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View Full Version : How do you engage 4-wheel drive?



Lee G.
05-23-2007, 06:45 PM
Okay, simple question...

How do you shift a truck or SUV into 4-wheel drive to climb a steep grade? Is it done with the gear shift, or is there a button on the console, or is it a combination of both? Obviously, I never have had one. I think I might know, but I'd like to hear from someone who really does before I put it in my story...

Thanks.

Storyteller5
05-23-2007, 06:48 PM
We have a Ford Escape. It has a dial which can be set to auto or 4 wheel drive. The auto setting means it kicks in as needed. :)

Bmwhtly
05-23-2007, 06:56 PM
Bear in mind, the following is based on UK vehicles.

The older Landrover's had a seperate stick (Like a smaller gear stick). You had to shift into low gear, then use the seperate stick to engage 4 wheel-drive.

The newer ones are all electronic so it's just a push of a button.

In fact, on Top Gear (A motoring program in case you don't know), they tested the new Landrover discovery by driving it up a mountain. It had different 4 wheel drive for different terrain (loose rocks, water, bog, grass etc). all at the push of a button.

davids
05-23-2007, 06:59 PM
A nice diamond ring I should think would do the trick

tjwriter
05-23-2007, 07:17 PM
It depends on the vehicle and the age of the vehicle.

In my husband's '85 F150, you have to get outside of the vehicle to lock-out the front wheels, and then there is a second stick shifter to control whether you are in 4-high, 4-low and so on.

In my husband's '95 F150, you have to lock-out the wheels, but now there are buttons on the dash you push to pick what you want to use.

In my '94 Explorer, there are no lock-outs. You just select a button on the dash provided you are in the proper guidelines, i.e. speed, etc.

Hope that helps.

Summonere
05-23-2007, 07:41 PM
Back in the old days (1973 Chevy Suburban), used to have to stop the vehicle, exit the cab, stoop over and grab the locking-ring in the middle of both front hubs, turn them into the locked position, stand upright, complain about your back, complain about the "ass-cold rain" beating the earth to mud and making the roads slippery as soup and jelly, and most of all curse the nincompoop engineers who designed this thing, then climb sopping wet back into the cab, turn up the heater because you're freezing your ass off, then shift into 4-wheel drive "low" to ascend the steep grade, the very grade which had, just moments before, sent you to muddied hands and knees whilst stooping to lock said hubs. Once you no longer needed to use the four wheel drive, you'd stop, exit the cab, unlock the front hubs, climb back inside, shift out of four wheel drive, then discover that you couldn't turn properly because the hubs, in fact, had not actually unlocked, meaning that the inside and outside wheels are trying to spin at the same rate each time you try to change directions. So then you'd have to back up the recommended ten feet (in a straight-line, by the way) to assure the unlocking of those front hubs, discovering (repeatedly) that this mere ten feet is more like forty feet, and that there are a lot more trees and rocks back there behind you than there were originally. Once the hubs do, in fact, unlock, proceed as normal.

A modern Ford Explorer lets you do all of this shifting from the comfort of your driver's seat. Just push a button for 4xHigh or 4xLow (been a while since I've looked at it, so this might be off). I expect most modern 4x4 vehicles work quite similarly, nowadays.

1998 vintage Jeep Cherokee shifts with a lever next to the shifter just forward of and between the two front seats indicating 2H, 4H, N, 4L. Normal driving mode takes place with that secondary shifter in the 2H position. Four-wheel drive occurs in 4L or 4H, but to climb a steep grade, or during any other driving where you need lots of slow power, you'd shift into 4L and go straight up the mountain, hill, trail. You'd go straight up, by the way (or as nearly so as possible), because angling your way up may result in a rollover. Angling too much on too steep a hill may result in successive rollovers. Not that I know anything about this. Just rumors I've heard...

MattW
05-24-2007, 01:21 AM
We've got auto engage 4WD when wheel slip is detected, and a manual engage button when you want to lock it in - shuts off automatically when you go above 40 MPH.

DeborahM
05-24-2007, 01:44 AM
The above posts are right, but I like and go with davids answer! :D

davids
05-24-2007, 01:54 AM
Now there's a gal who knows her four by fours!!!!

Tsu Dho Nimh
05-24-2007, 07:23 AM
Okay, simple question...

How do you shift a truck or SUV into 4-wheel drive to climb a steep grade? Is it done with the gear shift, or is there a button on the console, or is it a combination of both? Obviously, I never have had one. I think I might know, but I'd like to hear from someone who really does before I put it in my story...
Thanks.

Depends on the model - most of them are "auto-4WD" and you don't have to do anything.

Older Jeeps (60-70s era) had a lever you could shove in the cab to engage the 4wd gears temporarily , or you could get out an lock it for an extended perioud via a "Warn hub"(?)

Leva
05-24-2007, 09:03 PM
Tsu Do Nimh -- I think that depended on the Jeep model as to the methods for putting it into four wheel drive.

This answer is very vehicle dependent. it varies. What sort of vehicle?

My 86 Cherokee could be shifted into 4X4 as the others have indicated, with a lever beside the gear shift.

Actually ... my 86 Cherokee never had a problem going into low four. To get it into high four required:

1. Shift to high four, and verify it was *not* in four wheel drive by turning a tight circle with the jeep (if room allowed -- you could feel the difference when turning tightly) or by attempting to climb something requiring high four, get stuck, get jeep unstuck, and swear a bit. The former was, of course, the preferred method of verifying four wheel drive had engaged.

2. Rock jeep backwards and forwards in reverse & 1st gear
3. Try starting from 2nd gear (clunk! grind! clunk!)
4. Zoom backwards in reverse at 20mph
5. Go into low four, shift into high four
6. Cuss, swear.
7. Pop the clutch at a high rpm
8. Cuss, swear some more

... repeat as necessary until the four wheel drive engaged.

... take to tranny shop, have them scratch their heads and claim nothing wrong, later.

Never had a problem getting it into low four, but high four ... *sigh*

Getting it *out* of four wheel drive required a similar routine. It could be driven at (almost) freeway speeds in four wheel drive but consumed large quantities of gas.

(I did lightning photography and storm chased in this vehicle and drove it on sloppy dirt roads, so I needed high four more than low four. Low four is very slow and is for *serious* bad roads, like when the ruts are higher than your bumper or when you're trying to go up a hill that would probably be difficult even walking up.)

ColoradoGuy
05-24-2007, 09:45 PM
I had a Willy's WW II era jeep when I was in high school -- very fun, and my friend had a 1962 IH Scout. But I digress. As all have said, these days it's simple: in most vehicles after about 2000 or so you can just flip the switch and get 4WD "high" setting while still even moving.

Melanie Nilles
05-26-2007, 01:37 AM
In my stepdad's old (70's) pickups, he had to get out, even in deep mud, to lock in the wheels and use a separate stick. In my 91 pickup (auto trans), I had a stick but had to shift to neutral to use it. In our '03 F250, we have Shift on the Fly, the dial the other ford owners mentioned. For 4x4 high, I always take my foot off the gas. For 4x4 Low, the vehicle has to be in neutral to shift into or out of it.

HoosierCowgirl
05-26-2007, 06:00 AM
On our old Chevy 4x4, there was a stick shift on the floor. On the newer Chevy Silverado, there are buttons on the console that you can choose. I think a lot of the time it's in automatic mode and 4WD kicks in when needed.

We only use it when needed b/c of gas mileage.

The hardest job for the truck is pulling full grain wagons up and out of the field, although earlier this spring DH got the truck and hay wagon stuck at another farm adn had to pull it all out with our biggest tractor. When he came home to get the tractor he literally had mud up to his eyebrows.

The moral of this story is, you can really get into a mess that you can't get out of with 4WD :D

Ann

Leva
05-29-2007, 07:43 PM
Worst time I ever had getting my jeep loose was the time I went *down* a very steep (probably well past 45 degree and just shy of "tip the jeep end over end") trail down into a river bottom. At the bottom, when the trail leveled out, the angle was so tight between "road going down" and "flat road at bottom" that I caught the jeep's hitch on a six inch thick ironwood root a few feet up the incline.

The root was holding enough of the jeep's weight that I had no traction in the back ... nothing to catch a jack on because it was all soft sand except for that root ...... and I hadn't bothered to put it into four because I figured the momentum would get me through, and see previous rant about the pain in the butt this jeep was to get into four wheel drive.

Oh, and a storm was coming and I was stuck in a river bottom ...

And ironwood ... green ironwood ... has to be one of the toughest things to chop through in the world. Took me three hours in the pouring rain with a itty bitty hatchet to get it loose.

I took the hitch off when traveling in the back country, after that.

Leva


On our old Chevy 4x4, there was a stick shift on the floor. On the newer Chevy Silverado, there are buttons on the console that you can choose. I think a lot of the time it's in automatic mode and 4WD kicks in when needed.

We only use it when needed b/c of gas mileage.

The hardest job for the truck is pulling full grain wagons up and out of the field, although earlier this spring DH got the truck and hay wagon stuck at another farm adn had to pull it all out with our biggest tractor. When he came home to get the tractor he literally had mud up to his eyebrows.

The moral of this story is, you can really get into a mess that you can't get out of with 4WD :D

Ann

Leva
05-29-2007, 10:57 PM
I envy your Willys.

I watched one of those old jeeps (with the original transmission, even) pull a brand new, large 4X4 king cab Chevy with all the bells and whistles out of the mud once. It was a beautiful thing.

(The owner of the Willys claimed it would only do 45mph with the gas to the floor, but it would do that climbing a tree.)

Leva


I had a Willy's WW II era jeep when I was in high school -- very fun, and my friend had a 1962 IH Scout. But I digress. As all have said, these days it's simple: in most vehicles after about 2000 or so you can just flip the switch and get 4WD "high" setting while still even moving.