How to Use the 4wheel Drive in Vehicles

by Contributing WriterUpdated June 12, 2017

The Vehicles lived a tough life in the shadow of its predecessor, the much-loved Cherokee XJ. When it debuted, many said that the Vehicles was too soft, too civilian, too city-oriented to carry the Vehicles name; but, then again, purists said all the same things about the Cherokee XJ when it hit the scene. Someday, we may well see modified Liberties slinging mud and trail-bashing with the best XJ Cherokees. But, even in stock form, the Vehicles and its four-wheel-drive system have a surprising amount of capability going Vehicles them.

Under The Hood:

 How to Use the 4wheel Drive in My 2004 Jeep Liberty

Using Liberty's 4WD

The first-generation Liberty, despite the "soft-road" derision laid upon it by the XJ faithful, really did have a few design details worth bragging about. First was an all-independent suspension, a rarity on 4WD trucks of any type at the time. Second was a shift-on-the-fly NP242 transfer case with a 2.72-to-1 low range.

That might not seem particularly impressive by rock-crawling standards, but it was apparently enough for the XJ, which used the same case. This low range was good for up to 25 mph in the Liberty. The transfer case had four settings, labeled on the housing of the floor-mounted 4WD selector handle: "2WD," "4 Part-Time," "4 Full-Time" and "4 LO." In "4 Full-Time," the transfer case is set up for street duty, releasing to front axle while going around turns. In "4 Part-Time," the axles are permanently locked together for off-roading.

The "2WD" and "4 Full-Time" settings were equivalent to "2 High" and "4 High," respectively. The driver could shift back and forth between these at will up to 55 mph on any surface without lifting off the throttle; however, Jeep notes that the transfer case will shift between the two faster if you let off the throttle briefly while shifting. Jeep does not recommend using the harder-core "4 Part-Time" unless you're on a slippery surface like snow or ice or off-road, because the front axle won't release to help you turn on dry pavement. You can, however, shift to the fully locked "4 Part-Time" on the fly, which is nice if you suddenly encounter sand or mud you weren't expecting off-road.

You must slow to 2 to 3 mph to shift into "4 LO" from either of the "4 High" settings. Before shifting into "4 LO," push the gear shift lever on the transmission -- not the transfer case lever -- into neutral. Then, quickly but firmly pull the transfer case lever into "4 LO." With the case now in low range, put the gear selector back into "Drive," and you're good for up to 25 mph.

 How to Use the 4-Wheel Drive on a Honda Ridgeline

Slow the vehicle to under 18 mph. The automatic four-wheel drive system can only be overridden when the vehicle is moving slower than 18 mph.

Move the shift lever to first gear, second gear or reverse, depending on your situation. The VTM-4 LOCK button can only be activated if the vehicle is in one of these gears.

Press the "VMT-4 LOCK" button to activate the locking system.

Apply a light amount of pressure to the accelerator pedal. If the vehicle exceeds 18 mph, the four-wheel drive system will disengage.

Press the "VMT-4 LOCK" button and shift the vehicle into drive to disengage the lock when you are finished.

 How to Use 4-Wheel Drive in Snow

Read the driver's manual before beginning. Make sure you know how and when the vehicle can be switched to 4-wheel drive.

Purchase and install superior snow tires. Tires like the "Blizzak" are considered superior to studded snow tires and should be considered if the conditions require it. Also consider the BFGoodrich Radial All-Terrain tires for snow travel.

Prepare an emergency kit. Add food and water. Add extra hoses and fluids. Add a phone book and emergency contacts.

Switch into 4-wheel drive mode. Start on a clear slick footing. Avoid wind-up by allowing the vehicle some slippage to switch into 4-wheel drive. If you do start on dry pavement and get wind-up, put the vehicle in reverse and reverse for a short distance to unwind the vehicle. Shift into 4-wheel drive according to the driver's manual. If the manual allows for the switch on the fly, be prepared for a sudden gain in traction.

Use common sense and avoid large rocks and ice that could damage the vehicle. Avoid deep powder that may be hiding these objects. Watch for large pieces of ice and snow that might get stuck and freeze up the engine. Avoid ice and rocks that could puncture brake lines and such. Watch your gauges and fluids. If anything gets low, refill it immediately.

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