Your four-wheel-drive vehicle gives you access to a whole new world of off-roading experiences that you could never have imagined. It has the bush-ready set-up, which includes a purpose-built engine and drivetrain with dual-range (high and low range), transfer case, suspension, and other components, which is designed to get you to places that drivers of two-wheel-drive (2WD) or all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicles can only ever dream of getting to.
The problem is that many people who own four-wheel drives (also known as 4x4s) have never engaged their vehicle's low-range gearing, don't know when they should engage it, or don't even know how to engage four-wheel drive at all.
There is no reason to feel embarrassed about that, and once you have, it won't take you long to wrap your head around how everything is supposed to work properly. In fact, that's why we're here.
If you live in an area that experiences a lot of wintry and icy weather, having four-wheel drive is an important feature to have so that you can get where you need to go safely. The majority of automobiles that have four-wheel drive have both a four-high and a four-low gearing option.
Auto Solutions in Maryville, Tennessee would like to offer some advice regarding the appropriate times to use 4H and 4L gears. When you are driving at a normal rate of speed, you are able to use the 4H gear. If snow is falling while you are driving on the highway, you should shift into 4H gear as soon as possible.
You can also use 4H when you are driving on sandy or rocky roads, which require better traction, because these types of roads are more difficult to control.
When travelling at less than 40 miles per hour, you should always use 4L. You can get out of really difficult situations like deep snow and mud with the help of 4L because it sends a significant amount of torque to the wheels. Causing damage to your vehicle by driving too quickly while in 4L requires extreme caution.
To shift into four-wheel drive on the majority of vehicles, you need to first be stopped and in the "park" position. When driving at high speeds on the highway in snowy or rainy conditions, you can use 4H to give you better traction so that you can maintain control of your vehicle.
When driving extremely slowly or in severe off-road conditions, you should select 4L as your transmission ratio. It is also essential that you do not travel at an excessive speed when in FWD; a good rule of thumb is that you should not travel faster than 55 miles per hour when in 4H and that you should not travel faster than 35 miles per hour when in 4L.
What Are The Different 4wd Modes?
If you are unfamiliar with four-wheel drive vehicles, it can be quite intimidating to try to understand all of the various types of lingo and acronyms that are used in the industry.
To begin, a vehicle is said to have four-wheel drive, or 4WD, if it is able to supply power to all four of its wheels at the same time. This ability is referred to as "four-wheel drive capability." To switch between different driving modes, many contemporary automobiles only require the flick of a switch to do so.
4WD vehicles, on the other hand, come standard with a plethora of features and modes, each of which serves a distinct purpose.
Because of the potential for long-term damage to your vehicle, activating these modes at inopportune times is strictly prohibited. Be sure to read our article on what to do if you find yourself driving in 4WD by accident and what to do about it. Keeping this in mind, you need to become familiar with each mode and the purposes for which it was designed.
High Range (Four High, 4h)
It is recommended to switch to high range mode, often represented as 4H, when travelling at normal speeds through more difficult terrain.
It is common practise for motorists to switch to this setting when they encounter less-than-ideal road conditions. Some examples include roads that are muddy, gravelly, wet, or icy.
At normal speeds, the 4H gear is used whenever extra traction is needed to turn all four wheels.
Roads that are icy or snowy, muddy or slushy, packed or hard-packed sand, or a combination of these are all examples of hazardous road conditions.
You need to shift into fourth gear (or double check that you're already in fourth gear) immediately. When you do either of these, your vehicle will engage both the front and rear wheels in high-range, using the same gear ratio as the 2H setting at normal driving speeds.
When the front wheels gain traction, the vehicle is less likely to skid out of control or get stuck in the obstacle, especially on loose surfaces.
If you drive safely while in this mode, you won't do any extra damage to your vehicle because of the mode's intended purpose, provided you stick to normal driving speeds. Even if you drive faster than the posted limit, this holds true.
Low Range (Four Low, 4l)
If you're going fast, 4H is the way to go, but if you're going slowly over rough terrain, 4L, or low range, is the way to go.
If you plan to try to cross a surface that has water, mud, snow, or sand on it, this mode is your best bet. As previously mentioned, this mode of your vehicle causes your wheels to engage with a greater amount of torque, making it most effective at low speeds.
With 4L and lower tyre pressure, you can drive over even the roughest terrains.
You should go with a 4L transmission if you need maximum power and torque but can make do with a lower top speed.
When steep inclines and declines, thick muds, or rocky surfaces are encountered, the driver can switch to 4L mode to slow the vehicle to a crawl. Each set of wheels experiences low-range speeds.
It slows down travel but boosts torque. Manufacturers claim that the 4L ratio of the Mahindra Thar is 3.73: 1, which translates to a torque output of 600N-m when in 4L mode and helps the vehicle on inclines and declines. Additionally, the lower gearing ratios provide engine braking, making it simpler to come to a stop. Additionally, the vehicle's centre of gravity is decreased due to the reduced gearing ratios.
What Is 2h?
2H is selected when driving conditions on the road are typical and you anticipate a higher level of fuel economy from your vehicle. This mode involves driving only two of the wheels.
According to the manufacturer, the H=high-range transmission is typically either the rear or the front, and it indicates that the normal gear ratios are used for everyday driving. It is possible that some automobiles have a permanent 4WD or all-wheel drive configuration; if this is the case, the 2H option is not available for those automobiles. However, this configuration is not available in India due to the fact that it is less fuel efficient.
How 4wd Works
There are many different four-wheel-drive systems available. When a truck is advertised as having four-wheel drive (4WD), however, the manufacturer is almost always referring to a part-time 4WD system. Sometimes automobiles that have all-wheel drive are referred to as having full-time four-wheel drive (4WD).
However, the way it operates is the same regardless of the drivetrain you have. Your pickup truck has two differentials, one between the front wheels and one between the rear, which allow it to transfer torque and power from its transmission to the wheels that are driving it.
Sending this power can make it possible to make better use of traction in a variety of different situations. The setting for your four-wheel drive will determine which tyres and other components of the truck get the most power. Furthermore, every 4WD mode serves a specific function and offers a unique set of benefits.
The majority of older 4WD systems require the transfer case to be switched between manually, whereas newer 4WD systems have electronic settings that allow you to shift while you are driving.
A vehicle with all-wheel drive (AWD) can simultaneously transfer all of its available power to all of its wheels, but a truck with four-wheel drive (also known as 4WD) gives the driver the ability to select which wheels will be driven by the vehicle. When traction is scarce, the purpose of four-wheel drive is to increase the amount of traction available to the vehicle.
Explaining High- and Low-range (Basically)
Read on for a fuller description of what a 4x4 system entails. For the sake of the narrative, however, those of us with off-road vehicles that feature a dual-range transfer case should keep in mind the following few key points:
As the name "two-wheel drive, high range" suggests, in 2H mode your vehicle moves forwards using only its rear wheels. The second-highest gear (2H) is the standard for everyday driving.
With 4H (four-wheel drive, high range) engaged, all four wheels contribute to the vehicle's forwards motion. Use 4H tyres instead of bitumen tyres when driving on firm sand, dirt roads, gravel tracks, and other similar terrains.
When your vehicle is in 4L, or low range, all four wheels are turning at the same time using a low gear ratio.
Driving at lower speeds whilst also increasing torque is the best tactic because the wheels will turn even more slowly than in high range. Soft sand, dunes, steep hills and declines, deep mud or snow, and crawling slowly over rocks are all examples of challenging terrain that call for 4L.
There was a time when selecting high- or low-range required using a secondary shifter near the main manual or automatic shifter.
Some of us had to get out of our 4x4s and manually lock the front wheels, which required us to do some bending and twisting. To return to 2H gear after we were finished, we had to unlock the hubs. No longer, as a knob or dial is located inside the vehicle's cabin and allows the driver to select between high and low gears.
Many newer 4x4s allow you to switch from 2H to 4H without stopping, but switching from 4H to 4L requires you to come to a full stop.
Use Low Range When
To get the most thrust and grip possible, 4L must be engaged. As was previously mentioned, shifting into 4L mode (also known as four-wheel drive, low range) causes all four wheels to be used for propulsion and makes use of a low gear ratio.
Possessing a low-range transmission is a useful skill for navigating the beach and the bush. To traverse soft sand, soft-sand dunes, steep hills and declines, deep mud or snow, and rocks, you'll need to engage low range. You'll need it to get up and down steep inclines and hills, among other challenges to driving.
Your four-wheel drive vehicle has better engine braking thanks to the lower gearing, making it easier to keep your speed under control while descending a steep slope.
Activating Low Range
Low gear should only be engaged after all tyres have been inflated to the correct pressure. One of the crucial matters you can do to effectively climb, drive over, or otherwise get past any kind of natural obstacle is to keep the air pressure in your tyres at the right level.
The ideal tyre pressure for driving on soft sand as well as soft-sand dunes is between 15 and 18 psi, though it may be necessary to go lower. Use 20–25 psi when dealing with muck or rocks, but be aware that the pressure may have to be reduced even further.
To switch from low range four-wheel drive to low range two-wheel drive, stop your vehicle, put it in neutral or park, and use the shifter dial. This presupposes that you have been traversing higher-range terrain up until this point in preparation for the low-range terrain you'll soon be encountering.
Indicators of 4Low engagement, such as an illuminated symbol or the lettering "4L," may be found on the display of your instrument panel. Until you are sure that the low-range transmission is fully engaged, you must not drive up the hill or into the terrain for which you have selected 4L.
As soon as you know for sure that 4L is on, shift into first gear, let off the brake, and let the vehicle crawl up the hill, across the soft sand, or wherever you happen to be.
When driving in low gear, it's important to take it easy and let the vehicle do the work for you by accelerating and decelerating smoothly. Change up to higher gears or down to lower gears as needed. Be patient and advance cautiously.
Aside from keeping an eye out for potential hazards, all you need to do is watch where your wheels are placed and enjoy the ride.
The Difference Between 4hi, 4lo, And 2hi: When To Use Each
Every four-wheel-drive vehicle has a number of different modes or gears that the driver can choose from when driving. Your truck's differential and the direction in which it sends its power are both controlled by the gears in your transmission, each of which has a specific job and purpose. The following is a list of the different settings that a 4WD truck can have, as well as instructions on how to use them:
2Hi: 2Hi can also be referred to simply as two-wheel-drive, and this option is the one that is utilised the most frequently. When your truck is in two-wheel-drive mode, the system sends all of the available torque to the rear differential. This configuration enables each rear wheel to receive one-half of the total power.
When 4WD is engaged, the power going to each tyre is divided equally across all four wheels. This is the recommended setting for driving in dry conditions at a typical speed, which you would use on a daily basis. When it detects slip in the wheels, a vehicle equipped with automatic four-wheel drive or an all-wheel drive (AWD) with automatic four-wheel drive can switch automatically from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive.
When you shift your truck into 4Lo, it will send torque to all four wheels, but it will do so in the low range. It is recommended to use 4Lo on surfaces that are slippery.
This could refer to sand, precipitation, or even mud. While in 4Lo, your truck will have significantly less traction but a significantly increased amount of torque.
It is also recommended that you use 4Lo when travelling at slower speeds (less than 40 miles per hour) and when you need to "crawl" through an area that has a slippery surface. It is also helpful when you need more power to pull heavy loads at slower speeds or climb steep grades. Both of these activities require more power.
When you need a lot of traction but less power, 4Hi is the best gear to be in. It is recommended that you use it at regular or highway speeds (at least over 15 mph).
The best conditions for using it include snow, ice, extremely slippery conditions, mud, and other similar environments. 4Hi is suitable for roads that are relatively flat and have few inclines.
When you engage 4Hi, the front and rear differentials of your vehicle lock together to provide the maximum amount of traction. Because it does not provide the same amount of push and torque as 4Lo, 4Hi is better suited for getting through a situation than it is for getting out of one.
Automatic Four Wheel Drive (Awd)
It is strongly suggested that you make use of this setting if you are relatively new to the world of four-wheel drive (AWD). Automatic all-wheel drive, or AWD, is a function that monitors the conditions of the road in addition to the torque that your wheels produce and then adjusts the driving setting accordingly.
If you were driving down a highway when it started to rain, for instance, the vehicle would analyse the change in the road conditions and switch into the 4H mode.
Because the prolonged use of certain modes under the incorrect conditions can cause damage to your vehicle, automatic four-wheel drive (AWD) is a great option to have if you are not experienced with four-wheel drive vehicles because it does the thinking for you and will turn off the settings if you are using them incorrectly.
What Not To Do When In Low Range Mode
As was mentioned earlier, each 4WD mode is designed for a specific purpose, and if you use one of these functions at the wrong time, it could cause damage to your vehicle.
The low range mode is designed for taking more cautious driving through challenging terrain. It is not designed to operate at high speeds and doing so could cause damage to your vehicle. When you are operating in this mode, it is strongly advised that you keep your speed below 60 kilometres per hour (km/h).
Driving at a high speed for a protracted amount of time can cause significant wear and tear on your vehicle. If you were driving at high speeds and found that you had accidentally engaged 4L, it is strongly recommended that you take your vehicle into a repair shop as soon as possible.
When used in this manner, this mode can cause the bearings and axel belts to wear out much more quickly than normal, so it is always better to err on the side of caution.
After you have finished driving in 4L mode, you need to make sure that your tyres are reinflated to the correct pressure and that the appropriate driving mode is selected for the surface that you are currently on.
Switch it back to 2H if you're going back onto pavement or bitumen; otherwise, go to 4H for the firm terrain if it's still there.
When driving a four-wheel vehicle, another important thing to keep in mind is that you should avoid making any turns that are particularly sharp. This is present in both the high and low range modes, and it has the potential to cause significant damage to your vehicle.
When you engage four-wheel drive (4WD), the front wheels of your vehicle will be locked in place, which may cause the vehicle to slide and jerk. Because of the torque that has been building up in your vehicle, there is a chance that it will flip over if you make a turn that is sufficiently sharp.
This occurs because the accumulated torque has reached such a high level that it requires the displacement of the additional force.
Important Things To Note About 4wd Modes
When it comes to four-wheel drive systems, one of the most essential points to keep in mind is to make sure that each 4WD setting is utilised in the appropriate manner at all times.
"You should never travel in four-wheel drive on flat, smooth, and dry roads," advises Allstate Insurance, "as doing so will damage your drivetrain." It is important to keep in mind that the increased torque and traction do not necessarily mean that you will be able to stop more quickly. It should only be used on roads that are smooth, flat, and dry. You still need to account for a sufficient amount of braking time, particularly in challenging conditions.
Before you engage any of the 4WD modes, it is essential to keep in mind that your vehicle will supply more torque to your wheels, but that this will not assist you in stopping the vehicle.
Because stopping can be challenging, you should always travel at a speed that allows you to stop safely. Safety is the top priority on any four-wheel drive excursion, regardless of the road conditions or the driver's level of experience.
You might also be curious about when it is appropriate to switch modes while you are behind the wheel. The correct action to take is to come to a complete halt before entering or exiting 4L mode, but all other mode switches can be performed normally. It is perfectly acceptable to change gears while moving along a highway or a dirt road, and you should feel free to switch from four-wheel drive to two-wheel drive at any time. If you look at the different indicators that light up on your dashboard, you will always be able to tell what mode you are currently operating in.
Maryville, Tennessee's Auto Solutions would like to share some insight into when 4H and 4L gears are the best option. Immediately after noticing snowfall, drivers on the highway should switch to 4H gear. Driving too quickly in 4L can cause serious damage to your vehicle, so you need to proceed with caution. Select 4L as your transmission ratio when going extremely slow or driving in extreme off-road conditions. It is forbidden to activate these modes at inappropriate times due to the potential for permanent damage to your vehicle.
Whenever possible, while moving at moderate speeds, one should use 4H, or high range mode. When you expect to be in normal driving conditions and want to maximise your fuel economy, select 2H. In this setting, you'll only be controlling two of the wheels. Because of engine braking afforded by the lower gearing ratios, slowing down under normal conditions is less of a challenge. There are a wide variety of four-wheel-drive setups on the market.
Each 4WD setting accomplishes a distinct goal and provides its own special advantages. When travelling on hard-packed sand, dirt roads, gravel tracks, and other similar surfaces, 4H tyres should be used instead of bitumen tyres. When you put your vehicle into 4L mode, also called four-wheel drive, low range, the engine sends torque to all four wheels. 4L is required when traversing soft sand, dunes, steep hills and declines, deep mud or snow, or slowly stumbling over rocks. When operating a 4WD vehicle, the driver has the option of shifting between several different "modes" or "gears."
Here we'll go over all the options for your 4WD truck and how to switch between them. The 4L, 4hi, 2hi, and 4lo designations all indicate four-wheel drive. As soon as 4WD is activated, all of the engine's thrust is sent to all four wheels at once. While in 4Lo, your truck's traction will be greatly reduced but its torque will be greatly increased. When 4Hi is engaged, the vehicle's front and rear differentials lock together to deliver maximum traction.
Using the wrong 4WD setting at the wrong time can be harmful to your vehicle because each setting is made for a different purpose. Another thing to remember when driving a 4WD vehicle is to stay away from sharp turns. There is no guarantee that you will have better stopping power thanks to the increased torque and traction. Flat, dry, and level roads are ideal for its use. Braking distances are still important to calculate, especially in difficult weather.
- Your four-wheel-drive vehicle gives you access to a whole new world of off-roading experiences that you could never have imagined.
- The problem is that many people who own four-wheel drives (also known as 4x4s) have never engaged their vehicle's low-range gearing, don't know when they should engage it, or don't even know how to engage four-wheel drive at all.
- To shift into four-wheel drive on the majority of vehicles, you need to first be stopped and in the "park" position.
- When driving extremely slowly or in severe off-road conditions, you should select 4L as your transmission ratio.
- Low Range (Four Low, 4l)If you're going fast, 4H is the way to go, but if you're going slowly over rough terrain, 4L, or low range, is the way to go.
- Each set of wheels experiences low-range speeds.
- To get the most thrust and grip possible, 4L must be engaged.
- As was previously mentioned, shifting into 4L mode (also known as four-wheel drive, low range) causes all four wheels to be used for propulsion and makes use of a low gear ratio.
- Possessing a low-range transmission is a useful skill for navigating the beach and the bush.
- To switch from low range four-wheel drive to low range two-wheel drive, stop your vehicle, put it in neutral or park, and use the shifter dial.
- Until you are sure that the low-range transmission is fully engaged, you must not drive up the hill or into the terrain for which you have selected 4L.As soon as you know for sure that 4L is on, shift into first gear, let off the brake, and let the vehicle crawl up the hill, across the soft sand, or wherever you happen to be.
- The Difference Between 4hi, 4lo, And 2hi: When To Use EachEvery four-wheel-drive vehicle has a number of different modes or gears that the driver can choose from when driving.
- When your truck is in two-wheel-drive mode, the system sends all of the available torque to the rear differential.
- When it detects slip in the wheels, a vehicle equipped with automatic four-wheel drive or an all-wheel drive (AWD) with automatic four-wheel drive can switch automatically from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive.
- When you need a lot of traction but less power, 4Hi is the best gear to be in.
- Because the prolonged use of certain modes under the incorrect conditions can cause damage to your vehicle, automatic four-wheel drive (AWD) is a great option to have if you are not experienced with four-wheel drive vehicles because it does the thinking for you and will turn off the settings if you are using them incorrectly.
- This is present in both the high and low range modes, and it has the potential to cause significant damage to your vehicle.
- It is important to keep in mind that the increased torque and traction do not necessarily mean that you will be able to stop more quickly.
- Before you engage any of the 4WD modes, it is essential to keep in mind that your vehicle will supply more torque to your wheels, but that this will not assist you in stopping the vehicle.
- You might also be curious about when it is appropriate to switch modes while you are behind the wheel.
FAQs About 4X4 Vehicles
Without an Auto setting, 4WD High is what you'd use in any low-traction but the relatively high-speed situation—a dirt road or snowy paved road. 4WD Low is strictly for slow off-roading or places where torque multiplication would help you out (like deep sand).
As a 4WD driver who drives challenging terrain, it's always important to know when to engage 4WD HI. Learning how fast to drive in 4WD is essential to preventing severe damage to your truck, wallet, and ego. Do not attempt to drive over 55-60mph when in 4WD mode, irrespective of the driving conditions.
For snowy roads, muddy terrain and other light off-road trails - even sand - it usually is best to engage your 4 high settings when needed as it provides power to all four wheels, helping increase your traction while reducing the risk of slipping and spinning wheels.
4H or 4L mode is only intended for consistently slippery or loose surfaces. Using 4L mode on these surfaces may produce some noise, such as occasional clunks, but should not damage drive components. Note: If 4L is selected when your vehicle is moving above 5 km/h, the 4WD system should not perform a shift.
In short, while you can use a four-wheel drive in inclement weather for highway driving, you should not use it in good weather conditions. In addition, when you do need to engage four-wheel drive on highways, make sure it's a 4H setting.