How To Get A Jeep Grand Cherokee Out Of 4 Wheel Drive

Does the four-wheel drive system of your Grand Cherokee have you perplexed? Here’s how you can beat that confusion and master the system.

Get A Jeep Grand Cherokee Out Of 4 Wheel Drive 1 How To Get A Jeep Grand Cherokee Out Of 4 Wheel Drive

How do you get out of 4WD in a Jeep Grand Cherokee?

To get a Jeep Grand Cherokee out of four-wheel drive low, bring it to a slow crawl (0-3 mph). The ignition should be on and the car running. Shift the transmission into neutral, then press the 4WD LOW button. The 4WD LOW light will turn off, and the Jeep will be in its default mode.

You may be wondering how to get it out of four-wheel drive altogether, but one of the great things about the Grand Cherokee’s system is that you don’t have to. Here’s why.

4WD Auto Vs 4WD Low

The Grand Cherokee has three modes for the four-wheel drive system: 4WD Auto, Neutral, and 4WD Low. These modes are separate from the transmission, dealing with torque distribution and resistance rather than the engine. Here’s a brief summary of each, and then we’ll look at why there isn’t a two-wheel drive option.


This mode is used at low speeds and on loose or slippery terrain such as sand, mud, gravel, and snow. It helps you get better traction in these conditions by giving the axles more gear reduction: slowing them down, and giving them more torque. This makes each wheel able to do more work than it otherwise could have done.

Speeds in this mode should not exceed 25 mph, and it shouldn’t be used on hard and dry roads.

This mode is available when you have the Quadra-Trac II equipped, but it’s not in Quadra-Trac I. So if you have Quadra-Trac I, avoid offroading in places where you might encounter sand, gravel, snow, or other loose or slippery surfaces.


This is different from the neutral in the transmission, but it’s similar. It separates the driveline from the powertrain, which means it disengages the engine and transmission from their connection to the wheels so that the engine can’t make the car move.

This neutral mode allows the four-wheel drive system to be disengaged, but it’s basically only used when another car is towing this one. This isn’t the mode you’re looking for to take it out of the four-wheel drive.

Get A Jeep Grand Cherokee Out Of 4 Wheel Drive 1 1 How To Get A Jeep Grand Cherokee Out Of 4 Wheel Drive


This is the default mode for newer Grand Cherokees, replacing 2WD, AWD, and 4WD High. This is the mode you’ll use daily, on or off the road. But it doesn’t mean your Jeep is in four-wheel drive all the time. Instead, this mode switches between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive automatically (hence “auto”).

If we compare it to transmissions, other SUVs where you need to make the switch between 2WD, 4WD Hi and 4WD Lo yourself are like stick shift or manual transmission cars, whereas the Grand Cherokee is an automatic, doing all the measuring and adjusting for you.

Why Isn’t 2WD Here?

As you might have gathered from how 4WD Auto works, the Grand Cherokee doesn’t have a two-wheel drive mode because it doesn’t need it. It’s incorporated into what the 4WD Auto mode, shifting automatically between 2WD and 4WD when the car senses it needs to.

Now, you might be thinking, “Why don’t I at least get a choice in the matter?” Maybe you want to be able to give the computer doing all the measuring a break while you know you’re not going to change modes for a while, or maybe you just want to be the one in control rather than the car.

To extend the metaphor, I enjoy driving a stick shift myself, but that doesn’t make it the best. Imagine you’re driving on the freeway and realize you left it in a four-wheel drive!

That would put some serious wear on the system, and it’s an easier mistake to make than neglecting to shift the manual transmission into a higher gear. At least in the stick shift, you can hear it when you need to shift, but the signs for shifting 4WD modes are more subtle and easy to miss if you’re not paying attention.

The 4WD Auto mode turns that possibility into a complete nonissue by letting the car decide what’s best for it. The only thing that the 4WD Auto mode can’t do is shift into 4WD Low: that’s why there’s a separate mode for that.

The 4WD Auto mode is the same whether you have Quadra-Trac I or Quadra-Trac II, the difference between the two being that Quadra-Trac II has the 4WD Low mode, meaning it can take loose and slippery terrain while Quadra-Trac I can’t.

Still, Stuck in 4WD Low?

With all that, you may still run into some problems with it getting stuck in 4WD Low. When you are having trouble getting out of 4WD Low, take a step back and consider whether you’re following the steps correctly. Many issues are the result of not following the directions precisely.

The instructions are found in the starting and operating section of your owner’s manual. Following them exactly will get it out of 4WD Low, but ignoring or forgetting some of the instructions could cause more problems and make it so that even repeating the process correctly may not work.

First, review what you’ve already tried. Was your vehicle on and moving at a speed below 3 mph? It’s possible to shift when stopped, but if the mating clutch teeth aren’t aligned, it will be difficult and might take several tries. The car will not allow the shift to happen if it’s going faster than 3 mph.

Did you shift the transmission (not the 4WD mode) into neutral before pushing the 4WD LOW button? If not, you may get a message in the instrument panel telling you to do so.

If you’ve made sure of all of these factors and you still can’t get it, you can try disconnecting the battery. This will help to fix anything that might have been out of whack. So disconnect the battery, wait half an hour, and connect it again. Then, make sure to go through the exact procedure to shift out of 4WD Low, and it should work.

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