Never go offroading alone!
On 30 December 2019 I decided to go and have some snow fun. It was a bad decission. So I got to the places I wanted to shoot some clips and the snow layer was very thick and starting to melt on the surface. The photo above is made after I nearly got stuck on the base of a hill near this cleared trail. As you can see, there was snow in every place underneath the car.
And I made a few attempts in 2WD, Auto, 4WD, ESC On and Off, the Duster did well, I didn’t have to force it and because it was easy I said “Let’s go and try climbing a hill, with fresh snow!”.
This was the hill, on the first attempt I almost got it to the top, but the car started to slide to the right and ended up in this position, gathering even more snow in the rims, and brake discs.
After I got out form the fresh snow and back on the celared trails, the following lights came on board: check ABS, check ESC, check 4WD, check HDC, check ramp support start, check Start-Stop. And I could only use the 2WD Mode.
Plus the steering has become very hard, like there a non-servo steering.
Basically I was on the base of a hill, in 2WD, alone, at -10 degrees Celsius with very small chaces of finding someone to pull me out of there. When I saw that I had no chance of going uphill, I thought the failure of the system was due to the snow on the interior of the rims and I took off the front wheels and cleaned it.
The cause of the ABS, ESP, 4WD failure
After taking the first wheel down, I noticed a thick layer of snow around the interior of the steel rim and snow in behind the brake pads. That made the ABS sensor to report a problem and from that problem the car’s computer started shutting down the other components: the ESC and the 4WD, in order to prevent any physical damage. At that time it seemed like a wrong thing for me, but now I know that I would have tried many times to get out and maybe end up damaging something. Only after cleaning the both rims and brake pads and the whole suspension, the car started to recover. Not from the first start, but third time lucky.
After this experience, I do not recommend the steel wheels, the model like mine, because the snow accumulates very quickly in them. The side sliding while the brakes were engaged “helped” the snow reach the space behind the brake pads. That’s what you have to avoid while offroading in snow. I’ll switch to some alloy wheels on the 16th, with as much space as possible between the spokes.
Conclusion: It seems like a failure, but, in fat, it’s a safety feature very useful in offroad situations!