Jan 16

Using Four-Wheel Drive To Your Advantage

Winter weather can look beautiful and seem quite harmless from the warmth of your home—but it can wreak significant havoc on your vehicle, causing a great deal of harm when you’re behind the wheel. Four-wheel drive can play a key role in keeping you safe in hazardous conditions; however, knowing how to properly utilize your four-wheel drive is essential for maintaining your own safety, the safety of your passengers, and the long-term safety of your car as well. Read on for our guidelines to learn how you could be using four-wheel drive to your advantage (without causing undue harm to your vehicle).

good weather for driving

Two-wheel drive is the standard operation method for well-paved roads and good driving conditions. In such environments, when your tires are much less likely to lose traction, even models with 4WD capabilities should be driven like two-wheel drive model. This is because two-wheel drive settings only requires power from the rear axles and rear wheels, meaning that your vehicle is using enough power to remain stable, without over-straining it unnecessarily.

slick roads poor driving conditions

High-range four wheel drive is specifically designed to help you in situations where roads are more slippery and you feel there is a possibility your tires may lose traction. This setting engages the front axle of your vehicle, so that both the front and rear axles (and all four wheels) receive power. Operating in high-range four wheel drive in good conditions, where roads are easy to navigate, places extra stress on those axles and transfer cases, which can lead to substantial damage. That’s why it’s important to remember to shift out of 4 HI as soon as your road conditions seem to approve.

Alternating between high and low road traction

In conditions where roads seem to alternate between having high and low-traction areas, the Automatic 4HI setting found in some select models can be very beneficial. This setting allows torque to be automatically distributed between the front and rear axles when required. Because of its ability to only engage the front axles when low traction is detected, Automatic 4HI can safely be used in any road conditions, without the threat of long-term vehicle damage.

low-range four wheel drive for off-roading

The final option for select models is Low-range four wheel drive. This setting effectively doubles the amount of power that is sent to both the front and rear axles, allowing for enhanced speed and traction in off-road or severely hazardous conditions. Low-range four wheel drive is absolutely not intended for dry surfaces, or for any situation where the roads have moderate traction. The Low-range setting truly is your option for getting out of emergencies, at which point you can shift back into a safer gear to keep from damaging your axles and drivetrain components.


Our vehicles have numerous assets for ensuring your safety, and Four-wheel drive is definitely one of them. But like most good things, four-wheel drive also comes with responsibility. For more information about navigating your four-wheel drive vehicle, or to safely test-drive one, come visit us today at Gateway Buick GMC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>