How do I Engage a Chevy 4 Wd?

by Robert Bayly
Fuoristrada image by Franco Deriu from

Four-wheel-drive can help your vehicle gain traction in dirt, mud and snow. Some four-wheel-drives are part-time systems with locking hubs on the front wheels; others are full-time systems without locking hubs. Full-time four-wheel-drive incorporates a differential in the transfer case to allow the front and rear wheels to rotate at different speeds on the pavement. Engaging four-wheel-drive is a relatively straightforward exercise regardless of which type of system you have.

Step 1

Drive the vehicle off the pavement and into dirt. Stop and set the parking brake.

Step 2

Shift the transmission into neutral.

Step 3

Lock hubs. If vehicle has locking hubs, rotate center dial from the "free" position to "lock" on both wheels.

Step 4

Find the four-wheel-drive position based on the pattern imprinted on the transfer case shifter. Leave the transmission in neutral and pull or push the shifter to the appropriate position. You will feel the stick click into place in a manner similar to a transmission stick shift, but it takes a little more force to move the transfer case shifter.

Drive the vehicle back onto the pavement.


  • If your shift knob shows (from the front of the vehicle to the rear) "4L-N-2H-4H," the position for pavement driving is "2H." If it shows "Low lock-Low-N-High-High Lock," the position is "High." If it shows
  • "2H-4H-N-4L" the position is "2H."
  • If you have locking hubs always unlock them for pavement use.


  • Four-wheel-drive with hubs locked (part-time system) or four-wheel-lock (full-time system) should not be used on the pavement as this will put a bind on the transfer case, drive shafts and axles which could result in damage to these components. If this happens, either raise the front axle (both wheels) off the ground or move the vehicle onto a dirt surface to disengage the system.

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