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Is a 4X4 chassis really worth the cost???

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  • Is a 4X4 chassis really worth the cost???

    Our department is considering the purchase of a new pumper. We want minimum 1000 gpm pump, 500 gallons of water and good amount of compartments. We will mainly use the truck as a rural water supply truck and to serve as the first in truck during bad weather, help the brush truck out when needed off road, etc. We want the 4X4 but have questions about if the 4X4 really adds that much over 4X2 with chains? How does 4X4 on a custom chassis effect the handling, power, etc. Simply put, to those of you that have 4X4 pumppers (bigger than a mini-pumper) is the cost of it worth the benefit????

    Thanks In Advance,


  • #2

    We have a 1990 Pierce Dash (2000 gpm, 500 gal tank) with on-demand all-wheel-drive, and it's a great rig. While it spends most of its time on the road in rear-wheel drive, the AWD comes in very handy in off-road situations, whether that means gaining unconventional access to a fire building, getting to an off-road water source, working a brush fire off-road, or whatever.

    As for bad weather, it's usually run in AWD with insta-chains in snow and works just fine, although deeper snow (10 inches and over) sometimes makes things a little dicey, and we've pretty much decided to add a set of rear chains for deeper snows in the future. At the same time, the AWD has sometimes saved the day on ice. In a situation where you find yourself part-way up a long, steep lane or driveway with the rear wheels slipping on an unexpected ice patch, it's a very nice thing to be able to flip into AWD and pull your rears off the ice with your fronts. This has happened more than a few times.

    With respect to handling, there are the same minor handling differences between AWD and RWD akin to those you'd experience in a 4x4 pickup truck, only it's amplified a bit because the rig is bigger and more powerful. Really, though, it's no big deal...it just comes down to practicing it before you need it. In terms of power, I haven't noticed any real difference in AWD vs RWD.

    All things considered, if you envision the need for AWD, it's probably worth getting AWD. After all, you're probably going to have this thing for 15 or 20 years, so you might as well spend the money and get what you need, right?


    • #3
      All things considered, if you envision the need for AWD, it's probably worth getting AWD.

      That's kinda what I was thinking.

      If your concern is snow/ice mostly on road, rear wheel drive w/ instant chains for the light stuff, and real chains for the blizzards, is a more than adequate combination.

      If you're looking to make water holes, go up roads with lose gravel, go off-roading with the Brush trucks the instant chains won't help much if at all (provided you don't bend them out of alignment and have all the chains fly off...), and not many of us are gonna take time to chain up a truck in the heat of the battle.
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