Finally decided to buy a new car

I have a very, very old car… and have had it for 19 years (it’s older than that- but, it’s a classic car … so, I love it.)

I’ve moved to a WINTER SNOWY area… and have to commute 15 miles ONE WAY to work… in other countries that I’ve lived- it either didn’t snow… or I lived close enough that I could walk to work-- no more.

SO, I finally decided that I need a new car-- our USA car sales are quite limited here… (a small place on the military base and only certain models/styles are available)

SO, what I’m going to get is either a: JEEP COMPASS or a JEEP PATRIOT (I have a narrow opening to my garage and nothing else will fit and these 2 models will only give me about 12 inches (or less) on either side as it is.)

DOES anyone have any knowledge of these cars? I can only get a front wheel model now-- if I want a 4wd … I have to wait until the middle or end of Nov to all the way to the first week of DEC… (2 different shipments will arrive to Germany on those dates)

… apparently the Germans are really good about clearing the roads of snow- but, I’ve never, ever driven on snow. DOES IT REALLY make a difference… 4wd vs front wheel drive and snow tires?

I want to be safe- but, apparently snows can arrive in November here too. I’d appreciate any advice that you can give me.

4 wheel drive is very helpful for getting out of snow, mud, etc., and adds to your stability and traction on rough terrain. It does not help much with traction on ice or other slippery surfaces.

That said, all my cars have had 4 wheel or all wheel drive. It makes it so much easier to get out of a deeply piled parking space on a snowy morning, and I don’t fishtail going through deep puddles.

Since you will only be driving on well-plowed roads, 4WD may not be essential. But if you haven’t driven in snow before, I think you may feel more secure with it.

Under any circumstances, drive more slowly in snowy weather and steer gradually; try not to make any sudden moves with your wheel.

Front wheel drive may be fine. I live in an area that gets snow every winter. Most people do just fine with front wheel drive. I like all wheel drive, but I live in the country and we don’t get plowed regularly. I notice in town that the cars that tend to get stuck at intersections are the 4 wheel drive SUV’s. We have to go around them while they sit and spin wheels. 4 wheel drive is best on snowy roads. Good tires and ABS brakes are more important for icy conditions.

Thanks all… and another problem… is both car choices are wider than my current car… and the INSIDE of my GERMAN garage is very narrow… I can’t even open my door wide enough to ‘well’… just open it. I can open it part way and then … the wall and I do a dance while I shimmy out of the car on the side of my car.

Keep in mind… either new car will be wider than my current car and will cause even less available space inside the garage to open my door- much less … less space available to drive through the metal doorway of the garage.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experiences… this can be a VERY SNOWY place… always snows… but, can be really bad they said… apparently when I asked people about it-- the past 2 years have been unusually mild winters here… the locals are thinking bad winter this year-- because of the way that the temps have already dropped. SIGH… 15 miles to work… is just too far to walk on a snowy day. :roflhard: OH, and in GERMAN LAW… you have to clear your driveway, sidewalk, and the road in front of your house…

German car brands have a very good reputation in Europe, would it not be cheaper to buy a German car? You wont have any problems getting it serviced or getting replacement parts then if you need to…

I’m seconding Lucy, get a European car that is designed for European roads and conditions. Audis, VWs, BMWs and Mercedes are all noted for being extremely reliable, hvaning some wonderful enginges and very well enginered handling. It would be cheaper for you to buy than getting somthign imported and any maintainance would be easier.
In my limited experience a 4WD can make partially plowed or slick roads more difficult as there isn’t the grip there that you need for that sort of power transfer. The pull of a front wheel drive can be more effective. (as a side note, European cars tend to b smaller than US cars and may well fit your garage better)

The problem w/ buying a GERMAN made car… is that I wouldn’t be able to ‘export’ it back to the states or another military assignment overseas… (the govt will only ship US cars for me) and if I take it back to the states… you have to pay a lot for import taxes and get it to American specs/etc… Other foreign locations (that I’d work at/in) have agreements for bringing in USA spec type of cars… extra import tax doesn’t have to be paid/etc. For example: Lots of people in Korea bought ‘JUNKER’ type of Korean cars to drive for the 1-2 years that they lived there-- then, they’d re-sell them to other Americans before they moved… *[B]HOWEVER, those cars were sold for only $500.00 and were quite easy to re-sell.[/B]

Good plan- but, here there aren’t any ‘junker’ cars to buy… used cars are VERY EXPENSIVE… and truthfully… I already have a used car and if I’m going to ‘finally buy’ another car… I would feel much better knowing it’s a new car… and if I’m going to spend that much $ on a car-- I want one that I can ship back to the states/etc w/out any problems in the future- if I end up not living here for more than 4 years.

ALSO… I might not live here long enough— to buy a new car and then sell it before I moved away–(If I sold it- it would be at a loss… and that’s tricky to try to sell an expensive car… in just a couple of months-- that’s how much advance notice that we usually get if we are sent to a new location) I’d have to sell the German car before I moved-- if I bought a German car… and German cars are taxed 19%!!! *Ok, everything here is taxed that amount… but, that’s a lot of money when it’s a car!

There is a current jeep model that has a discount on it-- front wheel drive only… savings of about $3,000.00… but, I can buy snow tires and maybe get someone in the states send me some SNOW CHAINS that I could use if I needed them.

Thanks everyone for your help… I feel more comfortable w/ the front wheel drive choice… and I’ll just hope that it doesn’t snow a lot this year!! :wink:

Wow! I have lived in the midwest all my life and the idea of not having a car that drove well in the snow is just odd!
Whatever kind of car you get, just drive slow. And I would recommend if you’ve never driven in snow before to maybe do some test runs after that first snow to see how your new car handles. Just remember, there are all types of snow, wet snow, light snow, icy snow, slushy snow, etc. just drive slow and you’ll be fine.
There have been many days that I have prayed myself to work in the snow. I feel for you!:muah:

Ok, thought there must be a reason for it, otherwise the whole process seems rather complicated. My uncle exported 2 clapped out cars to Australia (think they were Mercedes) and it took weeks. He’s a mechanic and he did them up and sold one and the profit from that paid for the whole adventure.

:roflhard: I wish I was a mechanic… that would be an added bonus and needed and valued skills!

Oh, it’s not difficult to buy the car here… there is a tiny car lot on base… and they can get any car that has been shipped from the states that might be currently at other locations (US military bases) in Germany- which is what they are doing w/ this car. We just don’t get to ‘shop’ around… for the best deal- since, it’s only one deal… but, I don’t pay taxes on the car- just the shipping fees… and that’s not much- since, it’s being shipped to the US car dealer on base. They take it through customs for me too- otherwise, I’d have to go to another location in Germany to take care of that.:roflhard:

I just hope, hope it’s not going to be a bad winter for the next several years… no parking lots near me… only the open road for 15 miles (w/ no shoulders on the roads either) before I find a parking lot… and that’s at work… and it’s just a pull in and park off of a one way road on both sides of that road… not a typical ‘large sized parking lot’… and the parking lot on base is bigger… but, I’ve never seen an empty place where you could practice driving anything! Just a drive and pull in on either side and park… type of parking lot.

I have been at other military locations-- and schools with nice large parking lots… our parking lot (here) is just long and narrow off of a main one way road entering and then another road that leaves the area… not good for practicing on the snow at all… darn it.

My German town doesn’t even have a shopping area/grocery store or anything either. SIGH…

OK, I’m re-thinking my front wheel drive car ‘that is currently in country’ decision… darn it… Maybe I should have waited and got the 4wd car??

[B]IS THERE anyone out there who lives in or who has lived in SNOWY places (because this isn’t a place that might get snow- it does get snow) w/ only a front wheel drive jeep or other type car??? DID I make a mistake? I know that I can also purchase and put on snow tires to help things out.[/B]

[B]Maybe I could get someone to mail me ‘snow chains’ from the states? WOULD that help? [/B]

Like I said I have lived in the midwest all my life, and my 1st car was a 15 year old REAR wheel drive tank. I had to go backwards up hills when it was bad.:roflhard: Seriously. I’ve NEVER owned a 4wd car. Front wheel is fine I think, especially if it’s only 15 miles. I know that sounds like a lot to you, but 15 miles is nothing out here.
Really, don’t worry so much. You will seriously be fine, I can assure you. The main thing we worry about out here with our cars for the winter is if they are reliable, ie don’t break down and start every morning. 30 degrees below zero is not that uncommon for us. Get something reliable, front wheel drive, and you’ll be fine. I promise:muah:

thanks… mulder…

My theory about snow is… it should be enjoyed from the windows of your home… while enjoying: knitting, watching movies, and snacking on goodies and hot chocolate… not for driving in… or on.

Or maybe even it’s good for building a snowman in the front yard… there is an empty lot across from my house…> I could put a snowman right there… IF I DIDN"T HAVE TO DRIVE TO WORK IN THE SNOW! See, I’d be beautifying the neighborhood IF I got to stay home and enjoy the snow from the comfort of my own home. :roflhard:

designed for British Visitors to Germany, but advise on the German rules regarding snow tyres just thought I’d check as in some countries snow chains are illegal, they expect you to change the tyres instead, but in Germany they appear to be OK

We have the same theory here, but since winter is about 7 full months of the year, we DO have to leave to make money!:roflhard:

Thanks for looking the tire information up for me- I only recently found out about the SNOW TIRES… and I thought to myself… “SNOW TIRES?” I’ve never even seen snow tires in person… (I’m imagining spikes on them… for traction?) So, I’ll get a set of them-- now, that I know the tire size of the new jeep.

I have some steep hilly and curvy areas on my route to work. Sure wish I knew someone that would give me a ride to work on snowy days…

Hummm… Right now… it’s FOGGY AGAIN… guess I’m not going to be able to take any pretty turning fall leaves photos for my blog. I’ve waited 4 days now… and just fog, fog, fog… and the fog here doesn’t burn off in the mornings… oh no… it’s still out there by 4:30pm.

Have you considered asking one of your colegus or somebody you know who has lived there for a long time to give you a couple of lesons in snow driving, both before the weather gets cold and once you have had your first snow? Some body who is experienced it will be able to give you some advice on how best to tackle the specific roads in your area with info on which gear they have found works best on this hill and what speed you want to be taking that corner. local knowlege can be very very usefull. Also make sure when you get the Jeep you spend some time with the dealer or a mechanic and make sure you realy know how the car works and were things like the radiator, spark plugs electrics are and how to access them. carry a good manual with you (in the UK i would be recomending the Haynes manual, i don’t know what the US or German equivelant is). In bad weather rescue from a mechanic can take a little longer, so it is best to make sure you can deal with things yourself, although hopefully a brand new car won’t have any problems.

I lived in the Chicago area all my life and I never had a four wheel drive car, either. I had just bought a Subaru with the heated seats before I moved to FL and now GA. (I obviously had not planned on moving. :roflhard: )

I had a front wheel drive Mitsubishi Galant most of my driving years in Chicago. I never had much of a problem in the snow. :thumbsup: Just slow down until you get used to driving in it. I imagine that Germany keeps their roads pretty clear. If you can find an empty parking lot or an unpopulated area that you can practice driving in, it will make you feel more comfortable.

Think about a sedan. A jeep or something with a higher center of gravity is more unstable and more likely to roll. Plus, a sedan will fit in your garage better. :slight_smile:


I have no advice for you since I live in central Texas where it never snows… but just wanted to say: You’re not getting rid of the ‘old’ car, are you? I don’t know what your options are, but please say you’re able to find a way to keep it?! I love that car. :slight_smile:

So I have always lived in snowy states and the only time I ever used 4WD was climbing mountains in Utah/Colorado to go skiing. 4 WD really does you no good on plowed roads or ice. When engaged 4WD allows all 4 tires to spin independent of each other so not good to use it on dry pavement and it makes you push through turns so can take a little getting used to. Personally never had any trouble driving my sentra or 2WD truck through snow. In a front wheel drive car the engine weight should give you good traction. 2WD trucks get tricky in the snow b/c they are typically rear wheel drive and there is no weight in the bed so you lose traction and spin.
Don’t freak out about driving on snow - its not that bad. Find an emtpy parking lot and practice. If you start to slide steer into the slide and don’t slam on the brakes.
As for purchasing a car on base - are you sure you can only bring a US car back to the states? My SIL recently returned from Germany on a military contract and both she and her husband brought their German cars with them as part of their move. I would take a german car over a Jeep anyday - their reliability is not that great.
enjoy the snow !! It’s the one thing I really miss living here in VA.

Any car that I bring back to the states… must ‘pass USA specs’… and selling a German car ‘before I left’ Germany… if that was what I wanted to do… would be more difficult too.

There are just some things that are easier to do… when you are SINGLE and the biggest problem is… I can only ship ONE CAR TO THE STATES and let’s be truthful… I would want to ship my ‘classic car’ back to America… and sell the car that I’m buying now before I move… and if I bought a German car… I’d have to pay that 19% German tax on it… I’m not sure about how I’d get to register it on base for gas buying purposes… (We buy our gas much cheaper than the Germans do… but, it’s only on the CAR that we register on base and get our special car tags on)…

I’ve just been told from all angles that it’s not easy to have the German car and that the people who do-- are usually married and married to a local national… and have 2 cars… one USA model and one German one. I just see ‘USA CARS’ in the parking lot… at school… I’m sure that there are others in the mix-- but?

I’m not sure how long I’ll be here… lots of unknowns and this is a big deal for me… to buy a car for the first time in 19 years.

Oh, and I hate to disappoint… but, as far as I know… of the models that we can purchase on base… very few of them are the front wheel drive models… so, that’s why I went for a JEEP- plus… I need room to haul boxes/etc around… can no longer have a friend just follow me home… (who wants to drive 20+ miles EXTRA just to follow someone home w/ a box that came in the mail that is too big for their little classic car? It was easy in the past… I lived in a huge city- many people drove home in the same direction as I did.)

[B]ANYWAY… I hope it is going to be OK.[/B] No empty parking lots for miles of my house… none empty on base at any time… unless it’s the middle of the night… and there is snow on the ground… but, that sort of defeats my purpose… the base is 10 miles from my house… and it’s a tiny base compared to where I’ve lived before… I miss living close to the base… and living at a location that has THOUSANDS of people stationed at it-- here… a small population in comparision.

Thanks for all the suggestions… especially those who have lived in winter areas w/ snow and only a front wheel drive. That made me feel better about my decision. A friend in the states (when I called them) told me that I should have only gone w/ the 4wd… even after I’d already purchased the fwd one… I know that they just wanted me to be safe… but, it caused me a lot of doubt… that I’d made a mistake/etc… (and it’s not 100% gone either- so, your comments have helped greatly.)

I didn’t have 2-3 months to wait for a specific car to arrive-- WE have limited choices-- but, you can order a specific car out of those that are purchased for here… the cars sold here (for us Americans on base) are specific packages of cars/etc. It’s not like in the states…

AND remember… I am either going to have to sell the car that I’m purchasing to AMERICANS or sell my classic car before I move and take the newly purchased car w/ me… the govt will only pay to ship one car… and I can only own one car for PCS moves since I’m single… (Married people can own 3 cars-- single people - 1 car…don’t even get me started) I had to get special permisssion from the BASE COMMANDER to just purchase this new vehicle… since, I already own a car on my name and it’s registered/etc.