In terms of traction and control, having a 4-wheel drive vehicle instantly puts you at an advantage over other drivers on the road when navigating in dicey weather and terrains, like muddy rains, slippery pavements, gravel roads, off-roads, and of course, snow and ice. When you need your car to move forward with stability and control in such conditions, a 4-wheel drive vehicle will do much better than two-wheel drive since it engages all four wheels at once, providing more torque. A two-wheel drive vehicle will very likely have you off the shoulder or stuck in a ditch with snow up to your axles!
So having a 4-wheel drive vehicle is certainly a plus, but it is important to know just when and where to use it. You see, you should never drive using four-wheel drive on roads that are smooth, flat, and/or dry, because it can cause irreversible damage to the drivetrain and more.
Continue reading to learn some tips for operating your vehicle’s 4-wheel drive system, including what to do if you ever get stuck on the road without options.
4-Wheel Drive Modes
There are various modes on a four-wheel drive vehicle. The precise modes will vary slightly from make and model, but most are operated using a basic, universal language. Get to know these modes and what they do, and you will know just when to use your 4-wheel drive skills! Here are the most basic four-wheel drive modes and applications:
⚙ Four-High (4H)
Four-high (4H) drive is also referred to as high-range 4-wheel drive. This mode allows you to drive at regular speeds with extra traction, making it the perfect go-to setting for highway and interstate travel during inclement weather like snow, ice, rain, sleet, hail, and more. In lower but still normal speeds, this mode is also good for gravel, packed sand, and mud.
⚙ Four-Low (4L)
Four-low (4L) drive, or low-range 4-wheel-drive, is designed for maximum traction and power. For this reason, it is a more serious and advanced mode that should only be used in conditions like deep snow, mud, and sand, or when crossing shallow bodies of water. In this mode, it is important to use low speeds (under 35 mph), otherwise you can damage the drivetrain and power control module.
⚙ Automatic Four-Wheel Drive (AWD)
One of the most admired and modern conveniences in automobiles today is automatic 4-wheel drive (AWD). This version is a “set it and forget it” mode, which allows the driver to pre-program the tires to monitor the traction in 2-wheel drive, and automatically shift into 4-wheel drive when traction is detected to be reduced. Combination road conditions, such as snow and ice, rain and mud, or any other conditions in which tires might abruptly slip, are well-navigated with AWD drive.
There are two different types of AWD. The automatic version just mentioned, also known as “part-time AWD”, and full-time AWD. Full-time AWD supplies power to all four wheels, but does not retain the degree of low-range torque that Four-Low drive (4L) delivers.
When Your 2-Wheel or 4-Wheel Drive Fails
Regardless of which mode your vehicle is equipped with, it is common to find yourself stuck in mud, snow, or a ditch on the side of the road. When this happens, contact a licensed and insured 24 hour towing company for emergency roadside assistance. They can pull you out and give you a tow to the nearest location or auto repair shop of your choice.
24 Hour Towing and Roadside Assistance Near You
Call Zore’s Inc. at 317-247-8484 for 24 hour tow truck roadside assistance in Indianapolis, Indiana. We are a family owned and operated company with more than 75 years in business here in Indiana! We offer a wide range of services for Hoosiers, including roadside assistance, scrap metal recycling, cash for junk cars, towing and recovery, storm damage, traffic clearance, and much more.