Why, How, Where, and When To Engage A Jeep Wrangler in A 4-Wheel-Drive?

When it comes to a 4-wheel drive or 4WD vehicle, most of us think about the most badass and dominating model that cruises the beaches, rocks, trails, and roads. Owning a Jeep Wrangler, which is equipped with a 4-wheel drive, is quite similar to participating in an elite team of enthusiasts who have similar hobbies and passions; and traversing every unpaved road is just one of these to happen.

Yesterday when I was having my rare and short-lived lunch break, I suddenly came across an interesting post on a local Jeep group on Facebook discussing the dos and don'ts, how and when to engage or disengage and use a 4WD properly. It is often better safe than sorry! In general, riding in your passenger seat and asking a lot of questions along with taking some mental notes, reading the manual guide of the owners and doing some research on the lovely inter sites will help to teach you a couple of the tricks, tips, purposes, and functions of this stubby small lever.

In most cases, a Jeep Wrangler JK is often designed with a dual rates transfer case, which comes with a T-case behind the transmission and moves drive to the rear and front synchronously or only to the rear differential. Your 4WD choice is the little lever in the left of the shifter and is typically labeled 4L, N, 4H, and 2H.

  1. 2H or 2 Hi: This option is often used for usual driving on the road when the pavement is basically dry. In fact, there is nothing that you really have to do in a 2H position simply because your car should always be in for your everyday driving in this mode.
  2. 4H or 4 Hi: This option is often used for driving at a normal speed, but especially when you want to have a little bit extra traction such as on hard packed sand, dirt roads, or icy, snowy, and slick roads. Your tires and front wheels will help with traction to make your car more stable on the loose surfaces.
  3. 4L or 4 Lo: This option is often used when you want to get maximum power and traction at a slower speed such as sharp declines or inclines, deep snow or mud, and rocky surfaces. Your rear and front wheels should be driven in a low range by using a lower gear ratio, which eventually leads to a higher torque and slower road speed. This will provide your car with better engine braking as well as allow for an easier control.

How to switch from 2 Hi to 4 Hi?

If the ground or pavement is wet, loose or slick and you want to switch over to a 4WD, you would pull the lever simply, firmly and slowly back 1 click. This would successfully swap you to a 4 Hi position.

How to switch from 4 Hi to 4 Lo:

When and if you want to have maximum traction or switch into a 4 Lo position, it is advisable to slow down your car to about 2 to 3 mph. As the Jeep still running, shift to neutral and then firmly, slowly pull pack the lever all the way. Put back the Jeep into gear and then you are ready to go.

Do, don’t, tricks and tips

  • Use 4 Hi position for slippery or slick on road running up to about 45 or 55 mph.
  • Do not attempt to directly move from 2 Hi to 4 Lo position and vice versa. Instead, first you need to move from 2 Hi to 4 Ho, and then put the car in neutral and switch to 4 Lo.
  • Do not exceed the speed of 25 mph while in 4 Lo position.
  • To disengage the 4WD, you need to slow down and put the Jeep in neutral. After that firmly push back the level to 4 Hi position while still running. Put back your Jeep in gear and switch the lever from 4 Hi to 2 Hi position.
  • Shifting in and out of a 4 Lo position is possible when stopped completely. Nevertheless, it might be more challenging as the teeth would not line up properly when at a standstill.
  • A 4 Hi position could be used for speeding up to approximately 55 mph even though it is basically recommended to drive no more than 45 to 50 mph and only for loose surfaces or slick and wet roads.
  • Do not use 4 Lo or 4 Hi option on a road with dry pavements simply because these modes will lock the rear and front drive shafts together to create a single unit for driving. Crow-hopping (the chirp-chirp noise that your tire would produce if still engaged), binding, and driveline noise can happen while on paved, dry surfaces and could result in breakages or heat build-up.
  • Check the owner's manual when you are still not sure of how or when to use the 4WD option.
  • Depend on the pressure of the tire to work in conjunction with your 4WD. A usual tire pressure on the road, based on what you drive, could be anywhere from 30 to 35 psi. The more the pressure is, the firmer the driving is. I often drive my 37s at 29 psi on the road and it is a quiet, comfortable ride. When taking the car off road, lowering down to a suitable psi does not only make your ride much more comfortable, but it also offers your car with a better "footprint" for greater traction.

If you have any questions or experience on this task, feel free to leave a comment in the section below. Thank you for reading.

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John Henry
 

I am John Henry and I have begun to work in automotive industry since the 90s, specializing in car rebuilding and repair. After nearly two decades of working in this complex section, with extensive experience in repairing, troubleshooting and maintaining thousands of cars, I started to work as an auto blogger to share my practical knowledge as well as skills with car owners all around the world through a wide range of articles in online magazine.

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