Many drivers who purchase four-wheel drive vehicles don’t buy them for use off-road. And the truth is, you don’t have to hit the trails in your 4WD vehicle to make the most of its capabilities. But knowing a little about how 4WD works and when to use 4WD-high and 4WD-low capabilities can make your drive smoother and safer than ever before.
Different Types of 4WD
4WD-high stands for high-range four-wheel drive; it’s made for driving at normal speeds when road conditions are compromised. 4WD-high is perfect for wet or slick roads, gravel, ice, snow, or even when stuck in sand or snow. This type of 4WD doesn’t actually increase torque and it doesn’t change the actual gearing on your vehicle; it’s primarily designed to improve traction when you’re not driving on steep terrain.
Low-range four-wheel drive gears your vehicle down, giving you more torque (that’s more power to each wheel) as you navigate difficult terrain. 4WD-low is intended for use at low speeds; most manufacturers indicate it’s not for speeds above 45 mph. It’s perfect for climbing steep hills or rocks, making your way through particularly heavy snow or mud, fording water, driving through deep sand, or other conditions where you need more power to creep your way along.
This type of 4WD is a feature of newer cars that senses when you do and don’t need extra traction control or lower gearing. With the flip of a switch, you can set your vehicle to automatic 4WD and forget about messing with the settings; it’ll automatically set your vehicle to the appropriate 4WD category for the road conditions.
Finding out what type of 4WD Vehicle You Have
If you’re not completely sure about the options available in your vehicle, the best place to check is usually pretty close at hand: the owner’s manual. There, you’ll find information on the type of 4WD in your vehicle and whether or not you have the option to switch to four-high or four-low.
The manufacturer can also provide the best information about specific conditions meriting use of those specialty systems, so you can maximize your driving efficiency no matter what road conditions look like.
The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.