How to Disengage a Stuck Four-Wheel Drive Line

by Contributor

Four-wheel drive vehicles can become stuck in four-wheel mode due to improper lubrication or lack of use. This is a common problem and is usually not a very serious situation. It is important that you switch to two-wheel drive when you transition to a hard dry surface, as operating in four-wheel drive mode on the highway will decrease fuel efficiency and can lead to damage.

Step 1

Check to see if you have manual hubs and that they are in "free" mode.

Step 2

Put your vehicle into four-wheel high mode.

Step 3

Drive forward for about a quarter of a mile.

Step 4

Stop the vehicle and shift from four-wheel to two-wheel drive.

Step 5

Place the vehicle in reverse and drive backwards for 15 to 20 feet.

Drive the vehicle forward slowly to allow the loosened shims to disengage.


  • Proper maintenance is the best way to prevent problems with four-wheel drive hubs.
  • Inspect, clean and lubricate the hubs every two years or 24,000 to 30,000 miles.
  • If you drive your four wheel drive vehicle off-road on a regular basis or through hub-deep mud or water for extended periods, the hubs should be serviced more often.
  • If the above steps do not disengage your stuck drive line then you will need to disassemble and service the hubs. This is an extensive and time consuming job that may require the attention of a trained professional.

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