Four-wheel drive is extremely popular with new car buyers today. In fact, 45 percent of new vehicles sold in the U.S. are 4WD or all-wheel drive. If you are a new owner of a 4WD/AWD vehicle, you may not be familiar with the recommended maintenance repair for 4-wheel drive.
It won’t come as a surprise that in Colorado, there are more Subarus than anywhere else in the United States. This is because they only come in AWD. If you don’t live here, you might be asking, “Why is 4WD/AWD so important in Colorado and other areas of the country?”
In Denver and across the state of Colorado, rain, ice, and snow can create hazardous situations where increased traction is needed. The mountain roads and hilly terrain can also be treacherous due to steep grades, which means the use of 4WD/AWD is a must for safety purposes.
What is the Difference Between 4WD and AWD?
While 4WD and AWD are often grouped together, you might not be aware that they work differently. Sure, they perform similar functions such as increasing traction and keeping you safe, but using them also lets you keep on with your regular routine and gives you confidence when road conditions become challenging.
The difference between them has to do with the frequency in which the power from the engine and transmission is transferred to either two or four wheels.
AWD: An AWD system sends power to all four wheels, all the time. While some part-time AWD systems are out there, they are not as popular. To keep it simple, let’s assume AWD drive vehicles operate with all four wheels continuously receiving power. One of the key features of AWD vehicles is the lack of input by the driver. Some models allow various modes of the system based on driving conditions, but most do not. Wheels in AWD vehicles get torque from the numerous components of the system, including multiple clutches, viscous couplings, and a series of clutches.
4WD: 4WD vehicles, also called 4×4, tend to have more robust handling capabilities for rugged terrain. A majority of 4WD vehicles are pick-up trucks and large SUVs. Driver input is often required on these vehicles to operate an electronic switch or mechanical lever. This switch or lever must be engaged to operate at “4-High,” “4-Low,” or more complex modes in recent models. The low setting tends to provide the most traction for off-road situations or exceptional circumstances. The high setting is designed for slippery conditions on roadways at more regular speeds. The transfer case and differentials are some of the key components of the 4WD system.
What 4WD Maintenance Should Be Performed?
The answer to that is as individual as the driver operating the vehicle, because it can vary widely from one vehicle to the next. There are two ways to figure out what the maintenance schedule should be.
You can consult your owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer recommends for maintenance. Following these recommendations will help ensure that your vehicle lasts a long time. This maintenance is just as important as changing your engine motor oil. In some cases, we have observed questionable maintenance intervals suggested by manufactures, so it’s best to consult with an independent transmission and drive-train specialist shop.
Also, consider how your vehicle is used. The levels of stress your vehicle is under will depend on where you drive, whether it’s mountainous or flat, and what you use it for. If you use the vehicle for snowplowing or hauling, the maintenance needs will be more frequent than a car that is used only for driving around town. All Denver drivers should realize driving conditions are more challenging here than most other parts of the country due to increasing traffic, varied weather conditions, and elevation/landscape.
Come in for a TrueTest Inspection
If you can’t find your owner’s manual, or if you would like extra assurance that your vehicle is operating correctly and is being serviced at proper intervals, come see us at Advanced Transmission for our free TrueTest Inspection.
This inspection uses computer scanning equipment and numerous hands-on tests to diagnose any issues within the drivetrain, including the transfer case and differentials. Our ASE Certified technicians regularly service and repair these components and would be happy to assist in determining the appropriate fluid and potential additives to extend the life of your 4WD/AWD system.