When to Use Your Four-Wheel Drive

I grew up driving 2WD and 4WD vehicles, never really knowing much about them besides that a 4WD or AWD is better in the snow. I never really learned how or when do use them until years later – and many of my friends are still in the dark. If you have a a 4 wheel-drive vehicle, you might as well learn how, when and where to use it!

So when it comes to traction on a wet road, gravel, or snow, four-wheel drive is the best way to drive safely. But do you know how to use it correctly? Here’s the lowdown on how to use your 4 wheel-drive vehicle to your benefit.

This post is sponsored by Reedman-Toll Chevrolet of Exton.

In a higher range four wheel drive you can travel at all normal speeds. You engage this setting though when you are on the high way and the roads aren’t ideal. Snow, rain, ice or even on loose gravel roads. 4H is used when you don’t really need any extra traction.

The lower range four-wheel drive setting is for the major stuff like deep snow, mud, sand, lots of water, or going up and down hills. When you use it, you keep your speeds lower as well so you aren’t necessarily gripping the roads any better, but you are applying more torque to that grip. This gives you maximum traction and power.

My favorite – and also mostly found on newer vehicles – AWD can be used whenever. The vehicle automatically monitors the tire traction while in 2 wheel-drive and automatically will shift into 4 wheel when needed. You would normally use this setting when you are traveling and there’s a combination of conditions. There are usually two types of AWD, a part-time AWD as mentioned above, or a full-time AWD which will deliver power to all four wheels but doesn’t have the same torque as in 4L.

Now you shouldn’t engage your 4 wheel-drive in flat, smooth or dry roads. It could seriously damage your drivetrain. And even though it gives you more torque and engages the tires, it doesn’t do anything different when it comes to stopping! Make sure you are always driving at a safe speed.

Also, when shifting from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive you can do so as you are driving down the road. But if you go to shift out of it, or back and forth, you will probably need to come to a stop and wait for the indicator light to tell you it’s OK to switch. If you don’t, you could severely damage your vehicle.


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