4 Wheel Drive for Dummies

Date: 1/9/2020


As you may have guessed, our business is focused on maintaining, servicing and accessorizing all types of 4x4 vehicles.  But what exactly does 4x4 mean? Why do some vehicles offer 4-wheel drive and others don’t? When should 4-wheel drive be employed? Let us help you navigate through the 4-wheel drive world with this brief summary and introduction to the 4x4 world.

4 wheel drive

What is 4-Wheel Drive?

In basic terms, vehicles equipped with 4-wheel drive have an engine that sends power to all four wheels – therefore making it more stable and powerful in tough conditions like rain, snow or on off road trails. In contrast, vehicles that are front wheel or rear wheel drive will only have power sent to two of the vehicle’s four wheels.

All wheel drive vs. 4-Wheel Drive?

All wheel drive (AWD) – or sometimes known as “full time 4-wheel drive” is exactly that. The engine provides power to all four wheels all the time. 4-wheel drive vehicles most likely have a button or option to turn this power on or off depending on your driving conditions. When the vehicle is not set to 4WD, it will default to 2-wheel drive.

*Important: if your vehicle has a 4-wheel drive option, do not run the vehicle in that mode on dry, smooth pavement – or normal driving conditions – as it could damage your drive train.

Advantages of 4-Wheel Drive

While some truck and SUV owners will only drive their vehicle on paved roads, and highways, there are some of us who like to get off-road for spontaneous adventures from time to time. This is the main advantage for 4WD vehicles.  They are great for driving in slippery conditions like rain, snow, or mud as it has improved traction and provides additional weight for better grip.

Disadvantages of 4-Wheel Drive

As with any enhanced vehicle modification or feature, 4-wheel drive is only a feature to improve your vehicles performance.  Regardless of how much snow or ice is on the ground, 4-wheel drive is not going to save you from collision if you are not driving with caution to begin with. 

Situations to use 4-Wheel Drive:

Living in Colorado, our snowy winters are a perfect opportunity to utilize 4-wheel drive. Other situations that can benefit from 4WD include when off-roading (mud, or sand), when pulling heavy loads up a steep incline or decline, or to get out of a sticky situation aka mud or ditch.   

Top 10 4-Wheel Drive Cars:

In the market for a 4WD SUV? According to Carmax, here are the top 10 AWD or 4WD SUVs for 2019:

1. Nissan Rogue

2. Jeep Wrangler

3. Jeep Grand Cherokee

4. Honda CR-V

5. Ford Explorer

6. Ford Escape

7. Toyota RAV-4

8. Jeep Cherokee

9. Audi Q5

10. Subaru Forester

Make sure to contact Bullhide 4x4 to chat with one of our 4x4 experts on maintaining your 4WD vehicle this winter!