Buying a vehicle is just like finding a lifetime partner–you have to look for the one that will stick with you even through the roughest and hilliest terrains. Thanks to four wheel drive (4WD) vehicles, your search can finally be over.
Capable of providing power and torque on demand, a 4WD model is ideal not only for city driving, but for off-road driving as well. However, since there are so many terminologies associated with a 4WD, it can be extremely confusing to choose among the different 4WD types and modes.
Not sure if a 4 wheel drive is the best choice for you? Let’s get to know this vehicle type a little bit more.
The Different Types of Four Wheel Drive Vehicles
Full-Time 4 Wheel Drive
A full-time four wheel drive supplies power to the 4 wheels of the vehicle to optimize traction and torque. Ideal in slippery, dry or rough road conditions, this drivetrain configuration shifts power between the rear and front axles.
In most full-time versions, the power is equally distributed in all four wheels. However, there are some advanced versions that are designed to split the torque between the wheels that need to generate the highest amount of twisting power, making distribution more efficient.
On the downside, 4-wheel system’s full-time engagement negatively impacts fuel efficiency since the vehicle is generating maximum power regardless of road conditions.
Note: As compared to other 4WD variants, the full-time configuration may provide less mobility off-road because its rear or front wheels are designed to continuously spin once traction diminishes.
Part-Time 4 Wheel Drive
Why choose between power and fuel-efficiency when you can have both? A part-time 4WD is perfect for those who spend most of their time on paved roads, but are also looking for power and traction for a hassle-free off-road driving experience.
In comparison to other four wheel drive variants, a part-time 4WD has better gas mileage since the 4WD system can be switched off when you are driving on well-developed roads. When the 4WD system is deactivated, the vehicle works exactly the same as a two-wheel drive vehicle, making it more fuel efficient.
If you need superior traction, on the other hand, you can switch to the 4WD mode by engaging the transfer case via a second gear lever. This way, you can get sufficient power from all 4 wheels while getting a better road grip.
Note: This variant can be used on or off-road. Nonetheless, don’t forget to deactivate the 4WD system when you are driving on paved roads as not doing so may lead to serious repairs.
Automatic 4 Wheel Drive
Unlike the part-time configuration, the automatic four wheel drive facilitates optimum driving comfort since it automatically shifts from 2WD to 4WD and vice versa, depending on the road condition.
The automatic 4WD system is activated by either a slipping wheel or a sophisticated software. The vehicle monitors traction from the tires and shifts to 4 wheel drive when one of the tires start to slip.
Note: If you frequently engage in serious off-road driving, this version may not be suitable for you since the wheels may be automatically powered all the time, which is not always ideal in all types of off-road driving.
Using the Right Mode
The 4H mode is perfect if you are driving at normal speeds, but you need to gain more traction. Once engaged, the front wheels provide more traction to optimize vehicle stability especially when you are driving in loose surfaces like dirt roads, sandy terrains or snow-covered grounds.
Planning to cross water, climb hills or drive in deep sand? Piece of advice: activate the 4L setting and drive at less than 40 mph. Built to provide maximum power and traction, the 4L mode enables your vehicle to distribute more torque as your tires attempt to grip the most dangerous grounds.
However, since this setting was designed to improve vehicle torque, the wheels can turn slower as compared to when your vehicle is in 4H mode.
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