when to use 4x4 system

When To Use The 4×4 System In Your Jeep

  • Jeep Wrangler
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Four-wheel-drive, also known as 4×4, is the hallmark of a vehicle built for off-road performance and on-road safety, and it has also become synonymous with the Jeep brand.

In fact, Jeep has become very much the king of four-wheel-drive manufacturers, with the Jeep Wrangler being crowned “4×4 of The Decade” and the Jeep Grand Cherokee picking up the title of “the most awarded SUV ever.”

To help you get the most out of your award-winning four-wheel-drive Jeep, we’ll be looking at the different types of four-wheel-drive and when to use them.

All-Wheel-Drive Is Not Four-Wheel-Drive

Before we get started, it is important to point out that all-wheel-drive (AWD) and four-wheel-drive are not the same things. Four-wheel-drive is usually a selectable system designed to give better performance on broken terrain in low grip road conditions.

All-wheel-drive is a computer-controlled system that provides power to all four wheels at once and is always on. The computer, called an ‘automaker,’ decides how much power is delivered to which wheels. This system is designed to give optimal on-road performance in adverse weather conditions and is not well-suited for off-roading in the way that a traditional 4×4 system is.

The Different Types of 4×4 and When to Use Them

The 4×4 systems fitted to Jeep vehicles have a confusing range of names and different models have different systems. If you drive the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, you’ll be using the Quadra-Trac SRT, if you’ve got Jeep Wrangler Rubicon it’s the Rock-Trac, but if it’s just a Jeep Wrangler you’ll be using the Command Trac.

To make things simpler, we’ve done away with the brand names and split these 4×4 systems into three easy to understand headings: Automatic 4×4, 4×4 High, and 4×4 Low.

Automatic 4×4

The Quadra-Trac, and Quadra-Trac SRT, systems found on the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT are an excellent example of an automatic 4×4 system.

When set to ‘Auto,’ using the dial you’ll find below the gear shifter, the Jeep’s onboard computer monitors your vehicle’s ride and performance and automatically adapts to any road situation using the adaptive suspension tuning.

This system is designed to optimize on-road performance without the driver needing to make any manual adjustments. It delivers 40% of the engine torque to the front wheels and 60% to the rear wheels until it detects wheel slippage.

Once the wheels start to slip, the automaker redistributes the torque between the front and the back differentials to ensure optimum performance.

When to Use It

Essentially an AWD system, the Auto mode on the Quadra-Trac SRT system is best used to counter hazardous road conditions, such as rain, light snow, small patches of ice or anything that could cause you to lose grip. The system also comes with a Snow and Track option to improve performance in deep snow and when off-roading, although this last option is not as effective as a traditional 4×4 system.

4×4 High

More traditional 4×4 systems, such as the Rock-Trac and Command Trac, have four selectable modes that can be switched through using a small lever found below the gear shifter.

The first of these modes is 2H, or two-wheel-drive, is designed for everyday driving in optimal road conditions and provides the best fuel economy. Neutral is used when you want to tow your vehicle.

The first 4×4 mode is called 4H, or 4×4 High, and is designed to give you extra traction on slippery surfaces. In all modern Jeeps, you can switch into 4×4 High at speeds of up to 55mph. Some older systems will need you to come to a complete halt before switching in 4×4 mode.

When to Use It

4H transfers a 50/50 split of engine torque to the front and rear axles, giving you extra traction if you encounter slippery road conditions, like rain or snow-covered roads, or you move from a paved road onto loose or slippery surfaces.

Once you’ve moved back onto standard road conditions, it is important to switch back to 2H to avoid additional wear to the drive train or driveline binding, also known as tire scrub.

4×4 Low

When switching into 4L, or 4×4 Low, you’ll need to slow your Jeep to 2-3mph and put the transmission in Neutral. While the Jeep is still moving forward, shift into 4L on the 4×4 stick located below the gear shifter. If you hear some gear noise when doing this, don’t worry, it’s entirely normal.

When to Use It

4×4 Low is designed specifically for off-roading and towing situations where grip and power are extremely important. The front and rear driveshafts are locked and the engine power is sent through a lower set of gears to improve traction. In the case of the Command Trac, this multiple the available torque to 2:72:1 and in the case of the Rock-Trac it is an astounding 73:1:1.

Engage your 4×4 Low when you want to tow an extremely heavyweight or go for a cruise up a sheer rocky surface without worrying about slippage or wheel spin.

Get Your 4×4 Ready Jeep Today

Like a brand, Jeep is rightly famed for the quality and usefulness of their 4×4 systems. AWD systems like the Quadra-Trac SRT give you the best possible on-road traction, without you needing to make constant input, while the Rock-Trac and Command Trac systems give you the off-road power you need to overcome any climb.

If you want more information on the 4×4 systems installed on our Jeeps, or to discuss our range of available vehicles, call us today on 866 906 9303 or come and visit us at 8793 N County Road 25A, Piqua Ohio.


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