one Jack describes. How is it that people with huge houses and huge garages have to park their vehicles in the driveway. I’m thankful for the one neighbor who I know on a first name basis. New people move in and I go introduce themselves. But all the people there helping them move are local, or relatives or old friends and the new neighbor doesn’t have time to make new friends.

          • 0 avatar
            zamoti

            I’m in the same boat as Bob. Been in this neighborhood for six years and most of the neighbors are already part of their facebook circle of friends. I’ve gone out of my way to at least kind of know anyone within two houses. The most interesting part is finding out that people who live right next to each other have never spoken.
            Jack points out a very sad truth for a lot of us; I’m envious of people I know that enjoy their neighbors and have occasional events together or even let their kids play together. My sons play with ONE girl in the neighborhood and there are no lack of kids nor attempts to spend time with the others.
            The only good thing is that I’m moving to a new neighborhood in about two weeks. New house has a pool. If I can’t get the current neighbors to talk to me, maybe I can bribe the new ones with the lure of swimming. Only time will tell.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I don’t think there’s any causality between accumulation and the breakdown in social fabric. The breakdown comes from the fact that people have much more choice in where they live and who they associate with. People with means are much more able to “curate” their lives, and they do.

        This is hardly a new concept; segregation used to be codified US law, and exclusionary/curated social entities like country clubs are literally deemed “old money”. The only thing older is the notion that things every generation has done or wanted forever is a new phenomenon created by *this* one.

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          Please explain further “breakdown in social fabric”.

          As far as I can tell the phrase is meaningless, as every generation for which we have records has complained that society was breaking down when in fact it was simply changing.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “Please explain further “breakdown in social fabric”.”

            it means “things aren’t the way I inaccurately remember them being when I was a kid.”

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      bike – you hit the nail on the head. We often look back at past generations as being more virtuous, but they behaved that way because they often had no choice. Yes people were more social with their neighbors, but that was what they did for entertainment before the advent of TV, the Internet, or other activities that people have available and/or can afford today. We have more choices that ever today, and the fact that some people make the “wrong” choices according to the preferences of others is one of the big reasons for the big political divide we are seeing.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        One need only look at how the size of homes has changed. Levittown, the prototype for suburban developments in the USA had homes ranging from about 800 to just over 1,000 sq feet. The same with the original planned communities in Canada such as Don Mills.

        Generally 3 bedrooms, with 1 bathroom, a kitchen and combined living/dining room.

        Our family had 3 sons. Grew up in the type of home described above, which comprised nearly every home in our subdivision.

        My father grew up as 1 of 7 children. They felt lucky when they moved into a new 2 bedroom bungalow. Parents in 1 bedroom, daughters in another, sons in a partially finished room in the basement.

        Now those living in the suburbs or ex-burbs expect that each child will have their own bedroom and possibly their own bathroom. The ‘parents’ will have a massive ensuite and perhaps a separate sitting area.That Dad will have his ‘mancave’. That there be a designer kitchen for as JB states ‘all those non-existent dinner parties’. And of course that there will be a large attached garage.

        Part of this is due to the pervasive nature of television, which was intended not to entertain but to inculcate a consumer culture. People aspired to the lifestyles depicted by the Cleavers, Brady’s, Petries, the Stephens etc. Even the Bundy’s lived in a larger home. The homes depicted by the likes of the Kramdens and later the Conners were derided, yet more accurately reflected real life.

        As for the OP. Well isn’t this case the exact reason why SUV’s and Subarus exist?

        Acquiring a cheap 4×4, extended cab Ranger is a good idea, with 2 caveats. First their crash structure/protection is ludicrously bad. Secondly in Canada and probably in most northern U.S. states they are either beat to a pulp or exorbitantly expensive.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          yep. I grew up in a 900 sq.ft. house as one of two kids. My dad was one of four kids, and grew up in an 850 sq. ft. bungalow.

          today, so many of my co-workers feel compelled to buy a 2,500-3,000 sq.ft. sh**tily-built wannabe McMansion with enough room for their two giant SUVs, all for their 1 or 2 kids.

          and of course, they live an hour away from where they work and constantly b!tch about how much time they spend in traffic.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            But a lot of us millennials (I’m barely young enough to be one) instead of moving en masse out to the far-flung burbs for a big house, are moving to close-in suburbs and rehabbing those old bungalows. We get a bit more space than the downtown condos, but not so much it’s a burden, and we are still in semi-walkable areas with reasonable commutes. My 3/3 split level was built in 1959 and the only substantial non-superficial change made since that time was a full bathroom with shower stall in the basement to take the burden off of the 1.5 original bathrooms. I’ve got 1200 sq ft (plus a 500sq ft English basement) and each of the 2 kids I have get their own room. There’s not a lot of superfluous space which means not a lot of extra maintenance, stuff, etc. Frankly, it’s perfect.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Yep. I have lived in and visited many rural areas where people routinely stop and help strangers, especially on rural roads. It is a nice culture, but, perhaps cynically, I believe it developed mostly from self-interest. When you need other people, you help other people. The next person stranded may be you.

        As for the car choice, I think he should buy tire chains, gloves, a good sleeping bag, some water and a shovel. Keep your tank full and cell phone charged.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      I grew up in a small place, a trailer. There was just 4 of us and a dog. As my brother and I grew, my mom went shopping every week.

      I must say, a refrigerator is an interesting metaphor for a pickup.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I have a similar issue. I live in a place it snows, and my one and only vehicles is a EB Mustang. I do have the luxury of retirement. However sometimes I need to get somewhere regardless of weather. Michelin X winter tires, a soaking with Krown, Weather Tech mats, and a gentle foot. I’ve made it through 2 winters.

    I’ve given serious thought to the “buying a truck ” option…The initial cost, I can live with . As JB points out, its the other ongoing other expenses that need to be considered.

    I figure if i really need to get somewhere in bad weather, or really need a truck for a job..I’ll rent it.

  • avatar
    brenschluss

    Torsen.

  • avatar
    AK

    On the handful of days that travel is truly not an option due to weather, take the day off or get a taxi.

    So basically, option number 1.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I live in Michigan, close enough to Lake Michigan to get lake effect snow. For two years I drove a RWD 2004 BMW 325i with Blizzak snow tires – and never had an issue getting stuck/stranded. And that includes driving a unplowed country road near my parents old house – in the middle of a blizzard. Only issue I had there was snow getting high into the suspension, effecting the ride.

    The nannies – traction and stability control – were busy keeping the car straight but, once you got used to the sensation and learned to trust the car, it was great in the winter.

    Of course my beater Toyota T100 (with snow tires and 4X4) was the champ, but even that got squirrely when going over highway bridges that had been iced over. Of course that truck had no ABS, TC, or stability control.

  • avatar
    Boff

    Faced the exact same dilemma as the OP, except that my Mustang does have the Torsen diff. I decided to get a TJ Wrangler for winter duty, which to me is more than your average winter beater because they are just plain fun to own and I can get my roof-off (and doors-off) kicks in the summer months to boot. The Jeep is amazing at not getting stuck, but with no ABS, no stability control, and crummy off-road tires, it requires extreme care to drive on slippery roads. This winter, I’m installing true winter tires on the beast…

  • avatar
    Sloomis

    “it’s only the two of them anyway”

    Why the hell would you live in the suburbs if you don’t have kids?

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Why the hell would you live in the suburbs if you don’t have kids?”

      because I don’t want to live in a dense, crowded, noisy sh**hole.

      I’m single with no kids and none in the plan, and there’s no way in hell I’d want to live in a big city.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      I agree, there’s too many nosy control-freak neighbors in the suburbs. If you don’t have kids that need playmates or a neighborhood pool go live out in the country where there’s nobody else to bother you.

      That’s where I’m going if I ever retire. That or live out of an RV.

      • 0 avatar
        Sloomis

        City or country both appeal to me. Suburbs strike me as a sad compromise inbetween with the disadvantages of both and the advantages of neither. I say this as a suburb dweller myself.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          good for you. no need to act so incredulous that other people might not feel the same as you.

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          I won’t ever have kids, but live in the suburbs because they offer the space of the country and convenience of the city.

          In the ‘burbs I can have a 3 car garage with space for projects and a workshop, and be less than a 10 minute ride from all the restaurants and attractions I like in the city.

          I don’t want to live in an urban core, because I want space for multiple cars without having to put them in a parking deck or on the street like an animal.

          I don’t want to live in the country because I don’t want to be more than 15 minutes away from Indian food.

          Suburbs are just right.

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    Umm, the Ranger has open diffs all around, doesn’t it? That won’t help much.
    I’ve recently installed a torsen (Quaife ATB, to be full anorak, as Torsen(tm) is trademarked by the Quattro GmbH) in my Z4 and it changed my outlook on life. Forget a small 4×4, get the locker.

    Alternatively, get a ’69 Jeep Wagoneer (the utilitarian model before Jeep turned it into a sort-of-SUV) and roll around in style, leave puddles of rusty water where you park, you know… get a set of spare points and a ditributor cap too while you’re at it.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Shortest Circuit – nope. You can find plenty of 4×4 Ranger’s with limited slip rear diffs. It would be pretty dumb to own any pickup that has an open rear diff. A locking or limited slip front diff would get most drivers into a sh!t load of trouble.

  • avatar
    gkhize

    I’ve driven almost nothing but Mustang GTs to and from work in the winter here in Iowa dating back to my ’86. I even drove an ’03 Cobra convertible in a snowstorm when my regular ride was down for repair. I’ve never had anything but all season tires on the cars and get around fine. My response to frequent questions about why I “drive that thing in the winter” is that you have to know your limits. This includes slowing down to avoid coming to a complete stop at stop lights, taking the ‘flat route’ to avoid steep hills even if it’s further, and simply keeping my foot out of the gas. The other rule to live by is what AK mentioned above; if it’s too bad just stay home.

    Now the caveat to all of this is that I do have the luxury of having the ‘wife’s car’, an AWD GMC Yukon in the garage as well. I don’t get to use it much because she’s always off somewhere with it, but on those stay home days I can at least get out for some milk and bread.

    The milk of course will go into a fridge crammed full of month old leftovers, mysterious jars of possible nuclear waste, and absolutely nothing we are interested in eating. Lacking the requisite fridge space for company, our prospects for an active social live appear to be slim indeed.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “I’ve driven almost nothing but Mustang GTs to and from work in the winter here in Iowa”

      But the difference is Iowa. I grew up in New England, and was perfectly content to drive my S2000 year round here in Chicagoland when I first bought it and couldn’t afford a second car (but could afford good rubber). The reason was, in the midwest we drive in two dimensions. In New England and upstate New York they have three, elevation being much more difficult to contend with than the other two. A key variable that us in the flatlands don’t always consider. The wide open flatlands in a blizzard are nothing compared to a narrow, winding, hilly back road in even a small amount of snow in New England.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam Hell Jr

        Credited, and to say nothing of how much easier flatlands are to plow. I’ve lived in Great Lakes winters all my life, and the only time I felt outmatched by winter driving (in a newer FWD sedan on very good all-seasons) was an ice storm in Cincinnati.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Each area has different hazards. Winds on the “flatlands” can polish up a road and even push a vehicle off of the road. There are some “flatlands” where I live with farm country on both sides with perfectly straight stretches of road which are notorious for accidents.
        New England I surmise would be bad for wetter and heavier snow.

      • 0 avatar
        gkhize

        The challenges of driving in 3 dimensions is certainly a valid point, but defining Iowa as the ‘flatlands’ is hardly accurate once you get away from the glacier-flattened northern counties. While certainly not mountainous, the rolling plains do provide their share of altitude changing challenges. As far as our blizzards go you are probably right that driving in the northeast would be more of a driving challenge simply because we don’t drive when we can’t even see the leading edge of our car’s hood.

        All joshing aside, you are correct that every area plagued by winter weather has it’s challenges; which explains the increased traffic congestion in places like Phoenix and southern Texas beginning every November.

      • 0 avatar
        tooloud10

        I live in NE Iowa where it’s very far from being the flatlands, and I’ve never had any problems with RWD and winter tires. I almost get the impression that many think that comfortable winter driving means that they don’t have to be more cautious, or slow down, or prepare for stops better than in the summer.

  • avatar
    mikein541

    The first five paragraphs of this essay are brilliant!

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Cheap winter beater with winter tires all round. Tires are more important than FWD or AWD. Pay for inspection before purchase. During ownership, fix only what’s critical for safe operation.

    It doesn’t sound like the Mustang is anything special. Therefore, no need to preserve it. It would be different if it were a rare, highly desirable model or one that a middle-aged guy always wanted and plans to keep for the rest of his life.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      Cheap but not too cheap. Call them nannies if you will, but give modern traction and stability control some decent rubber to play with and they can work miracles.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I don’t miss the snow one bit .

    Skinny tires were always better in snow when I was young .

    Agreed about the house and refri ~ my house is 1158 S.F. and since my Son left the back bedroom is storage, I hope to make it my office some day .

    My refri is tiny, maybe 5’10” and usually close to empty .

    Apart from tools and spares I see no need to consume excessively .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Great piece of writing , deserves my click. I’ve had 2 supercharged BMWs, 6mt g37s, for KC winters. One thing that should be mentioned is that 70lbs sand bag in the trunk makes a huge difference for snow starts on hills. I have a job without snow days and have driven on unplowed KC MO roads(their plow budget is nonexistent) without issue.
    This does nothing to aid utility though, that no current gen . Stang will provide.
    I vote Subaru Forester or Mitsubishi Outlander, both have proven reliability and more than 8 inches of ground clearance, the 1st of which is available in a 6mt, but likely impossible to find on the used market.

  • avatar
    Driver8

    Stud the Nokians. Brave the salt. It’s a base , not a GT350R.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Obviously, find one of the incredibly rare Ferguson Formula Mustangs from the 60s (the 4WD prototypes), and daily a virtually priceless classic. Barring that, what’s the availability of hotels near your work? A change of clothes in the trunk, and planning to spend a few hundred bucks and one night not at home every five years or so is easier and cheaper than buying a whole second vehicle (unless this is a veiled excuse to get the truck, in which case, have fun).

    Also, make of this what you will, but I find it interesting that a crowd that’s generally pretty big on self-reliance and personal responsibility is also really amenable to a treatise on the value of community.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    While I’d prefer a Torsen, I don’t think it will provide any benefit in terms of keeping you moving. The car simply needs to be able to spin both wheels on command. If the clutch-type LSD is set up so weak that it can’t do that on snow and ice, then it would be functionally useless on pavement. I’m going to assume it isn’t designed that poorly.

    But if it is a bit weak, I’d start by changing the diff fluid (overdue if it hasn’t been done yet anyway) with something that has no friction modifiers – like Redline 75W-90 NS – and incrementally add only as much additive as needed to eliminate chatter on dry surfaces. If you ever have a situation where only one wheel is spinning after doing that, then it truly is useless as an LSD.

    Clutch-type LSDs can even be advantageous to Torsens if you’re stuck on a really slippery surface. With a Torsen, if there’s no traction on one wheel, then there won’t be enough torque available to multiply it to a useful amount on the other wheel. But that would only happen with studded Hakka 8s if you’re hung up with a wheel in the air or barely touching the ground, and traction control may be able to help resolve that situation. It’s an unusual situation where traction control can actually help rather than hinder the freeing of a stuck vehicle.

    On the other hand, a Torsen might have better driveability at speed. It has more progressive power delivery between the two wheels so if you’re finding that the clutches are so stiff that the back end kicks out too suddenly you might want to tone that down with a friction-modified gear oil and/or additional LSD additive to the point where you’d just be better off with a Torsen in all situations.

    If you can fit chains, then you didn’t go tall enough on your tire choice. Next time, try to get tallest tire with the most sidewall that you can practically fit on the vehicle. When you already have a good set of factory-studded winter tires, you’re only going to be getting stuck if you get completely hung up, so chains aren’t going to benefit you like a bit of extra ground clearance.

    How narrow you’re willing to go with tires depends on how much dry performance you’re willing to sacrifice for ultimate winter performance. Driving conservatively on a narrow set during the good times certainly will feel like it’s worth it whenever you’re in serious winter conditions.

    Anyway, I applaud your decision to use serious tires to make a fun car functional for winter. But there is more driving pleasure available if you’re willing to own a second vehicle. Anything with real AWD/4WD and a manual transmission will be much more fun in winter conditions than the Mustang, just as the Mustang is in comparison to those vehicles during summer.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      I do not have permission to edit comments, so I’ll add the “and equally serious tires” caveat to my final statement about AWD/4WD vehicles here.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy67

      Great post–thanks for the info.

      re: “… if you’re finding that the clutches are so stiff that the back end kicks out too suddenly you might want to tone that down with a friction-modified gear oil and/or additional LSD additive …”

      I have a hard time keeping my 2008 GT (Bullitt Edition)’s backend where it belongs. I always attributed that to (reasonably) high HP and torque–315 and 330 respectively–and a light back half to the car. You’re saying the LSD contributes/causes that?*

      * This is my first vehicle with LSD; still learning the nuances.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        I’m sure it’s possible to get plenty sideways even without a LSD on a car like that, but a stiff LSD will make it happen more easily and more suddenly. It does appear from a quick search that your Bullitt has a clutch-type LSD.

        The tightness of the LSD is primarily a factor when cornering. If you have both wheels loaded perfectly evenly with equal traction, it will behave no differently than an open differential.

        When you’re cornering and the outside tire is loaded, applying excessive throttle with an open differential will first light up the more lightly loaded inside tire. The outside tire that is responsible for most of the cornering grip at that point maintains traction. Good for stability, but not for acceleration out of the corner.

        Do you ever notice any inside rear wheel spin?

        A clutch-type LSD simply uses friction to try to keep both tires spinning at the same speed. The more friction, the more force is required for one wheel to slip without the other. Too much friction, and instead of allowing the inside wheel to spin a bit to let you know that you’re nearing the limits, they’ll both suddenly break loose at the same time.

        Differential tightness is a very important tuning element on race cars because it strongly influences the behavior of the car during corner exit. As with brake balance, F1 drivers are frequently adjusting their differentials during the race and even within laps.

        The biggest thing one can do to influence the way the tires break away is to squeeze the throttle when exiting corners. Not necessarily slowly once the driver is well-practiced at it, but always steadily and deliberately. With enough experience, you should be able to feel whether the inside tire is spinning more or less than you want before breakaway. A lot of it is personal preference.

        Most LSDs on street cars are pretty weak on the stock fluid, to be forgiving to the driver. Also because high friction would be very hard on the clutches during break-in.

        If your Bullitt has ever had the diff fluid changed using only a gear oil that isn’t specifically designed to not need further additives, then it probably will be very tight. The normal process is to replace the fluid, then add an ounce of friction modifier at a time if it chatters (a jerky feel and sound when cornering). Once the chatter is gone, then any more additive will just move it further toward behaving like an open differential. There are gear oils available from Redline and other manufacturers that already have the friction modifiers added, for those who have no interest in fine-tuning or know that they won’t want to start with a really tight differential; such as one that hasn’t been broken in yet. You could still modify the friction further from that point.

        If the fluid is already fresh, then add an ounce of friction modifier at a time until it’s where you’d like it. You won’t hurt anything. The slipperier it is, the easier it is on the clutches. If it’s not fresh fluid, then this is a great excuse for a change and a chance to tune it to your liking.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    My normal response would be you live in an area that gets winter and you don’t carry chains in a vehicle that you drive in the winter. However so many cars are not capable of being fitted with chains now. I’m betting the Mustang unless you downsized the tires is not capable of using chains.

    The Torsen will not be an improvement that you will notice, save your money to have the clutches replaced in a couple of years once they are worn out. Also spend some of that money to put a little weight in the trunk. With the traction control, limited slip, good tires and that extra 50-100 lbs in the trunk you’ll make it home 99.9% of the time and if that .1% does happen then it is time to phone a friend, tow truck or local hotel.

    Of course having that Ranger would be nice and useful for other things as well so I can’t say that isn’t a good idea since I certainly wouldn’t be caught dead w/o a pickup nor w/o 1 or 2 vehicles capable of driving all 4 wheels.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    30 years in Cleveland taught me there’s two kinds of winter mobility.
    Snow tires, fwd, etc covers most of it.
    But when the going is really tough, ground clearance is what it’s all about.

  • avatar
    Jeff Zekas

    We have parties in Oregon. And trucks & Subarus. And pot & lots of food in the fridge. And bonfires with music, pretty girls & laughing & singing.

  • avatar
    smokingclutch

    Yeah, maybe sad people in sad places hole themselves up and never have parties, but here in Southern California, my circle of friends has parties almost every weekend. It doesn’t hurt that a few of us have pools, jacuzzis, and lovely (if small) backyards to enjoy.

    I don’t spend time with my neighbors, but as someone above mentioned, I have a group of friends based on shared interests (festivals, music, food, craft beer, etc). We all live within 45 minutes of each other, and house parties are great because no one has to worry about how to get home, as most of us have space for guests to stay over if they want. I don’t have anything against my neighbors, but they’re either older folks that keep to themselves, or families with young kids. Nearly all my friends are in their 30s & 40s, all but one couple are kid-free.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    From what I’ve seen, excess freezer capacity is used to purchase food in bulk at a good price. The food then sits there for many months or years steadily becoming more freezer burnt, until eventually the freezer needs to be cleaned out to make room. The old food is thrown away and the cycle continues.


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