When You Should Actually Use 4WD and When You Shouldn’t

Posted on: November 27th, 2018 by Accurate Auto Body Repair No Comments

when to use 4wd When To Use 4WD

As winter weather rears its head again, we find ourselves checking our tires a little more closely, looking into the features our vehicle might have to help us get through the winter weather without having to drastically alter the way we travel. For some, those 4WD systems are looking awfully tempting nowadays, but before you activate that feature, as your auto body shop we urge you to consider a few things. There are some instances where it’s useful, and some instances where it really ends up doing more harm than good.

Know the Difference

First things first, you need to know what you’re working with. 4WD systems are typically only found in larger vehicles, like trucks and SUVs. Many vehicles now come with AWD (all-wheel drive) which is a different system entirely. Before you consider putting your vehicle into 4WD, it might be a good idea to make sure you actually HAVE a 4WD system to turn on. Once you have that sorted out, you can look into when you should actually be utilizing the system.

Off the Beaten Path

On the whole, there are very few times you should actually utilize your 4WD system. One of them, perhaps the most obvious, is when you’re going off-road. When your tires are officially off the pavement, and you’re dealing with uncertain terrain, that’s when this system really shines. Of course, if you’ve never really off-roaded before, we recommend taking it slow and simple to start, until you get used to how the combination of utilizing your 4WD system and driving off road causes your vehicle to handle differently, but once you get the hang of it, it can be a great way to fulfill your inner adventurer and make that system work as intended.

Deep Snow

Now, for the one on most driver’s minds this time of year – snow. 4WD may help you get through deeper snow, and afford you better traction while you navigate those wintery roads. Bear in mind, this isn’t for a light dusting. We’re talking those six-inch nights that lead to dicey commutes the following morning. And, regardless of whether or not that 4WD is giving you an added boost on the roads that are still snow-covered, it’s no excuse for taking the proper driving precautions to account for the less-than-ideal conditions you’ll be driving in.

Beware of Ice

Because, as helpful as 4WD may be in the snow, it doesn’t do a lick of good if you hit a patch of ice. 4WD will not make you stop any faster than any other driving system. Ice is still slippery, no matter what, and if you’re using your 4WD as an excuse to drive without care in winter driving conditions, you could find yourself in a wreck pretty quickly.

Choose Wisely

It’s important to know when to use this system and when not to, because putting your vehicle into 4WD when it’s not required can cause serious damage. If it’s engaged while you’re driving on dry, paved roads, you are likely causing damage to the 4WD components and putting yourself in a position where the system might not work when you need it to.

It may not be the most exciting thing, but reserving that 4WD system for the times when it’s actually needed is the best way to extend the capabilities of what that system can offer you as well as the life of your vehicle. Knowing you can count on the system in deep snow (but not ice!) and during those off-road adventures is worth the peace of mind, but don’t neglect to make sure you have quality tires with the right amount of traction (do the penny test to make sure they aren’t too bald!) as well.


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